headshot of Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman
Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman, co-founders, College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving. — College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving

It started out like many summer gigs: Childhood friends Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman were sitting around a table, figuring out how to make money while they were home from college.

The duo and their friends had landed on the idea of hauling people's trash in a beat-up cargo van borrowed from Soliman's mother.

"We were drinking beer and throwing out ridiculous, funny names, and my mom said, 'You're like college hunks who haul junk,'" Soliman recalled. "We thought, 'Hey, that's a cool name.'"

Little did they know that this was the beginning of an international franchise, now known as College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving.

With a brand name and a solid concept, the rag-tag group of college students posted flyers around the suburbs of Washington, D.C. It didn't take long for the calls to start coming in, and the friends spent the next few months waking up at sunrise and driving the van around to haul garbage for local residents. They had earned more than $8,000.

For the first time in their young lives, Soliman and Friedman had found their passion — not moving garbage, but being entrepreneurs.

"We didn't know what it meant [at the time], but idea of running a business and making decisions, leading a team — it was really something we took to," said Soliman.

What started allowing us to scale was ... being willing to let go — being willing to not be the guy who drives the truck and answers the phones.

Omar Soliman, co-founder, College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving

Scale and grow

The co-founders of College H.U.N.K.S. realized that in order to grow their business, they needed to hire the right employees to do the tasks they were used to doing. Read on for some best hiring tips.


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Scaling up by letting go

As the friends returned to their respective schools for their senior year that fall, Soliman found himself enthralled with the idea of running a business. He entered College H.U.N.K.S. into a business plan competition at the University of Miami and won the $10,000 grand prize.

It was then they knew they were on to something big, but to continue growing, they had to let go of the day-to-day and start working on — not in — their business.

"What started allowing us to scale was ... being willing to let go — being willing to not be the guy who drives the truck and answers the phones," Soliman told CO—. "We hired friends and friends' brothers, etc. The first time we let someone else drive, I was holding my breath. It was a scary thought that it wasn't me behind the wheel."

This approach helped Soliman and Friedman expand from their single cargo van to a fleet of eight D.C.-based trucks that were doing over $1 million in sales. In 2008, five years after their initial "summer fling" with entrepreneurship, the duo began franchising their business, and today they have about 1,500 trucks across the United States and Canada.

[Read: Insider Tips from 'Shark Tank' Contestants]

Friedman describes College H.U.N.K.S. — an acronym for their brand promise of Honest, Uniformed, Nice, Knowledgeable, Service — as a "15-year overnight success." This slow but steady journey has been the result of gradual iterations and improvements to the business.

"It's a function of patience, persistence and focus on execution," said Friedman. "When we were in our 20s, we wanted everything to happen immediately and every time we tried to shortcut [our] success, it would backfire."

Growth through culture and values

As Soliman and Friedman built their business, they also built up a rock-solid company culture that unifies the corporate team and its franchise partners.

The business lives by four core values — Always Branding; Building Leaders; Listen, Fulfill and Delight; and Create a Fun, Enthusiastic Team Environment. Each of these values is in service of their larger purpose: to "Move the World."

"We ... move people's belongings all over the world, but also create a positive experience where [people] interact with our company," said Soliman. "We do that by living our core values. [They] are the backbone of everything we do, from who we hire and don't hire, what we invest in [and] which franchise partners we bring on board."

[Read: 10 Popular Franchises and How Much They Cost]

As Friedman puts it, living those core values is about more than hiring movers and staff for their national call center.

"It's about better sales [and] better leaders," he said. "[It] gets reflected in the customer experience. Culture drives behavior, behavior drives results."

The success of Soliman and Friedman's business is truly a testament to the power of staying committed to your values and building a powerful team that lives by them. By creating a culture for both their customers and employees, these "college hunks" have turned garbage into gold.

Soliman and Friedman will be speaking alongside their "Shark Tank" mentor Daymond John at the Washington, D.C. CO— Summit on October 16 – 17, 2019. Click here for more details and to register for this event.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published October 09, 2019