College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk and Moving expands into Tucson

Growing metro area will provide opportunities for both moving and junk removal operations to build a solid customer base quickly

As a former sales executive, Chris Gembis knows the value of a good pitch. That’s why, when he began looking at opportunities to operate his own business, College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk and Moving stood out. The business had a clever, catchy name that caused people to stop and ask, “What does H.U.N.K.S. stand for?” The answer: Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable Service immediately made the company stand out from its competition in the moving and junk removal industries.

“The standard of service we provide is very high, and completely unlike what most people expect when they think of movers and junk hauling,” Chris says. “We show up in khakis and polos, with friendly attitudes and smiles, and we treat customers and their belongings like they are our own.”

What were you doing before College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk and Moving?

I was a sales executive in the automotive industry for about 17 years, living in Detroit, and I did a lot of traveling to automotive factories all over the world. I often went to Mexico, and so I was in and out of Tucson, which I enjoyed. I met my future wife, Sandra, while in Mexico in 2008, and the short story is that we decided to get married, and we started a cleaning business called Cactus Cleaning Crew that provides full-service residential and commercial cleaning in Tucson. It’s a good business, and being a business owner also helped my wife secure her green card.

How did you decide to explore franchising?

Whenever I would come back from Mexico, I would come across the border and go to Carl’s Jr. for a big, American hamburger. I am not a fast-food fan, but I really liked theirs, so I began looking at what it would take to bring that franchise to Michigan. That led to looking at lots of other franchises. A franchise consultant introduced me to College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk, and I initially dismissed the idea of the owning a junk hauling company, but once I really looked into it, I saw impressive financials and realized that it also had great synergy with my other company.

What made College H.U.N.K.S. a great fit?

The cleaning company was doing well because we have a really solid work ethic and that led to a lot of referrals. Sandra is the general manager and oversees its daily operations. We’re very well networked in the real estate community, and often when people want their house thoroughly cleaned, it’s because they are getting ready to sell their home or they are getting ready to move into a house they just purchased. So these are people who likely need a mover or a junk removal company.

What got me over the line to become a franchisee was the culture and energy of College Hunks. (Co-founders) Omar (Soliman) and Nick (Friedman) are very clever, savvy, young, forward-thinking business people whose whole organization embraces those characteristics. I like the idea that if you go to work, and work hard, you’re rewarded. I knew these guys would always support me, and never tell me to slow down.

What sets College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk and Moving franchise apart from other independent moving and removal companies?

The differentiator is the premise itself, that of clean, dependent movers. I’ve got nothing against tattoos, but if you’re knocking on a door and you have a spider web tattoo on your neck and a cigarette dangling from your mouth, that client is not going to be too happy when you say, “Ma’am I’m here to move your antiques.” But the difference is about a lot more than just appearance. We don’t have a 9-to-5 mentality — we’re working until the job is done. It’s all about providing great service. It’s also about treating customers as human beings, and being friendly and respectful. Moving is hard for people, and it’s not always happening for a happy reason. Sometimes it’s death, divorce, or downsizing, and being able to walk into that emotional landscape with a smile on your face, with a professional attitude, and with care, can alleviate a lot of stress for customers.

What do you need to do to be successful in this franchise?

My success has always stemmed from planning the work and working the plan. The majority of people in Tucson are good people, and the ones who are coming to work for us are ready to learn about how to run a solid business, and to be mentored. I think we can be successful in serving the Latino community, which is very large here, as well as all the other demographics.

I’m excited to help my team grow into strong business people. I know that when I was the age of most of my employees, if I hadn’t run into a mentor of my own, I could have taken some wrong turns and not developed the professionalism that has helped me be successful. For employees, this is an opportunity to grow and to learn the top-to-bottom aspects of entrepreneurialism.

Who are your main customers?

We are marketing out to the mid- and upper-income areas in the north and northwest parts of Tucson. There are a lot of well-established brands in the Latino community on the city’s south side, but they are small and we’re going to jump in there as well.

Once we have a solid presence in one part of the city, we’re going to move into different areas and get creative with our marketing. We know we need to localize the College H.U.N.K.S. message, and so we’re going to do that by creating new plans for the senior citizen community, the Latino community and everyone else who lives here. I’m learning a lot from the team at corporate, as well as my fellow franchise owners, on how best to build those plans, and so we’re eager to see success.

What does a typical day look like?

We found a space that has great exposure to a major thoroughfare, so our operations center will be very visible. That helped us get ahead of the curve before we opened, and so we were able to focus on hiring and getting up and running. Now it’s a mix of taking care of the administrative side of things while also working with the teams throughout the day to make sure there are no problems, and then working on our marketing and outreach plans so we can continue to grow.

What do you like about the business?

I’m competitive. I played college soccer, and even though I’m not playing anymore I still have those competitive juices flowing. When I go into the sales arena, it’s like jumping out of a plane. Closing a deal is a huge adrenaline rush for me. I’m confident in my abilities to create and grow this business in Tucson, and I really like what I’ve heard so far, which is that we’re doing a great job and people here really need our services.

Would you recommend this franchise? Why?

I definitely would. It’s been a great experience up to this point. I’m an honest, Midwest guy, I’m not going to tell someone to go for it without doing all the research. That said, it’s gratifying and rewarding to work with sharp, clever people who have a real strong approach to leveraging everything they can to make this business work very well.

Learn more about College Hunks Hauling Junk

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