The would-be 'WestJet of waste'

The basic franchise fee is$15,000 for a territory defined as having a 50,000 population, and $7,500 for every additional territory. Four territories are in the process of being franchised and there are expressions of interest for six more. Kirkwood won't reveal the privately held company's sales or profit, but he says each location is a multimillion-dollar outlet.

Edmonton Journal
November 11, 2009

The would-be 'WestJet of waste'
Edmonton-based company hits the 'motherload' as demand for hauling junk soars
Bill Mah

310DumpGregKirkwood.jpg

Greg Kirkwood started the business 310-dump 15 years ago when he was a university of alberta student, removing people's junk with a single truck. now, the company hopes franchises will carry its brand even further. Photograph by: Candace Elliott, The Journal, Edmonton Journal

310-DUMP, which started as a summer moonlighting job for a university student, has joined the big league of national franchisors.

The Edmonton-based junk removal business launched its franchising campaign two weeks ago and plans on growing by 300 outlets in the next three years.

It was 15 years ago that Greg Kirkwood, a University of Alberta economics major, started the company to earn money to pay for his studies.

"I had no intentions of getting into the waste industry," Kirkwood, 36, says.

His usual summer job working in the oilfield turned into an corporate office position for the same company when he was promoted because of his education, but Kirkwood found that the white-collar transfer paid considerably less than the outdoors job.

"I needed extra money to pay for school, so I ended up applying for a $3,000 loan from the Federal Business Development Bank. I ended up buying a $1,200 1976 one-ton truck because I had heard from some friends and construction people who were having problems getting rid of stuff and it was hard to find reliable people to do it."

For months, he worked both jobs —heading into the office at 5 a.m., then changing out of his suit at 1 p.m., before business grew so much he quit his office job and left university a few courses short of his degree to pursue 310-DUMP full-time.

"Initially, I wanted to be a stockbroker and I decided here's an opportunity I had to run with."

The company now has three corporate locations — in Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto—and about 12 years ago expanded into Dumpster rentals.

Two weeks ago 310-DUMP began offering franchises at the Canadian Franchise Association show in Toronto.

"I tried to do the corporate side of the business and trying to be in all those locations at once is very difficult. I found that by having people with a vested interest in the business, they can give the same level of customer service and keep the integrity of the brand."

The basic franchise fee is$15,000 for a territory defined as having a 50,000 population, and $7,500 for every additional territory. Four territories are in the process of being franchised and there are expressions of interest for six more.

Kirkwood won't reveal the privately held company's sales or profit, but he says each location is a multimillion-dollar outlet.

Demand for junk-hauling comes largely from baby boomers downsizing out of large homes or from homeowners renovating kitchens or bathrooms instead of moving, Kirkwood says.

He credits the company's rapid growth to its high standards, clean-cut, uniformed workers and clean, reliable equipment in an industry once dominated by what Kirkwood calls fly-by-nighters.

"There was a real lack of professionalism in the industry at the time, and when I said I'd show up, I'd show up.

"Our goal is to be like the WestJet of the waste industry."

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