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College Hunks opens headquarters in Ybor City

By: Anjuli Lohn, FOX 13 News

(FOX 13) - It's a small business success story, with roots right here in the Tampa Bay area. College Hunks Hauling Junk's simple concept is now taking flight with franchises across the country.

They're hunks from humble beginnings.

"We started out with a beat-up cargo van. A couple of guys. Really, it was back when we were in college. It was just a way to earn some extra beer money," said College Hunks Hauling Junk Co-Founder Omar Soliman.

A means for beer money turned out to be a booming business model, with nearly 50 CHHJ locations in 28 states.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we think it would get to this point," Soliman said Thursday.

Now, the hunks are hauling their own junk to a new world headquarters, based in an old warehouse in Ybor City. Over a six-month period, the company's transformed the space from vacant to vibrant.

"We want to make it a place where people want to be, not where they have to be," CHHJ Co-Founder Nick Friedman said.

The 10,000 square foot building has numerous additions to enhance employee's workplace experience, including a dream room for meditation.

"We've gotten our inspiration from some of the bigger, web 2.0 companies. We're in a traditional industry, but we're trying to be revolutionizing of that industry and be more of a progressive company," Friedman said Thursday.

A putt-putt green and plans for a zip-line are also on the blueprint for the new building.

But what does it take to work for College Hunks?

"If you're a friendly person who likes to deliver customer service with a smile and you can lift things, you could probably get a job here," Soliman said.

College Hunks now has the muscle of 500 employees backing their brand, but they say the company is only bulking up.

"We certainly aren't satisfied. We haven't reached that vision that we have in our minds yet. So we still have a lot of work to do," Soliman said.

The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce is welcoming the new College Hunks headquarters as another example of the rebirth of the area's business district. Over the past seven years, three-quarters of one-million square feet of vacant Ybor City storefront space has been occupied by new commercial and retail businesses.

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