Client Name: Grant Broom
Business Name: College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving
Business Website: https://www.collegehunkshaulingjunk.com/manchester
SBDC Advisor's Name: Andrea O’Brien
What is your business? What do you do?
College H.U.N.K.S. is fully licensed, bonded and insured, and provides stress-free, full-service residential and commercial moving, junk removal, donation pickups, and labor services. The company strives to be environmentally friendly, with 70 percent of the items they pick up sold or repurposed, or sent to the landfill only as a last resort.
Broom spent just over nine years in the army and decided to leave it after his last deployment in Afghanistan a year ago. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, he knew he wanted to start a business, but wasn’t sure what type. When he met a marine who had recently moved to the area, he learned about the franchise opportunity with H.U.N.K.S. His is the first New England-based outlet, out of 130 around the country. His moving services encompass all New England states, while the junk removal part is limited to New Hampshire.
“Franchising seemed like a great way to start a business. You own your own, but you’re not on your own,” he said. He was also looking for something that was recession resistant, and moving and junk removal are definitely that. “People move in good economies, and they move when things go bad,” he said.
The College H.U.N.K.S. franchise had good profit margins and good culture, with core values Broom appreciated. “Building leaders is one of them. Leadership skills are just very important to have. It’s what makes the military great, and my hope is that whenever any of my employees leave the company, they leave better than when they came. We pay a lot of attention to training.”
When the shutdown began, what was the immediate impact on your business? (Were you or were you not deemed an essential business by Governor Sununu’s Executive Orders? Did you and/or your employees work remotely? Etc.)
H.U.N.K.S. was deemed an essential business in the shut-down period, and working remotely was obviously not an option. “The pandemic provided an opportunity for us to help people being restricted to their homes who began decluttering, organizing, or renovating their houses,” Broom said. “We were able to offer contactless pickup and help assist with this massive amount of decluttering across the state.”
How were you able to adapt (or not) during the first few months of the pandemic (mid-March to mid-June)?
Broom says, “We adapted right from the get-go by offering curbside, contact-free pickup where a customer could book their appointment and have unwanted items and donations removed without any human contact.”
Once businesses were able to open in NH, how did you adapt your business, services, products, and/or physical space (from mid-June to the present time)?
Broom explains that once the state began opening up, he capitalized on the sudden migration of people into the state from crowded, urban areas. “As a moving company, we are directly tied to the real estate market. Spring is always busy for moving. That market was delayed by about two months, and that led to a large demand for our moving services. In July, I had 30 employees and could have used 60,” he said. Broom’s wife, Ali, is a real estate agent who has also been very supportive in the business. “She’s very involved and she’s amazing. We have three kids and she’s holding everything together.”
Will you continue the changes and adaptations you have made once concerns over COVID-19 are behind us? Are you planning to institute more changes in the near future?
“We’ll always adapt to maintain an edge on our competition,” Broom said. He plans to continue streamlining the technology that allows for a move or junk pick-up with no human contact.
Are you collaborating with other businesses, municipalities, organizations, etc. for the first time or differently than in the past? If so, in what ways?
College HUNKS supports the Liberty House Veterans Group (https://libertyhousenh.org/), which helps homeless veterans find housing. After his spring launch, Broom held a lot of fundraisers for that organization, allowing the public to come “shop” through his storage warehouse. “It was open once a week and we just asked for cash donations,” he explains. “We hope to do more of that when we have a slow time.”
He is also planning to provide a Thanksgiving meal for 15 families, and he’s advertising that through his customers, who can donate cash or food if they wish.
If you have employees, how has your workforce been affected (number pre-pandemic and current, furloughed, laid off, WorkShare, returned under PPP, etc.)?
Broom currently employees 23 people, which has grown steadily from the beginning. “We were able to recruit some very talented and hard working individuals to start.” College HUNKS was not eligible for the varied small business relief programs Congress established because it had not been in operation at least a year.
How has SBDC helped you and your business, especially in the last year?
“SBDC was extremely helpful in opening my business,” Broom says. “Andrea O’Brien provided critical market and demographic information that was crucial in developing and executing my business plan.”
Broom ultimately sought a business loan to pay for his trucks and other equipment, and a working capital loan. “The market data Andrea provided helped the bank decide to fund me. They knew I wasn’t going to just stand up the business and watch it fall to the ground,” he said.
This client story is part of NH SBDC's ongoing collection of COVID Creativity stories about businesses surviving and thriving during COVID-19.