Linden Coyne does not look like the CEO of a junk removal company. A Washington, D.C., public school teacher for nine years, Coyne entered the waste business in 2003 after her husband Frank, a finance manager, quit his job.
"He had inherited a pickup truck from his father," says Coyne. "In the process of thinking about what we were going to do, he put an ad in the paper just to make some extra cash and we got a lot of phone calls. And so we thought, 'Hey, let's do this!'"
Neither Coyne nor her husband had any waste industry experience, but they knew from the outset that they wanted to set themselves apart. The first step was a distinctive, memorable name. "Junk in the Trunk," urban parlance for a sizable posterior, would seem to accomplish that. And then there are the pink trucks.
"We wanted some color that would kind of give you the sense of spring cleaning, something bright and fresh," says Coyne, adding that the concurrent birth of the couple's daughter provided additional pink inspiration.
Junk in the Trunk further distinguishes itself through its community-focused approach and environmental initiatives. "Clearly, being a junk removal company, we noticed early on the responsibility to recycling and donating and trying to keep things out of the landfill." That's a tall order for a three-truck firm with no warehouse, operating in a city with limited recycling resources.
"D.C. is a little bit challenging in terms of donation facilities," says Coyne. "It's not San Francisco."
To work around this, Junk in the Trunk forged relationships with donation facilities like Goodwill and AMVETS. This allows drivers to drop off items at any time, rather than during the organizations' sometimes inconvenient receiving hours. The company also partners with community organizations through its "Gone for Good" initiative to conduct donation and recycling events, such as a recent bike drive with Bikes for the World and a shoe collection event with Soles4Souls (see p. 28). A used book drive and an e-waste collection event are forthcoming.
Seeking a way to benefit the environment and generate efficiencies, Junk in the Trunk will soon be launching its "Share-a-Load" initiative, which encourages neighbors to coordinate pickups in return for a 10 percent discount on junk removal and a lower cost per cubic yard due to the greater load volume per trip and fuel savings. In recognition of these efforts, Junk in the Trunk was the first trash company in the nation to be certified "green" by the nonprofit consumer organization Green America.
Coyne says Junk in the Trunk is eyeing Baltimore and Annapolis, Md., favoring regional expanion over franchising so as to maintain her firm's hands-on approach.
"We're really going to have to get involved in the communities where we grow. It's really important to us to have a good idea about where we're going to be and what's around us."