‘Not pretty’ OK for Junkluggers backer
Larry Janesky, left, and Junkluggers founder Josh Cohen are new partners after Janesky invested in the franchise. “I feel a really big gap in franchising between signing someone on and having them become really successful, and I really wanted to bridge the gap,” Cohen said. At left, Junkluggers staffers get to work.
Larry Janesky, founder of Contractor Nation and Basement Systems, has a saying: You don’t have to love what you do; you have to do what other people hate.
He’s doubling down on the statement—or you could say quadrupling down considering his three other business lines—by investing in Junkluggers, the 15-year-old franchise started by Josh Cohen when Cohen was a 21-year-old sitting around an Aussie campfire. His buddy said he made a hundred bucks hauling a fridge away.
“I thought I’d be rich. A hundred bucks? I made fliers, and started going door to door in my town, using my mom’s SUV, in New Jersey,” said Cohen.
Starting franchising in 2013, Junkluggers today has 21 franchisees and 60 territories sold.
Average unit volume is $630,000, with initial investment ranging from $100,000 to $200,000. It’s been much slower going than expected—like many, Cohen thought he’d sell 100 franchises the first year.
“While I wish I was further along, some things happen for a reason,” he said, citing Janesky’s investment in the fall of 2019 and the mentorship that comes with it.
“Starting a business at 21, I didn’t have any formal training,” said Cohen, who’s 36. “If we were looking for a partner it would be a strategic partner. I wasn’t just looking for the money.”
Cohen said he hadn’t been seeking an investor, although he’s “been solicited a lot.” But he’d heard of Janesky and his successful service business based in Connecticut. “After hunting him down, he invited me to come have lunch with him,” Cohen said. “I started to learn he actually built this massive network for contractors and home services businesses that he had personally trained and hundreds of them had become millionaires. I feel a really big gap in franchising between signing someone on and having them become really successful, and I really wanted to bridge the gap.”
As Janesky told Cohen: “If you help … enough other people become successful, you can become more successful,” and Cohen ended up attending Janesky’s School of Entrepreneurship in Seymour, Connecticut.
As for Janesky, the fit among the businesses is obvious: “We work with basements, crawl spaces and attics,” one division for each one at Contractor Nation. “People have junk, you know, and they need to get it cleaned out before they do the work in a lot of cases. So that’s synergy right there.”
He plans to focus Junkluggers on three priorities: Marketing, for one. Lead-to-job conversion excellence, for two. “I’m not calling a crisis to anything, I’m just saying that’s where we do better. You’ve got to get people to call and say yes, come over,” he said.
“And then I think leadership development,” both in Cohen’s case and with Junkluggers franchisees.
Janesky feels he’s bet on the right man, something he believes is a must. “Everybody likes Josh, right? He’s just a great guy,” he said. “I’m not interested in being involved with any business partner who you’re going to worry about in any way and Josh is just one of those guys. He’s there; you’re pulling for him.”
Janesky amplified his opening statement in this story this way: “You know what? We fix wet basements; it’s not pretty. We crawl in crawl spaces; it’s not pretty. We go into attics; it’s not pretty. And we haul junk now; it’s still not pretty. But it’s OK.
“We take what the consumer hates to do, and we do it well.”