Junk King: Eco-Friendly Junk Removal
Feb 26, 2014 12:36PM
By Megy Karydes
A large wax parrot presides over Armen Kholamian’s office. “It was one of our most unique finds,” he says. “It’s become our mascot.” Kholamian is president of Junk King. in Northbrook, a junk removal and hauling service that focuses on recycling. His office is one of approximately 50 franchises across the country, and they are able to recycle at least 60 percent of all the items they haul away, from unwanted clothing and furniture to computers and scrap metal. The company claims to have pioneered recycling-based junk removal in 2005 and led the industry in environmentally responsible hauling practices since then.
That’s what attracted Kholamian, a former pit trader who is still active at the Chicago Board of Trade. Looking for new opportunities and a business that he felt he could run well, Junk King was appealing because like him, its business model is committed to making a difference in the world.
Unlike traditional trash removal or hauling services, Junk King comes into the building or home to remove the items to be discarded. “One company needed 250 empty computer boxes with Styrofoam packing peanuts removed from their offices,” explains Kholamian. “We came in, took the boxes and peanuts and recycled 100 percent of the items.”
In some cases, a family needs an entire house or room cleared out, and Junk King can assist. “We often get calls from family members who have lost a loved one and need a home cleared out,” says Kholamian. “In addition to businesses and residences, we often work with real estate agents and people who run estate sales or senior assisted living centers. When an estate sale ends, there are always things that aren’t sold, so we’re asked to come in and remove the remaining items.”
Kholamian states. “With senior assisted living centers, many family members are happy to know they have someone who will come and take care of the items that meant so much to their family member and to do so in a responsible manner.” Real estate agents may ask Junk King to remove unwanted items to get a home ready to sell.
Kholamian shares the story of a woman that moved from Glencoe to another state to care for an ailing family member, so she arranged a company to clear out her home after the moving trucks left. She later learned that one dumpster wasn’t enough to handle all the items to be discarded, so the rest was left in her driveway on the day before her closing. “She was in a panic and called us to see if we could help,” he says. “I hired a bunch of men and we arrived at six in the morning and were done by nine in the morning.”
Kholamian is building his business through good old-fashioned customer service. “We’re upfront about price, our team arrives in uniform, we take care of our customers and we clean up after ourselves,” he says. He advises that his team will take just about anything, because much of it can be recycled. Among the items they accept are big furniture pieces, televisions, cubicles and computers. “We’ve taken riding lawn mowers and we can even accept cars,” he says.
There is a minimum charge of $65 and a full truckload is $548. Pricing estimates are based on how much space will be occupied in the truck. Once the truck is filled and returns to the warehouse, the team begins sifting through the items to see what can be recycled. Mid-century furniture is very popular, so it often goes to a consignment retailer. Metal is placed in a scrap pile and once enough is collected, it is taken to be recycled.
Items like computers are in high demand for their precious metal content, so they are sent to another facility to be stripped. If hard drives need to be wiped, Kholamian works with specific companies that are certified and can produce documents ensuring privacy compliance. “A physician had passed away and all of his patient documents needed to be shredded, so we worked with a company that would shred the documents in a secure and confidential manner,” he says.
More than 50 percent of what Junk King picks up can be recycled in some way. What can’t be recycled ends up in the landfill, so Kholamian’s goal is to recycle as much as possible.
“We work with various companies, based on whatever our customers need,” he adds. “I’m constantly networking and meeting with others to develop partnerships that are mutually beneficial.” In the meantime, the huge wax parrot in his office keeps him company.
Junk King is located at 1866 Techny Ct., in Northbrook. For more information, call 224-205-9288 or visit Junk-King.com.
Megy Karydes isn’t a hoarder, but she loves her magazines, and recently recycled two large garbage bags of them. When she’s not reading magazines, she’s writing for them. Find her at KarydesConsulting.com.