After Life

First class service in the removal and correct disposal of unwanted household, commercial and construction materials using Hino trucks is at the core of this Adelaide business.
Rob Curnow, Director Adelaide franchise, 1800-GOT-JUNK?

Human beings are naturally acquisitive, and some can even be reluctant to part with items which are in their possession despite having passed their useful life often because many people simply don’t have the time or resources to get rid of the unwanted items themselves.

For as long as he can remember Rob Curnow harboured a burning ambition to be some form of entrepreneur and to be the master of his own destiny.

After ten years working in sales for a major soft drink company, Rob and a mate purchased a second-hand soft serve ice cream van which was Rob’s first foray into business.

Instead of operating in the already competitive areas of suburban Adelaide, the duo would head a thousand kilometres to Ceduna to tap into the demand for their products where no others were available.

Rob learned some very valuable business lessons from that experience, one of which was to employ the best equipment, something he learned the hard way when the van’s refrigeration generator burned out and the attempt to tow the broken van home resulted in a blown engine in his own car.

After that wake-up call Rob spent a decade as the logistics co-ordinator for a major Barossa Valley winery where he utilised his natural affinity for logistics.

“I just like the numbers and the workflow and the processes,” Rob says. He credits his father for being his mentor and for providing valuable business advice as he again examined the best way to determine his own future.

Capitalising upon his abilities and experiences and the desire to be operating his own business, Rob looked at several opportunities and was impressed with the potential of taking on a franchise for 1800-GOT-JUNK? which is based in Vancouver, Canada. 1800-GOT-JUNK? is a full-service rubbish removal company for homes and businesses and provides an easy solution for the removal of unwanted items such as old furniture, appliances, electronics, tyres, construction debris, or green waste.

1800-GOT-JUNK? operators will remove rubbish from wherever it’s located and return it to their depot for sorting where recycling, donating and repurposing of items minimises the impact on landfill facilities.

Hino 300 Series trucks on show in Adelaide.
All seven Hino 300s in a motorcade.

“As a result of my background with multi-national organisations I looked for something clean and shiny such as 1800-GOT-JUNK? even though it operates in what may be regarded as a ‘dirty’ industry,” says Rob.

Through its franchisees 1800-GOT-JUNK? globally operates almost 3,000 trucks. Operating a legitimate business with appropriate permissions, insurances and processes in place is important to Rob who points out the industry has many unlicensed operators/illegal dumpers who turn up to people’s premises in old utes towing box trailers.

“There are four things we live by,” he says. “We offer clean shiny trucks, on-time service, upfront rates and uniformed friendly drivers.”

Two people are provided per vehicle in order to deliver a full service and to perform the complete job.

“Traditionally people would get a skip delivered and load the skip themselves, in a race to beat the neighbourhood to fill it, whereas we send two guys and a specialised truck and the customer simply points out what they want taken away,” adds Rob.

Customers call the toll free number and the jobs are allocated according to the client’s postcode.

The quoted rates are based on how much space in the truck the load requires with the truck body divided into eighths.

Like the vehicles, Rob’s premises are kept immaculate and there is an additional reason behind this.

“If it looks like a dump, people will treat it like a dump,” says Rob. When Rob started with the business a different truck brand was utilised but the dealer-owned body builder ignored plans from 1800-GOT-JUNK?’s head office and built the bodies he wanted to build which lead to multiple problems because the proven design wasn’t followed.

“The wrong colour, wrong branding, and the worst thing was a two piece ramp which had to be unfolded and was too heavy for one person and its design meant if the back doors of the body were closed the ramp couldn’t be removed,” recalls Rob.

1800-GOT-JUNK? Adelaide depot.
The 1800-GOT-JUNK? team assembles in Adelaide.

Four years later Rob walked into the local CMI Hino dealership on a Saturday morning.

“At that point I didn’t want to deal with a salesperson, I just wanted to see the trucks for myself,” recalls Rob.

“I got into one and CMI’s David Cushion knocked on the door and got into the passenger seat. We spent an hour and half just talking about trucks and what we did. Ever since David has been one of my best supporters in the business. We also like dealing with Hino’s service department. Nobody touches my trucks with a spanner except Hino.”

The resulting dedication to the Toyota/Hino brands is obvious with seven Hino 300 Series trucks in the Adelaide operation with number eight currently being fabricated as well as two Landcruisers and five HiLux utes, and not forgetting the Toyota Forklift.

“I’ve always been a Toyota guy and at age 17 my first good car was a Toyota Celica,” he says. “Today my wife drives a Kluger.”

Rob renews his trucks over every five years with some getting new bodies and others receiving a refurbished body from a retiring vehicle. Rob mostly sells his used trucks interstate to an operator in another similar business.

There can be two schools of thought in relation to maintaining trucks — either service them according to the manufacturer’s schedule or simply do the minimum to keep them on the road.

“I don’t think there is a right and wrong way with that at all,” says Rob, rationalising that the costs of properly servicing over five years are offset by a higher price when it comes time to pass them on.

“All my trucks are under warranty because I invest in the extended warranty available through Hino,” he says. “Every vehicle is 100 per cent road worthy and it’s the same with utes. It’s not just about my safety, it’s all of our safety.”

Rob’s attitude is rare in the industry with many others claiming to offer similar services but due to costs are prepared to run crucial items, such as tyres, all the way down to the wire.

“My operations manager is under strict instructions: if it’s not safe fix it and don’t let it go out the gate until it is,” says Rob.

As the business expands the requirement for more drivers is met via reaching out to the usual online platforms. Rob has also found that referrals from existing employees can be a source of new people.

“In a lot of cases it’s a mate of a mate,” he says.

“It’s a nicer environment for everybody if you work with people you like. People don’t leave good jobs — they leave bad places.”

Rob Curnow drives a Hino 300.
Rob Curnow behind the wheel of a Hino 300 series truck.

The requirement of a Light Rigid licence precludes many potential employees, but Rob offers practical support in obtaining those credentials for applicants with the right potential who are prepared to commit to the business.

The specification of automatic ‘two pedal’ Hino trucks helps broaden the employee net as well as making the trucks much easier to operate in traffic.

“We live by the clean shiny truck credo, and they are washed every week,” explains Rob.

“The team has a BBQ breakfast meeting every Friday morning when we wash the trucks, and ensure the toolboxes are stocked properly.”

An on-site modular fuelling facility adds to the efficiency of operating the fleet.

The business continues to grow as more customers realise the benefits of engaging with a professional organisation when it comes to disposing of unwanted items and the only effort the clients’ need to make is the initial contact, and then pointing to what they want removed.

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