Other People's Trash Is How This Franchisee Makes His Treasure Ed Stripay is going green -- and seeing green -- with his Junk King franchise.

By Carly Okyle

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Ed Stripay

Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email franchiseplayers@entrepreneur.com.

Ed Stripay's career is a varied one. He's been a restaurant manager, a technical writer, a farmer and now a franchisee. One thing that has remained constant, however, is his passion for the environment. Through a franchise broker, he found a company that is equally invested in the Earth. Now the owner of Junk King Pittsburgh, Stripay is reaping the rewards of his hard work.

Name: Ed Stripay

Franchise owned: Junk King Pittsburgh

Q: How long have you owned a franchise? I launched my franchise location in November of 2012.

Q: Why franchising?
Prior to joining the Junk King franchise system, I was exploring opportunities to own and operate my own business. Soon after, I made an appointment to meet with a franchise broker. Based on my background, interests and skill set, he recommended that I consider Junk King. I was immediately attracted to the business model.

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Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Previously, I owned a 300-acre horse-boarding farm, which housed 42 horses. I farmed and baled 12,000 bales of hay each year that were used to feed the horses.

Before I became a farmer, I was a technical writer and trainer for Kodak, a major technology company based in Rochester. Early on, I also served as a restaurant manager for an operating group based in the Pittsburgh area.

Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Being a farmer and an avid outdoorsman that enjoys fishing, camping and hunting, I am a true steward of the land. Conservation has always been important to me, which is why I wanted to find a business that would allow me to further my commitment to serving and protecting the ecosystem. Junk King is the first in its category to provide "green" junk removal services. Through recycling partnerships, the brand recycles, reuses and repurposes the materials it picks-up. In new franchisee training, we learn to pack the truck so items can be safely unpacked and reused. Moreover, we lease a large warehouse facility that can be used to manage the sorting of materials. In total, we are able to reuse more than 60 percent of the items we remove from a property.

I also chose Junk King is because each day on the job is different. One day we will be picking-up a piano and the next day we will be removing 500 office chairs and 120 desks from the federal building. We have done everything from an estate cleanup to a foreclosure cleanup. Everyday is new and exciting.

Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The initial investment for a Junk King franchise ranges from approximately $87,000 to $150,000 depending on the size of the market. For a market of 500,000, the approximate start-up expenses are as follows:

$40,000.00 franchise fee

$5,000.00 initial marketing

$2,500.00 warehouse deposit

$500.00 utilities deposit

$1,500.00 organizational cost

$12,500.00 truck deposit

$3,000.00 insurance

$1,000.00 computers

$300.00 furniture

$150.00 uniforms

$300.00 phones

$200.00 supplies

$20,000.00 working capital

TOTAL: $86,950.00

Q: Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
In addition to connecting with the leadership team, I reached out to new and existing franchisees in the system to learn more about their journey to entrepreneurship including the rewards and challenges of owning a Junk King franchise.

I also did a thorough market analysis. Based on my research, there was a growing demand for junk removal services in the Pittsburgh area. Similar concepts in the market were adding new trucks and expanding their footprint, which made me believe that I could do the same.

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Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
In the early stages of launching Junk King Pittsburgh, people would ask me why I didn't open my own independent junk removal business. Many of my friends suggested that I buy a dump truck and call it "Ed's Junk Removal."

To this day, I am so glad that I followed my instincts and chose to invest in a franchise. Franchising has eliminated the unexpected challenges of business ownership. If I have a question, I can reach out to the home office or a fellow franchisee and receive an answer within an hour. In addition to providing me with guidance on how to build the business, franchising has equipped me with the tools and resources that I need to get off the ground quickly such as a website, scheduling system and call center.

Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

My three keys to success are style, passion and attitude.

If you are planning to launch your own business, you need to find a leadership style that works for you. The leadership style you choose to use (and yes, it is an active choice you can make) has a direct impact on the result you achieve.

Similarly, you need to find what you are passionate about. Whether it's conservation, education or fundraising, you need to care about your business in a profound way to maintain the level of commitment needed to achieve your goals.

Thirdly, you need to have the right mindset. You need to be able to hear the word "no" and still be able to push forward without being discouraged.

Q: What's next for you and your business?

We have great momentum right now. The business has been expanding steadily month after month. Looking ahead, we want to continue growing while maintaining a high degree of customer satisfaction. We have excellent online reviews that we hope to build upon in the coming year.

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Wavy Line
Carly Okyle

Assistant Editor, Contributed Content

Carly Okyle is an assistant editor for contributed content at Entrepreneur.com.

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