Q&A with new College Hunks owner Jim Wright on his junk hauling and moving franchise in Houston
One of the unique aspects of the typical College Hunks franchisee is that there is no typical College Hunks franchisee. They come from all walks of life and occupational backgrounds. Jim Wright, who opened his College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving franchise in Northeast Houston, is a prime example.
His background in mechanical engineering and design for major oil and gas companies is certainly a far cry from his new occupation, but what College Hunks has to offer encouraged him to make the transition. Corporate life had left him feeling unfulfilled and searching for a better way to plan for his family’s future. He was also looking for a way to direct his own career and be his own boss. That search ultimately led him to his own junk hauling franchise in Houston. This is his story.
What were you doing before you joined College Hunks?
I am still doing the same thing. I am a mechanical engineer and I work in the oil and gas industry. I work in measurements, so I basically design facilities that measure gas, oil and water. I am still keeping that same job and going to be somewhat of an absentee owner for this franchise. I have already hired an operations manager named David Oakley. I go there every day after work and I spend all of my weekends there. I am still playing a big role in the business; I am just not there during business hours Monday through Friday.
What made you decide that you wanted to try something new and add this to your day?
Really, my initial thought was I wanted to get out of corporate America. A lot of people in my same position have had this same story through College Hunks. They want to get away from corporate America, and that is what Nick and Omar, the founders of College Hunks, did. They went and worked for a little while in corporate America and figured out it really wasn’t something that they enjoyed. It really didn’t fulfill them. Same with me. It doesn’t fulfill me and is not very challenging. So, that is what I was really looking for, something where I can have a challenge and something that would be fulfilling, and something I could give to my kids when I move on.
So what made you decide on College Hunks?
I searched for probably over a year for all different types of franchises, everything from oil change places, ATMs, bar and grills and shops like Subway. My franchise consultant found this opportunity, and it just sounded great. I was looking for a very simple business model. It seemed like the return was pretty good on the investment, so I went to Discovery Day a couple of months before opening and the guys sold me on it. It was really exciting and something that made me feel good, and basically I moved forward with the franchise deal.
Since you knew you were going to be keeping your day job, did College Hunks lend itself to that more than some of the other franchise opportunities?
Like I said, the business model with College Hunks is a very simple one: You are hauling junk and you are moving. It has two sources of revenue, which is really good. There was already brand recognition here in Houston, because now there are five franchisees here. I think that helped make my decision, too. It seemed like a no brainer to move forward.
So all of the other College Hunks trucks driving around helps to market you as well?
Yes, exactly. We all feed off of each other here in the Houston area, which is a good thing. My truck could be driving near Jeff Woods’ area and they could see it. So, I am helping him market and he is helping me market.
But when the calls come in they are divvied up appropriately based on your territory?
Everything is based on ZIP codes.
So what are your long-term goals for the business?
I plan on opening another franchise. I am going to have to give it a little time and let it get established and then make a decision from there.
Was your desire to leave something for your kids or your family later on in life major part of your decision to join College Hunks?
Yes, it was. My kids and my family are No. 1. Family is more important than anything to me, so I would like to leave them something when I move on. That is one of my goals in life, to provide for my children and to provide for my family.
Are our children able to work in the business right now?
Well, my daughter is 11 and my son’s 16. My hope is my son will end up taking it over eventually, when he gets a little older. That’s my goal. My daughter is really not interested in moving and hauling junk and stuff like that at this point.
How does the business fill a need in the community that you are in ?
It fills a pretty big need. Goodwill is a major part of the business here, especially in Houston. Nick and Omar have negotiated an alliance with Goodwill, so anywhere from 40% to 60% of our junk business is through them. Basically we are giving back to the community. I am also in the process of going to communities within my ZIP codes offering free labor for certain events. We are going to do one event each month for the community. We are going to contribute free labor, free hauls or anything that can help our community events.
How have you been marketing your new business?
I wear one of my College Hunks shirts every day. My girlfriend wears one every day, and my kids wear their shirts every day, so we are all about the business for sure. When I go to Home Depot or Lowe’s, I talk to people and I hand my business card out. It’s kind of funny — wherever I go, people see my shirt and the logo and they ask, “What do you guys do?”
Probably because of the orange?
The brand is bright orange and green, and I guess people identify with it. It is really good branding! I really like it.