Business

The Ground Floor: Junk King specializes in repurposing, reusing

Cedar Rapids franchise's business model is good for the environment

Earl Olney, employee of Junk King Eastern Iowa, loads an old pet cage into their truck at a house in Iowa City. (Stephen
Earl Olney, employee of Junk King Eastern Iowa, loads an old pet cage into their truck at a house in Iowa City. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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A new Eastern Iowa business helps people get rid of their junk — while keeping it out of the landfill.

“We’ve all had family and friends who’ve had to downsize,” Jim Marlin said. “The big question is what to do with all of this stuff. We make the transition easy.”

Marlin and his wife, Jennifer, opened Iowa’s first Junk King franchise in January, a trash removal service that covers Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, Cedar Falls and surrounding communities. The business loads and hauls away furniture, appliances, construction waste and other items from residences and businesses. Pricing is based on volume.

“We’ll come out take a look and provide an estimate on site,” Marlin said. “If the customer likes the price, we can take the stuff on the spot.”

Junk King was founded by two friends out of a California garage in 2005. The company began franchising five years later and is now one of the largest junk removal companies in North America.

“We always wanted to own something and were confident that we wanted a franchise,” Jim said. “We had inquired about a few different opportunities but never got very far before this.”

Marlin has a background in media sales and nonprofit management, while Jennifer works in finance as a retirement specialist. He said one thing that attracted them to Junk King was the company’s technology-driven management model.

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“The company takes a white-collar approach to a traditional blue-collar industry,” he said.

That model includes a web-based scheduling system, proprietary NetWare for accounting and other back-office functions, and mobile invoicing.

“The company built in a lot of efficiencies to the process,” Jim said. “It’s pushing the envelope on how to use technology to make the business as efficient as possible.”

Junk King’s eco-friendly approach also appealed to the couple.

“The company places a high value on the environment,” he said. “On average, about 60 percent of what we haul away is recycled.”

Junk King’s operations are based around a recycling hub. Materials collected on jobs are taken to Junk King’s Eastern Iowa warehouse where they are sorted and then donated, recycled or repurposed.

“We’ve developed local and national relationships with metal recyclers and charities like women’s shelters and Habitat for Humanity Restore,” Jim said. “People can feel good about where their stuff is going because we’re keeping it out of the landfill.”

In addition to the Eastern Iowa franchise, the Marlins also obtained the rights to Junk King’s Central Iowa franchise territory. Within the year, they hope to open a second recycling hub in the Des Moines metro area.

AT A GLANCE

Owners: Jim and Jennifer Marlin

Business: Junk King of Eastern Iowa

Address: 312 W, Fourth St., Suite 1, Waterloo

Telephone: (319) 250-2225

Website: www.junk-king.com/eastern-iowa

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