Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman co-founded College Hunks Moving in 2008 after they realized there was a market for moving students’ belongings to and from college dorms, off-campus apartments and storage facilities.
Today, College Hunks Moving has 55 franchises across the U.S. employing hundreds of young students and recent grads. They help lug around sofas, lamps, mattresses, boxes full of books and other items.
While expanding College Hunks Moving, the duo noticed another nationwide business opportunity: junk. That junk includes trash, beaten-up furniture and other remnants of students’ college lives that they don’t want to deal with and often abandon in unsightly heaps at dorms and private apartments or, too often, along city sidewalks and curbs.
“So we started College Hunks Hauling Junk,” Friedman said. “It’s going really well. We actually didn’t mind hauling away the junk. You might as well turn it into a business. We’re now a dual-branded company—moving and hauling.”
Piles of Trash
Late August and early September, when millions of college students are moving into dorms and apartments, is one of the two busiest times of the year for College Hunks and others moving companies catering to college students and their parents. The other time is May, when students are moving out at the end of the school year.
Both periods involve a lot of junk, although the move-out period may generate a bit more. But move-in time also has its share of trash, as recent grads who stuck around for the summer must move out of apartments to make way for incoming students, and newly arriving students pitch stuff that they really don’t want.
It can get ugly.
“We used to be inundated with numerous complaints about trash piled up a mile high outside,” said Lisa Timberlake, a spokeswoman for the City of Boston, home to more than a dozen large and small colleges. “Furniture would be on curbs. Trash would be spilled all over the place. Parents who pulled up in cars with their kids were horrified at the conditions.”
Trash piles up outside a dorm at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL.
In Boston and Beyond
So more than a decade ago, the City of Boston formed “inspectional service” squads of city workers who fan out each September and May across city neighborhoods near college campuses, talking to students and handing out brochures about traffic and parking restrictions, city trash policies, noise limits in dorms and apartments, and other information about “how we expect them to behave,” Timberlake said.
Members of the special squads, who wear jerseys clearly identifying them as city workers, are drawn from the city’s sanitation, public health, transportation and building-inspection departments. Similar initiatives occur in college towns across the country.
College Hunks’ Friedman said other “classic” college towns include Austin, TX (University of Texas), Columbus, OH (Ohio State University), Raleigh-Durham, NC (Duke University and University of North Carolina) and dozens of other places where major colleges are located.
At Texas State University in San Marcos, a college town near Austin, the city earmarks $25,000 a year for the cleanup of improperly discarded trash, such as couches, mattresses and appliances, according to Austin TV station KXAN. Of that amount, $7,000 to $10,000 is spent during the summer months as Texas State students move out of their apartments.
Chaos and Clutter
Move-in and move-out seasons are “a little bit of a frenzy,” Friedman said. “It’s chaotic. Your typical college student is not accustomed to moving or hiring a service. It can get messy.” Messy, as in sticky apartment floors, and soiled mattresses and sofas heaved out of dorm, apartment and frat-house windows, Friedman said.
Another company that caters to the college crowd is 1-800-GOT-JUNK, a British Columbia-based hauler with hundreds of franchisees across North America. Judith Briggs, one of six 1-800-GOT-JUNK franchisees in the Boston area, said move-in and move-out seasons are “pandemonium.”
“When the kids are moving in or out, there’s a lot of trash. Sometimes kids have going-away parties, so there’s also broken toilets, freezers and other damaged things that have to be hauled away,” Briggs said.