THE WORKING LIFE ‌ Jim Bearden hauls your junk 

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"I am the franchise partner for 1-800-GOT-JUNK in Charleston. We are the world's largest junk removal service, with expansion into Australia this year as well as Europe. There are 227 franchise partners, with revenues around $124 million this year is what we are anticipating, and triple digit growth year after year for the past six years straight.

"The concept is fairly straightforward. Anything that two guys can lift that is not hazardous material is fair game. We'll do the lifting, loading, sorting, and dumping and the items we collect we will either recycle, donate, or give it away to women's shelters, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, and if it's trash we will just take it right to the dump. So we are environmentally friendly.

"The number one thing we pick up residentially is exercise equipment, and by the time we get there they have become laundry drying racks. We pick up Bowflexes and Stairmasters and stair steps, workout benches, weightlifting gear. The city charges by the pound to dump, and the way we bill is by the volume. All the prices are up front. The guys are going to be uniformed and come at a specified time. I have gotten brand new TVs that people are swapping out because they want a flat-screen plasma TV. We are strictly recycling.

"The box is the equivalent of 400 square feet or 15 cubic yards. My wife likes to say it is the equivalent of four full-size pickup trucks. The bed size is 8 x 10 x 5, and we can hold up to 5,000 pounds. If the objects are bigger than what two guys can lift then we have tools to make it smaller. We have online booking and call center staff 24 hours a day. The neat thing about us is that our name is our number, 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

"We do commercial and residential. I employ local college kids, College of Charleston guys. I've got to wait for the summer to get The Citadel guys. I was born here in Charleston in 1968, celebrating my 15-year reunion at The Citadel this year. I left after The Citadel and went into the Navy, became a pilot, and then worked for TWA and Delta. I traded big red planes for small blue and green trucks.

"I saw this as a unique opportunity. I was just looking into starting a business. I had never started a business. The more I looked into it the more attractive it became. The founders of this business are where Starbucks was 10, 15 years ago. That is how fast we are growing. Founder and CEO Brian Scudamore says that 'In this business I've learned one thing, you are what you cannot let go of.' I thought that was very appropriate. It has been great to get out and meet people and help people unclutter their lives." —as told to Elle Lien


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