CO-FOUNDER, COLLEGE H.U.N.K.S. HAULING JUNK & MOVING
HOMETOWN: Washington, D.C.
ALMA MATER: Pomona College (Claremont, CA)
NICK FRIEDMAN: “My co-founder Omar [Soliman] and I went to high school together in Washington, D.C., and then we went to colleges in different states. He went to Miami, and I went to school in California, but during summer vacations we would be back home in D.C. The summer before our senior year, his mom had this beat-up cargo van that she offered to let us borrow to go around town doing odd jobs. We came up with this name, “College Hunks Hauling Junk,” thinking it would be a catchy way to make the phone ring. We made decent money that summer.
“We went back to school our senior year and wrote a business plan. It won an entrepreneurship competition, so that gave us a little more confidence. After college, we got regular jobs briefly, but we then decided to start the business full-time in D.C. We quickly realized we didn’t want to just be a couple of local guys in a truck. We wanted to be a national brand; that’s how we chose franchising to try expanding nationally. Now we have over 100 franchises around the country with a couple of thousand employees and close to 200 employees here in Tampa.
“When we first started we were doing all the work ourselves, but Omar and I are essentially the visionaries at this point. Our five key roles in the company are to make strategic bets for the future of the company, to define the vision and the culture that we believe is ideal for the company, to provide the resources for our team members, to break down the barriers for our team members, to hold our people accountable and to be a cheerleader. We try not to get too bogged down in the technical aspects of the company to keep a 50,000-foot view. Vision, culture, resources, barriers, accountability and cheerleading. Those are the areas we focus on.”
PHILANTHROPIC EFFORTS: American Heart Association Heart Ball, Children’s Dream Fundand Children Across Borders. In 2017, College H.U.N.K.S. Hauling Junk & Moving began a partnership with Feeding Children Everywhere. The company donates two healthy meals for every completed job around the country, with a goal of donating more than 1 million meals in the first three years.
WHY FEEDING CHILDREN EVERYWHERE: “We consider ourselves [to be] a purpose-driven, values-based, socially conscious organization, and we wanted to align our company with an organization that we felt resonated with our passions. This year we’ll donate over 300,000 meals to the organization. We did our grand opening ribbon cutting for our new headquarters here in Tampa, and we hosted a Hunger Project where we boxed 25,000 meals for Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding Tampa Bay. We also participated in a hurricane relief project with DeBartolo Development through Feeding Children Everywhere and helped box over 250,000 meals in one day.
“This organization is the one I’m most passionate about because there’s an experiential component to it. I think if you’re just writing a check it can be very left-brained and sort of surface level. When you actually get to experience something, there’s something right-brained that pulls at the heartstrings and makes you feel a connection to the cause you’re involved with.”
MENTOR: John Sykes, the founder of Sykes Enterprises. “He’s been an awesome inspiration to me because he’s been an entrepreneur his whole life and built a very successful company. He’s also extremely philanthropic and understands the importance of giving back. He’s also given me some great advice regarding that, too. He said you have to be somewhat disciplined because there’s an infinite number of causes that can benefit from your time and money, but there’s only one you. There’s a limit to what you can ultimately give. You have to be selective to make sure it aligns with your values and your passions so you’ll be able to make the most impact.”
MOTTO: Chase the vision, not the money. “Have a purpose or vision over and above just being financially successful. Especially as an entrepreneur, there are so many ups and downs and so many times when you’re not going to have as much success as you planned for. You have to have something more important than just putting up dollar signs to motivate you to get out of bed in the morning. That’s been important for me as business has grown.”
BEST PIECE OF ADVICE I’VE EVER RECEIVED: “My dad recently told me, ‘You’ve got a great business; you’ve got a great family; you’ve got a great life. Don’t mess it up.’ I think the only person who could probably mess it up at this point would be me [laughs].”
WHEN I’M NOT IN THE OFFICE YOU CAN FIND ME: “Traveling or at home with my family, playing with my kids.”
LAST BOOK I READ: “Crossing the River” by Shalom Elati. “It was written by my cousin, who is a Holocaust survivor, about his survival experience. That was pretty eye-opening. But I mostly read business books. My favorite book is “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie.”
FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA: The quality of life. “The weather; the cost of living; the people; the airport; the beaches. There’s so much to be grateful for with this city. I think the community is, as a whole, supportive of one another. I think the city is moving up, which is kind of fun to be witnessing and be a part of.”
APP I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: Uber
DREAM VACATION: Australia and New Zealand for at least a month