We'll Drink to That!

On a Shoestring

What: Environmental contracting and waste management
Who: Bob Delhome of Charter Environmental
Where: Chelsea, Massachusetts
When: Started in 1997
Start-up cost: $300

After establishing strong contacts during his six years in the waste-management field, sales representative Bob Delhome was ready to climb to the top of the trash heap with his own venture.

With $300, he bought a computer and set up shop at home. Using his contacts, Delhome subcontracted the work for the waste-brokering services he provided. To curb overhead costs, Delhome went to job sites during the day and copied his work documents at Kinko's in the evening for the next day's job. He also learned to do his own bookkeeping.

In six months, Delhome, 34, had two full-time employees and moved his company to the loading dock of an old industrial building. A local lumber retailer was going out of business, so Delhome bought their office furniture.

Waste brokering was a starting point for Delhome. "It was the most low-cost way to build sales and use profits to build an asset base," he says. Delhome then reinvested his money and bought equipment and disposal sites. The company now provides environmental contracting and waste management to contractors, consultants and government agencies. Charter made $1.5 million its first year, with projected sales for 2003 between $35 million and $40 million. Despite his success, Delhome remains pragmatic to avoid the pitfalls that failed competitors have encountered: "There has been nothing in excess."

--April Y. Pennington
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This article was originally published in the April 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: We'll Drink to That!.

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