Steve Arvoy sets out to make a difference as owner of College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise
Arvoy brings College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise to Northwestern Virginia
Steve Arvoy jokes that before he opened his College Hunks Hauling Junk franchise in Stephens City, Virginia, his winding career path gave him a resumé that “looks like the movie ‘Forrest Gump.’ ” He was a youth counselor for an organization that helps children and families recover from abuse and poverty, a Deputy Sheriff’s Officer in Phoenix, Arizona, a Marine who served in the first Persian Gulf War, and a sales representative who helped his customers improve their production as well as address environmental and safety issues in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The common thread: A desire to help people. “Helping people and doing something that is meaningful is very important to me,” he says. At College Hunks, he’s excited to mentor employees and help them build skills as marketers, customer service providers, and leaders. For customers, he is excited to represent a fun and exciting brand in an industry — junk removal and moving — that most people don’t associate with clean-cut professionalism and white-glove service.
Steve’s College Hunks franchise, which also serves Manassas and Winchester, opened in March 2016. This is his story:
Why did you decide that now was the time to become a business owner?
My last job was as a sales representative selling material handling equipment, machinery and services to industrial, commercial and government facilities, to help improve productivity, environmental and safety issues. It was a niche business. A lot of industrial facilities will have hundreds of work-stations and door openings, so the sales contracts were often in the five- to six-figure range. In heavy industrial contractor businesses it’s not unusual for a contractor to place a bid, start the job, then put in a “change order” to try to rake in more money after having underbid a job. People hate that. I went in and provided a very thorough estimate, then honored my word, and because of that, I did very well and made good money.
But I got burned out. I was bringing home great money, but I didn’t feel like I was making a difference. I felt like my paycheck was the only value I was adding in the world.
How did you find out about College Hunks?
I had seen their trucks around the D.C. area. I saw the website and the videos. I saw them on the CNBC show “Blue Collar Millionaires.” That was really neat. I saw how they took this traditional business of guys out with containers and made it into something exciting. I saw that they had a niche, and I thought, “I can do that.” I saw a niche where I knew I could capture customers and be very successful by providing a higher level of service.
How did you feel this business would allow you to add value to the community?
One of the core values, which I find very attractive, is “building future leaders.” Helping people and doing something meaningful is very important to me. Bringing on people in need of income — college students, young guys, or people who are full-time — gives me a good feeling because I not only provide them with a way to earn an income, I also help them develop their skills and knowledge.
One of the college guys on my team has classes that wrap up at 4 p.m., and I reached out to him and said, “Hey, if you want to come join me tonight, I’m going to be knocking on doors, making calls and placing signs.” I know he appreciated making a little extra money, but he also got to see, “This is how we do it. This is how we start building awareness and getting customers. This is how I introduce myself, and have a conversation with customers, and start to earn their business.” I’ve been building these skills for years, and he can learn from me. Then, whether he grows with College Hunks or pursues his niche elsewhere, he’ll have more skills and know-how. I already know he’s talented.
On top of building leaders, I’m also helping the community with recycling. Remember when everybody used to talk about recycling? It seems like it disappeared, but I know there is an audience for it, and I know there’s a lot of value in it. A lot of the junk we remove makes its way to donation centers and to recycling centers. Not all “junk” is really junk. Some of it is still in okay condition or can be put to good use. We are serving a purpose. We’re not just picking up stuff and filling up landfills.
Describe the process of getting started with College Hunks Hauling Junk.
I spent a lot of time with (Franchise Development Manager) Frank Morrison on the phone, learning about the company. I also visited a couple of the local franchises. I did a lot of personal visits with Brad Westermann in Falls Church. I did a lot of research on the company. I probably looked at every video, every bio on the website.
One of the things I liked about College Hunks was that when I went to Tampa to visit, (company co-founders) Nick Friedman and Omar Soliman spent a lot of time with me. I went to Discovery Days with other franchises and it felt a lot more corporate, where you had no contact with the ownership and they were always a few steps removed from who you were talking with. Nick and Omar are part of the team.
So you considered other franchises. Why did you choose College Hunks?
I originally thought I would open a restaurant. I looked at several and had originally put down a deposit on a Firehouse Subs before finding College Hunks Hauling Junk, and as I looked into this, I just felt good about it. A lot of the work I’ve done in the past is in customer service, and I saw this as a way to use those skills. The outlay was a lot less, too. With College Hunks, I was able to take a lot of the money I had set aside for startup costs and hold onto it to provide a cushion. That’s nice, because I’m not in as much of a mad rush to turn an instant profit, and can concentrate on building my business and my team the way I want.
Do you have family that will be involved in the business?
My wife, Tracy, has worked in the same plastic surgeon’s office for more than 15 years. There’s a lot of loyalty there, and a great group of co-workers, so we’re not in any hurry for her to do anything different. We’ve been married 24 years, and she’s the reason we’re here. She’s originally from Maryland, and she is very close to her family. We met out in Mesa when she was going to Arizona State and I was a youth counselor. I took a second job part-time working at a restaurant and she was a hostess, and I won her over.
What is the genius of this brand, when you strip everything away?
It’s a brand that, just by going out and being in public, generates a lot of excitement. This big bright orange truck with the name “College Hunks” gets a lot of attention. People are like, “Hey, we like the name. That’s awesome!” I had a lady at a gas station walk right up, and that happens often. They come to you! They ask questions. They’re intrigued and interested, and they ask what we do.
What are some of the things that stand out about the leadership team?
You get the sense that Nick and Omar really, truly care, and that sets a tone for the whole organization. When I first signed the franchise agreement, I opened my email and there were probably 20 “welcome” emails. That was nice. Then, a couple days later, a bottle of Champagne came in a UPS package from Nick and Omar. That stood out. What stood out even more was January 24th, when my son gave me a call on his birthday and told me he got a birthday card from them. That’s pretty sharp. I like that!
Tell us about your kids.
My son Jordan is in software sales — he recently graduated from Radford University. My daughter, Maddie, a junior in high school, is member of the National Honor Society.
Is there any advice you’d give to someone considering College Hunks Hauling Junk as a franchise opportunity?
I think this is a business that is going to be successful as long as you put some hard work and some thought into it. If you are looking for turnkey business that drives itself, this isn’t it, but with work and thought, this business has amazing potential. The excitement level in this brand is special. There is a lot of positive energy. Tell them, hey, if you’re nearby, come up I-81 to see me.
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