By Fabian Sandler
Soldiers, sailors, and Marines. They are our front line of defense. Their lives are filled with order, discipline, routine, and sometimes indescribable challenges. Their experiences instill in them a unique set of hard and soft skills that they eventually bring with them back to the civilian world and workforce. In some cases, these skills easily transfer. In others, the transition can be more difficult.
It’s why one local Veteran started his own business: To give other Veterans opportunities to flourish in civilian employment and help each other adapt to life outside the service.
Rooted in military service
Timothy (Tim) Colomer served 14 years in the Marine Corps in what is arguably the most dangerous job in the service: an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician. In other words, he de-armed bombs for a living. From 1993 to 2006, Tim disposed of countless explosives in Iraq and the United States, clearing paths to keep the soldiers, sailors, and Marines he was deployed with safe. But in 2006, the vehicle he was riding in was hit, changing the course of his career.
“Threats that day in that area were high,” Tim recalls. “We were en route out to an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) when we unknowingly ran over a pressure plate, or something similar, which triggered 150-200 pounds of explosives, and a large shot blew us from the bottom up. We were really fortunate because the vehicle was MRAP (Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected); in other words, it was designed to be blown up. We were knocked out for a few minutes, but thankfully, nobody was killed.”
Still, the blast and his resulting injuries ended Tim’s military career. He left the Marine Corps the following year.
Tim spent the next few years applying his EOD expertise in a variety of high-profile private sector jobs, but he wanted to do something more, something bigger to help Veterans and fulfill his personal mission for service.
“I started looking at franchise opportunities and I landed on JDog, because its mission is so aligned with my morals and values. The company only sells franchises to Veterans and Veteran family members, and it provides an opportunity for Veterans to work with men and women who have a common background of military service,” he says. Tim was sold.
He called his friend David (Dave) Gravley, a retired master gunnery sergeant and combat-wounded Veteran, and asked him to join in the venture. Dave, too, was an EOD technician in the Marine Corps, and he served more than 21 years of active service, including five deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the summer of 2017, Tim and Dave started JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Houston. At the time, they didn’t have much. “We worked out of a Lowe’s parking lot – we didn’t even have a building; we had a storage unit,” says Tim. “Then Hurricane Harvey happened, and the entire city was devastated. How do you respond to that?”
Both driven to serve, Tim and Dave saw the need to help the community recover from Hurricane Harvey. At the time, the nascent company had only a truck and a trailer, but Tim and Dave both knew cleanup would require more, so they went out and immediately added a dump trailer to their fleet.
Then their military training and operational precision automatically kicked in. Drawing on their prior experience clearing paths of explosive hazards for soldiers, Tim and Dave began removing debris and opening up lanes in the Kingwood streets so first responders and cleaning crews could navigate the affected neighborhoods. Working up to 15-hour days, Tim and Dave hauled load after load of debris and damaged items from flood victims’ homes and yards.
“We were uniquely positioned to serve our community,” Tim explains. “The narrow passage [through cluttered streets] only allowed for a pickup truck and a trailer. There were no garbage trucks, no dumpsters that could get in there until JDog cleared the way. I’m very proud we were able to help that way.”
Serving Houston with Respect, Integrity, and Trust
It was certainly a memorable start for JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Houston, which has grown rapidly since those early days. The business now employs 11 Veterans and has six vehicles –three operations trucks and three support vehicles. “In the next two years, we will support 40 to 50 vehicles and plan to employ 150 local Veterans,” Tim beams. “As we grow, we are always looking for dedicated Veterans and military family members to work with us.”
With all of Houston as their proverbial backyard, the market potential is huge. JDog serves residential and commercial clients throughout the region. “We’ll remove junk for just about anyone,” Tim attests. “The only thing we don’t remove is hazardous material like pool chemicals, chlorine, acids, or gasoline for lawn mowers. And we have a really quick turnaround. Our service can usually be done the same day or the next day.
“We essentially provide a white glove service. Our customers show us which items have to go, and our Veteran employees do all the heavy lifting. At the end of a job, our team goes the extra distance and cleans up properly; they’ll sweep, vacuum, dust, and leave the area cleaner than when we got there. It’s a military pride thing. From the day you go to boot camp until the day you get out, you’re judged on your uniform appearance and the way your room looks. We bring that attention to detail to our customers. Not only do we give them the best customer service possible, we share with them our military experience.”
Aside from cleaning out garages, attics, and other areas of homes and businesses, JDog does light demolition. “We found it works really well for real estate agents with clients who want to get rid of unneeded or deteriorating items, like a swing set in the backyard or a deck that is falling apart. Our team comes in and removes these items efficiently and respectfully.”
Up to 90 percent of the items JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Houston collects is repurposed, recycled, sold, or donated to charities, so that only a small amount of “junk” is actually taken to the landfill. For instance, JDog recently donated over $25,000 worth of medical equipment to be used by individuals in need through Project C.U.R.E, the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries around the world.
Everything JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Houston does, from donating its time to Hurricane Harvey cleanup to keeping items out of landfills, is driven by its Veterans’ shared commitment to service and to community. They represent the very best qualities the military has to offer. “It’s important to know that 100 percent of my employees are military Veterans. You can trust them around your home. You can trust them around your family. You can trust them around your valuables. All of my guys have the highest regard for our customers.”
JDog Junk Removal & Hauling Houston’s phone number is 713-301-4490. Discounts are given to the military, first responders, and teachers. Testimonials are available on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/JDogHouston.