Any Junk? founder Jason Mohr
Why rubbish is proving to be a goldmine for Jason Mohr
Rubbish may not be sexy, but with the help of a strong brand and a national infrastructure, it's proving to be a goldmine for Jason Mohr, the founder of Any Junk?
A year after starting up his rubbish clearance business Any Junk?, Jason Mohr considered putting it up on eBay for £1m, just to see if it sold. But over the past few years he's become increasingly disinclined to sell. “I never thought I'd want to touch a business with a lot of consumer interaction, but that's exactly what I have now. And it's a good space to be in,” he says.
The Any Junk? service consists of a vehicle and two-man team that takes away rubbish or unwanted junk. Customers pay according to how much of the vehicle they fill and, at present, the company diverts more than 70% of the waste away from landfill, either through recycling or resale.
Since launching in South West London in 2004 with one vehicle, the business has grown steadily. The fleet is now approaching 30 and the past year has seen seven new national depots open, increasing revenues to just under £4m. That growth has been fuelled by commercial clients, including B&Q and Magnet, as well as work with local authorities.
“Right now, around 95% of the work is commercial and we're nowhere in the consumer market, so there's still a lot of growth to be done there,” says Mohr. “I have friends who say to me: ‘Jason, you're in the rubbish business. How can I hire a skip?'”
Evidently, there's much consumer education needed; according to Mohr, skips are not long for this world and the industry has taken a blow recently. “Most skip companies are lowering their prices while disposal costs are rising as a result of landfill tax – it's not a great market to be in, but recycling services can only grow.”
Despite Mohr's frustration at the lack of recognition in the consumer market, it's Any Junk?'s commercial stronghold that is seeing it through the housing slump. “It has been tough in the domestic market, because no houses are being cleared and a couple of smaller copycats have gone bust,” he says. “We could have gone round chasing others on price or spending a lot on marketing, but it made more sense to open up depots and grow nationally with our existing commercial clients.”
Mohr says the firm is “unique by a country mile in the B2B sector, as similar offerings with a national presence simply don't exist”. While the local competition does “nibble”, he has a lot of confidence in the company's scale.
“This is a replicable model for two to three trucks, but it gets too hard after that,” he says. “We have an awful lot of IT and exterior credentials at work. In our industry, you need various ticks next to your name. Local authorities are bloody hard work, and they won't even speak to a two-truck business.”
Then, of course, there's the strong brand Mohr has cultivated over the company's five-year lifespan. No matter what angle you take, rubbish isn't sexy. Trying to build a memorable and appealing brand in waste disposal has obvious challenges. Mohr has overcome some of these issues by putting fun at the heart of it all. The bright red vehicles sporting funky elephant logos are working hard to gain recognition, while a viral campaign featuring an Any Junk? team disposing of X Factor duo John and Edward proved popular on YouTube. With the motto: ‘If it's rubbish, we'll clear it', the plan is to make the company synonymous with rubbish clearance of any kind. In fact, to ‘Any Junk?' something will become a popular verb, if Mohr gets his way.