Globe-Trotting Family Plants Roots In Atlanta, Opens College Hunks Franchise
Q&A with Norbert and Jennifer Schmeidler, who are building a family business and taking control of their lives with a College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving franchise
One of the reasons customers love to hire College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving is because of the quality of the people running the business. Few customers, for instance, would expect the owner of a junk removal and moving franchise to also have a background as a marine biologist and university lecturer.
But those customers have not yet met Norbert and Jennifer Schmeidler, who recently opened a College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving franchise north of Atlanta.
Norbert, an Ichthyologist by training (the branch of biology devoted to the study of fish) had a job working at a university in Cape Town, South Africa, when he met his future wife, Jennifer. After starting a family and following several job promotions to Denmark, Switzerland, and other parts of the world, they finally settled in Atlanta.
Now they are planting firm roots by building a business with the help of their four children and a growing staff.
This is their story.
What were you doing before you started your business?
Norbert: After we married, I became a medical rep for Novo Nordisk. They sent us to Copenhagen. Then we moved to Switzerland for a job with Novartis, then to the U.S. for Novartis, then back to Switzerland for Roche. Jennifer was a travel agent and then did the real work of raising our family. She’s now the CEO of our business.
How did you find out about College Hunks?
Norbert: I was leaving my last job and I started a job search, but as part of that we had a discussion that this might be an opportunity to do something different on our journey and adventure. We talked about franchises. I have worked in logistics, supply chain companies and other types of companies, so I know corporate life. I was getting “structured out” of corporate life. So, part of it was to control our destiny and not let that happen to us again without a plan. I didn’t want to be beholden to a company where I could do everything right and still be told that, due to restructuring, “see you later!”
Then I met a guy who asked if I had thought about going into business for myself. We met with him, and he matched us up with about two dozen possible franchise opportunities. We narrowed it down, did our due diligence and realized College Hunks was exceptional in everything they do to support their franchisees.
What attracted you to College Hunks?
Norbert: I really love HR, and I have an understanding of what it takes to build leaders. I know that whether people make it or not depends on whether they find great mentors and coaches. So, we take an interest in the guys that we hire. We see the value of trying to work with these college guys, because we help them see what success looks like. My hope is that eventually one or two of them will get a franchise of their own.
Jennifer: There was so much that attracted me to College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving. Initially, I loved that they are a green company. I have a great passion for recycling, plus I was attracted by the operational side. There are so many opportunities for creativity. I am particularly enjoying dealing with the older demographic. My mom recently finished a long struggle with dementia, and I have worked with the aging population, and I realize how vulnerable they are when they need to move homes or clear things out from their homes. I feel great about making a difference for these people.
What were your first jobs like?
Jennifer: There was an elderly woman who had an apartment in the area and she was basically alone. She asked us to get rid of some of her stuff because she was moving to a place where she would only have a small room and no space for most of her things. She didn’t have much money and I refused to take any from her. We wanted to help her and make a small difference in her life.
What do you like about owning a College Hunks business?
Norbert: We love running the business together.
Jennifer: Norbert concentrates on the HR side and working to market and grow the business, whereas I am more of an Operational Manager. I am calling on Goodwill and trying to market on that level. Norbert is doing the finances, the HR, payroll, and the background checks.
Norbert: But today, for example, I am going to be doing Operations so Jen can have a day off. And it’s cool that we can do that.
How is your family involved in your College Hunks franchise?
Jennifer: Our oldest son, Norbert IV, is very interested in business. He went to Oxford of Emory and earned his Associates in 18 months, then did an internship. He wants to be in management consulting and even got us our SBA loan to get us started. Our daughter, Emma, handles our social media marketing, and provides HR support, and has shown a lot of initiative to learn the business while she studies Communications at Penn State. Our 18-year-old sons, Martin and Joshua, are HUNKS in the truck. (HUNKS stands for Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable Service.) It’s funny: when we bought the business, Martin’s first words were, “I will never work on the truck.” Well, they just had a great day in which they executed a guerilla marketing plan and came back with a job booked, and he was very excited.
What are your goals?
Norbert: Make money, of course, but also to be able to spend time together building something that we can look back on and say that we are proud we created a functioning, ongoing enterprise that helps people.
What makes it fun?
Norbert: It’s kind of a thrill when the truck comes and you open up the back and there are all kinds of cool stuff to go through. It is a palpable excitement. This last week we also really enjoyed the satisfaction of being able to donate and recycle, too.
How has College Hunks supported you so far?
Norbert: I can’t say enough how great the office in Tampa is. I don’t believe we could have done this without their support. I was a little wary at first because when they welcome you, they do such an amazing job. I really hoped that it would continue and it absolutely does continue — the training, the caring environment, and the energy. Those first few weeks there was a ton of support. I had our ramp-up coach here and she is superb, not only helping with operations but on a personal level, she gave me a lot of encouragement. She told us that we should stop being so hard on ourselves when everything isn’t perfect yet. I think our original decision to go with College Hunks, one of the determining factors was their support structure. (President and co-founder) Nick (Friedman) is constantly guiding us. He helps with communications on a day-to-day basis. He sends out the President’s Bulletin and we have a monthly call to discuss the results of the previous month. Also, with Nick, you get the sense that he hasn’t lost sight of what it’s like to be on the truck. He is empathetic and has not lost the touch. He is not in an ivory tower.
Learn more about College Hunks Hauling Junk
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