When Jeff Naeem was 23 years old, he worked in New York City as a wealth and insurance planner, but the 14-hour daily grind wore on him. Nearly a year in, he was bored and burnt out.
“Just around that time, my friend came up with the idea of starting a junk removal business,” Naeem says. “My initial reaction was … ‘that’s not a real thing.’” I laughed at him. He had brought other ideas to me in the past that were way too convoluted and not something that I was interested in. This time it was different … “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I figured this was the best time to be one since I was young and no one was relying on me if the plan failed.”
Over the next six months, Naeem and his friend came up with a name, slogan, colors and a business plan. … Just like that, Junk-A-Haulics was born.
“I remember it hitting me when I decided to go all in with the business. I thought, ‘Wow … I’m trading in my suit to become a garbage man,’” says Naeem, now the sole owner of the Morristown-based company.
Garbage men perhaps at first glance, but the team at Junk-A-Haulics provides much more than the typical garbage pickup service. Customers will call and schedule a free estimate, and a Junk-A-Haulics truck will head to the location to view the haul. Most customers would book the company within a day. The junk, hauled by hand into a truck, is donated, recycled or disposed of in an eco-friendly way.
“We try to donate as many items as we can,” Naeem says. “Some charities we work with are Market Street Mission in Morristown, Morris Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Randolph, Goodwill and Salvation Army.”
Junk-A-Haulics is headquartered in a modest warehouse, which is also used as a temporary storage facility for items that are picked up.
“Most of the stuff is constantly moving, so we don’t need a lot of storage space. Everything comes in and then is out the next day,” Naeem says.
Everything inside the warehouse, from an employee fitness area to the shelves that hold other items, was acquired from an on-the-job haul.
“The craziest stories are usually the situations we find ourselves in,” Naeem says. He describes a time when his team hauled 10 truckloads of junk out of a stray-cat infested house in the summer heat.
The path to mold Junk-A-Haulics into a successful business was not without its challenges. From starting with zero employees and having to round up friends to help him haul junk, to completely shutting down all operations early on to apply for a waste management license and save up capital, Naeem stuck to the original vision.
“Today, the biggest challenge is managing the growth,” he says. “We’re constantly being pushed up against it, needing more trucks. Within the next five years, I’d like to have 5 to 10 franchises, and ultimately down the road, be recognized across the country.”