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JDog Junk Removal takes a bite out of clutter

Dennis Stein, owner of the Islip JDog Junk

Dennis Stein, owner of the Islip JDog Junk Removal & Hauling franchise, started operating the commercial and residential junk removal firm in September 2020 as a direct result of the pandemic. “We saw there was a need for this type of business, with people looking to clean out their houses," he said.  Credit: Barry Sloan

The pandemic has forced people to spend a lot of time in their homes, and with that has come a flurry of home renovation and purging.

That's why Dennis Stein of Islip decided to become a franchisee of JDog Junk Removal & Hauling, a commercial and residential junk removal and hauling business.

Stein, who already owns two other franchised businesses — Mosquito Joe South Shore and a Fit Body Boot Camp in Bay Shore — in September became the first Long Island franchisee of the Berwyn, Pennsylvania-based junk removal company.

"I saw people were doing more work around the house than ever," says Stein, 47, who has seen business grow 10% to 20% each month since fall.

That’s expected to continue with national spending for remodeling and repairs to owner-occupied homes projected to grow to $352 billion in 2021, a 3.8% increase from last year, according to data from the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

The JDog trucks are camo-themed, and in order to buy into the franchise, a person must be a veteran or related to a veteran. Stein said he likes that connection to his late father, who was a Navy veteran.

"If he was alive, he’d love this," he says.

Newsday spoke to Stein about the business. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Junk removal is a competitive business. How long did you look before finding JDog?

I was looking at different junk removal franchises for three to six months. What caught my eye was that this is veteran- and family-owned.

What do you think is driving industry growth?

People were stuck in their homes for a year. They wanted to do projects around the house. They’re spending more time in their garages, attics and sheds and noticing they’ve accumulated a lot of things over the years.

How did you get the word out about the business?

We did a lot of digital marketing on Facebook, used Google Ads and yard signs. Plus, you can’t miss our camo-wrapped trucks.

How did you adapt during COVID?

We offered contactless pickup. Customers could bring items out of their home and put them in the driveway. We did a lot exterior jobs like patio cleanup. If we did go into the house we made sure to follow all COVID protocols.

You own three franchises. How does buying into a franchise help?

You have corporate support. The way I look at franchises, you’re in business with someone else rather than being by yourself.

What’s your coverage territory?

We’re the only JDog franchisee currently on Long Island, so we’re doing Suffolk and Nassau, but our territory is Patchogue until Massapequa on the South Shore.

What’s your pricing?

We price by the truckload. It ranges from $250 to $800, depending on volume.

What was your total investment to buy into the franchise?

It was $80K to $100K, which included purchasing a dump truck and F-150 [truck] with trailer. Our goal, if we continue to stay this busy, is to add another truck.

It has a veteran tie-in. Do you employ veterans?

We have three employees including one veteran. We’d like to hire more.

JDog also has a sustainability mission?

The corporate goal is to keep 60% to 80% of junk out of the landfills. Right now we’re at 30% to 40%. We’d like that number to go higher. We like to recycle, donate and repurpose. We’ve donated to Habitat for Humanity and AMVETS.

Future outlook?

I think people will continue to invest in their homes. We continue to book jobs. Spring cleaning is big right now.

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