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Removal Company Finds Value in 'Junk'

Dec 29, 2012

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to clean out your garage, basement, parents' house or the junk-filled foreclosure property you just purchased, Nick Degiulio and Corey Heidkamp of Lake Zurich-based Junk Remedy might be the answer.

No job is too large or too small for the old friends who went into business together in late 2009. The two bring social media marketing, an environmental consciousness and a concern for veterans and the needy to their business, which in the past would have primarily involved repeated trips to the dump. 

Degiulio worked for a couple of different junk removal companies after high school and after he graduated from the University of Montana, he was hired by a Denver junk remover.

Heidkamp was taking a totally different path as a PGA apprentice, hoping to become a golf pro. When the childhood friends met up again in 2009, golf's popularity was waning and Degiulio wanted to return to Chicago. So, the two decided to go into the junk removal business together. Degiulio knew the business and Heidkamp knew how to market and had lots of local contacts.

"Many of our first clients were people I once gave golf lessons to," Heidkamp says.

Today they have three employees besides themselves who work throughout the greater Chicago area, within a 50-mile radius of the city. They own three trucks and also have a 4,000-square-foot warehouse.

"We recycle and donate as much as we can from every job we do, throwing away as little as possible," Heidkamp says.

Anything that can be plugged in packed on pallets and sent to a recycler. Furniture and clothes are donated primarily to WINGS in Palatine or to Helping Our Heroes, a program to help returning veterans.

"We also work off other organizations' wish lists, filling whatever needs we can. We keep things out of the landfills and get to help some great local people along the way," Heidkamp says. "We have donated over $1 million in re-purposed goods since we have been in business and the client gets the donation tax receipt."

Heidkamp says one of the companies biggest jobs was cleaning up after a hoarder. "We took 16-plus truckloads out of that one house."

Junk Remedy gives free estimates, schedules a specific day and time for the work and handles all loading, labor, cleanup and disposal fees. They are also licensed, bonded and insured.

"We meet with potential clients and find out how they want the job done and then try to be as cost-effective as possible. We offer a very significant bang for our clients' buck. Our minimum fee is $115 and it goes up to $550 for a full truck.

"All of the hauling, labor and disposal fees are built into the price of the truck. In addition, any goods that can be donated are donated and the client gets to itemize those donations," Heidkamp says.

Hiring a professional to handle this type of job is preferable to spending hours of free time doing it yourself, Heidkamp believes, because time is money and getting the necessary Dumpster permits and paying the disposal fees can be time-consuming, too.

"Much of our business comes through word-of-mouth and social media referrals from satisfied customers," he says. "We have a very high referral rate. Our website also gets lots of hits."

Heidkamp is also very involved is local real estate boards like the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors.

"We work with Realtors, contractors and asset managers for banks to get foreclosed homes sale-ready," he said. "In one day we can get the home cleaned out, doctored up and broom swept for showing, so we are developing long-term relationships with these businesspeople."

Offering free cleanup services to local events like the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life and Arlington Heights' Salute 5K Run has also fostered relationships that have later brought them business referrals, Heidkamp says.

The company also used its trucks and manpower from the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors to assist in the assembly of Girl Scout cookie care packages for military members serving overseas as part of its partnership with Helping Our Heroes.