South Charlotte

Junk turns to treasure in hard economic times

Amid a tough economy and scarce jobs, two Charlotte-area men have started separate businesses in the same industry: junk removal.

Junk removal has become increasingly important as companies downsize or change locations, homes in foreclosure need to be cleared and downsizing families shed unnecessary items.

There also are those who simply need help removing yard debris or cleaning a cluttered garage.

Rubbish Works and Charlotte Junk Guys do it all - and give back to the community. They also show that a creative approach to job hunting can work.

Rubbish Works, a Seattle-based franchise, was brought to Charlotte in September 2010 when SouthPark resident Marty Scannell, 61, took a leap of faith, moving from decades of commercial real estate management after being laid off and unemployed for more than a year.

"I decided to start a company that would allow me to give back to the community and make a living," said Scannell. "That's why I only hire unemployed people to work for me."

Scannell connected with a couple of his employees through the Christians in Transition program for job seekers at Scannell's south Charlotte church, St. Matthew Catholic Church.

Randy Brantley, 58, was in the medical sales most of his life but had been unemployed for two years when he ran into Scannell, an old friend.

Brantley now helps with business development and goes on pickup jobs for Rubbish Works.

Only a month after Rubbish Works began, Zach Mefferd, 27, moved to Charlotte without a place to live or an income. He had been a sales manager for U.S. Cellular in Omaha, Neb., when he moved to Charlotte in hopes of pursuing his passion for racing.

After months of applying to more than 40 jobs, he decided to use the entrepreneurial skills he attained from his business management degree to start his own company.

"I used the capital I'd set aside for racing and decided to invest it into Charlotte Junk Guys," said Mefferd. "I hope in the future it will enable me to race again."

Mefferd bought a truck, set up a website and started the business in February.

"I do most of the jobs myself and try to keep costs low that way," said Mefferd.

Mefferd and Scannell donate and recycle the majority of their collections.

Charlotte Junk Guys donates to Goodwill, The Salvation Army and Carolina Refugee. Rubbish Works donates to several local charities, including Crisis Assistance Ministry, Goodwill and Classroom Central.

After they donate, each business takes recyclables to the county recycling center.

Scannell also has volunteered his truck and services to several charities, including the third annual Realtors Care Day on April 8. While the realtors gave back to the community by repairing houses and working in yards, Scannell went from site to site picking up recyclables and trash.

To friends and families, Scannell and Mefferd represent the ability to persevere when the odds are against you. "It's a lot of hard work and not necessarily secure, but I get to see my work develop and become something. There's a lot of pride in that," Mefferd said.