From: Victoria Hirschberg, Victoria Advocate
Published March 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Building a Business on Junk

MISSION, Tx. — From the ornate decorations and columns that accent the Escamilla living room, it's hard to believe their home-based business is about debris, dirt and lots of junk.

About three months ago, Trinidad Escamilla and his wife, Dina, along with her father, Ricardo Ochoa, realized removing junk for local residents and companies could be good business. Armed with some classified ads, a logo and a Ford dump truck, the family created "The Junkman." "You do the callin'--We do the haulin,'" is their motto.

"We get rid of any kind of junk, construction debris," said Ochoa, a retired Sharyland school district administrator. "We do residential (removal). We can go out there and clean it up for you." It may not be the most glamorous business, but the trio agrees there is a definite need for a hauling junk, especially given the Rio Grande Valley's construction boom. The family also owns Tri-Ric, a residential construction company.

"They accumulate wood, debris," said Dina Escamilla, who doesn't haul but oversees marketing for The Junkman.

After seeing refrigerators or construction garbage dumped in canals, she said, contractors need a professional, fast-acting dumping service. If debris injures someone on a job site, the contractor could be liable, she said. The Junkman does not haul hazardous materials, but will pick up and dump -- only at the Edinburg or Donna landfills -- almost everything, including small items like a bike to cleaning an entire construction site.

Prices range from $25 to $425, Trinidad Escamilla said. An old refrigerator in the backyard -- which could be a danger to small children who play near the appliance -- costs $45 for the pick-up, removal and clean up, he said. The Junkman offers free quotes to interested customers.

Because many families now have two working parents, Ochoa said, it is easier to just call a company to remove junk. Although The Junkman now concentrates on customers in the Upper and Mid-Valley, expansion plans could be in the works. The company only has one truck, so workers try to fill it to capacity before driving to the dump.

"We're here to stay," Ochoa said. "We're not going to be here today, gone tomorrow." Asked what the rest of his schedule for the day looked like, Ochoa smiled.

"Going to the dump," he said.

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