The idea for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, the world’s largest junk-removal service, was born as a way to help Brian Scudamore pay for university. At age 19, with $700 in hand, he bought a beat-up pick-up truck and started hauling away other people’s unwanted goods.
Today, the Vancouver-based company includes three additional brands and more than 250 franchisees throughout North America and Australia and Scudamore is the founder and CEO of the home-services firm O2E Brands.
“From appearing on Oprah to seeing my book on the NASDAQ billboard in Times Square, there have been incredible moments in this 30-year journey that I never thought possible,” he says.
An ‘aha’ moment while pursuing degree at Concordia
“A professor who had found out about my side business asked me to teach a class. I seized the opportunity to talk about my start-up and realized I was learning more about business by actually running one. I ended up dropping out to focus on my company. I’m not saying everyone should drop out, but it was the right path for me.”
Biggest career challenge
“In 1997, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? was making $1 million a year. I had 11 staff members, but had stopped coming into work because the environment was really toxic. I made the bold decision to fire everyone. It was scary and terrible, and really made me reflect on my own leadership skills. I had not set expectations for my staff, nor did I have a clear vision for the future. I ran the business alone for a few months and, as I rebuilt the team, I vowed never to compromise on culture fit ever again.”
Words of wisdom
“People don’t fail, systems do. With the right systems and processes in place, you can make anyone successful.”
Social causes close to the heart
“In 2013, I went to Kenya with WE Charity, which runs development programs in nine countries that focus on education, water, health, food and economic opportunity. We’ve extended the program to our employees so they can see the impact of giving back.”