Chicago junk removal company cleans up in a dirty business

Chicago junk removal company cleans up in a dirty business

Angie’s List member Rebecca Rush knew she needed help clearing the four decades of junk that had piled up in the basement of her 10-unit condo building in Chicago.

"It finally got to the point I couldn’t bear to look at it anymore," Rush says. That’s when she decided called highly rated hauling company Junk Removal 911 in Chicago.

"The crew was awesome," Rush says. "They arrived right on time, they worked incredibly quickly, and were pleasant and professional the whole time."

Taking a chance

A decade ago, Max Hanus took a risk and started Junk Removal 911 with a $30,000 home-equity loan. He bought his first truck for hauling items with that initial investment.

Today, the junk hauler employs a crew of 10, has four trucks and takes a progressive outlook on the greening of the trash removal industry.

"I started this business because I saw my competitors and knew I could do it better," Hanus says.

"A lot of people think when you call someone in our business, you’re going to get a bunch of idiots at your front door. That’s not how we operate. I pay my guys [well] and have loyal workers who have been working for me for years."

Hanus has built his hauling company on a reputation of sterling customer service — a trait he picked up young, as a 12-year-old caddy at a North Shore country club.

"I've known customer service my whole life," Hanus says. "I say, 'Treat your customers right, be polite and do a good job.' It's really pretty simple."

Working hard

Angie’s List member Karon Ordower recently moved from her home in the city, and had a large collection of wood, bricks, landscaping materials and other junk that needed to go in a hurry.

She found Junk Removal 911 on Angie’s List, and to her surprise, the hauling crew was at her home the next day to take away the unwanted items. She says she was impressed with the crew’s can-do spirit and hard work.

"We were quickly coming up on our deadline, and we were stressed," Ordower says. "We were surprised that they could commit to one day out.

"When they saw that we had more than we anticipated, they sent for another truck and more help. There was no downtime and everyone worked their tails off."

It's not that easy being green

It's no secret — junk removal is a dirty business. But the industry has changed over the years with the adoption of more eco-friendly regulations and customers who demand to know that some of what they're throwing away will be recycled.

Hanus says even though many in the junk hauling industry will claim to recycle 80 to 90 percent of what they remove, more accurate figures are 50 to 60 percent.

The Chicago hauling company donates what it collects to Goodwill, The Salvation Army and churches throughout Chicago to keep a lot of the "garbage" that still has a useful life out of the trash. Everything that can't be repurposed is sent to the transfer station where all items are sorted by material and recycled. What’s not recycled eventually will end up in a landfill.

"Green is definitely a buzzword in our industry," Hanus says. "It's easy for a lot of companies to say they’re green, but we put our money where our mouth is."

Junk Removal 911 has partnered with Chicago's Gateway Green program on its efforts to beautify Chicago's expressways. Hanus also has worked with Rebuilding Exchange, a nonprofit market for salvaged rebuilding materials located on Webster Avenue in Chicago.

For Rush, those recycling efforts were enough to win her business when she needed a junk removal rescue.

"I really liked the way Junk Removal 911 talked about their recycling efforts," she says. "There's no way to know if they really do the kind of intensive recycling they say they do, but I liked that they claimed it was a big part of their philosophy."

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