Movers and Junk Removal London Ontario :
Kevin Houben, Chief experience officer at universitybrand, a moving and junk removal firstname.lastname@example.org
As a boy growing up on his family’s hog farm in Kerwood, Kevin Houben learned to work first and play later.
“We’d go over and visit friends and their dad would make us sweep the barn out before we could go out and play,” says Houben, chief experience officer at universitybrand.
“It was definitely different because growing up on a farm, hard work was driven into me when I was younger.”
It turns out sweeping barns would give Houben a taste for what was to come.
As co-founder of universitybrand, a moving and junk removal company, Houben has done his fair share of hard work.
He and business partner Chris Boundikas started the business in March 2010 with a pickup truck and trailer removing junk.
On their first job, they took away an old mattress.
Since then they’ve seen everything from a 1.2-metre-tall rocket and Second World War helmets to an old set of dentist’s teeth.
“Sometimes you just never know what you’re going to get into,” he says. “We just try to be professional with whatever they want to remove.”
Their offices are furnished with desks and chairs that other people have tossed away.
The company, which began as University Junk Removal, quickly grew to include moving supplies and movers, as customers asked for more services.
“It’s just kind of been a progression,” Houben says.
It recently underwent a brand change to bring all the different branches of their businesses under the one name — universitybrand.
For Houben, the mission isn’t just sending junk to the landfill.
The company works with Try Recycling, salvages what it can and pays to remove freon from old fridges so it’s not released into the atmosphere.
Its efforts have been lauded.
The company won the London Chamber of Commerce’s Environmental Leadership Award earlier this year.
“That’s something we’ve been doing since we first started the business, so it’s nice to get recognized,” he says.
And they’re doing even more to reduce their footprint, moving to a paperless billing model where customers sign off on their bill online and are then e-mailed a receipt.
Universitybrand was also a finalist in Venture London, the city’s premier business competition, this year.
While the business is entering its fifth year, Houben and Boundikas have known each other much longer.
They both earned hockey scholarships to attend Culver Academy in Indiana, a private military high school where Houben says he learned discipline on the 720-hectare lakeside campus.
The academy was a good experience, says Houben.
“It really opened my eyes to the possibilities out there because I’m from a rural area,” he says.
After high school, he returned to Ontario where he played for the Strathroy Junior B Rockets, chasing a boyhood dream to play professional hockey.
Later, he and Boundikas attended Western University, where they ran a College Pro painting franchise together, before they branched out on their own.
He added to his business acumen working for a small business in Sarnia that was trying to create a machine to wash transport trucks.
After university, he and Boundikas went their separate ways and Houben began working for a Toronto-based company that looked for ways businesses could save money.
For two years he lived in “an airplane and hotel room,” he says, jumping from work sites in California, Chicago and Houston.
Looking to set down roots, he reconnected with Boundikas about five years ago and the two started the company part-time.
“The good thing when you run a business is that you’re creating growth,” he says.
As universitybrand gained traction, the pair worked on the business full-time in its second year.
And just like their commitment to the company, universitybrand’s tag line is “integritas et industria” — integrity and industry.
“One of the reasons we came up with that was really about following through with our commitments and service to our clients,” says Houben.
Now, they have nine trucks on the road and in the summer, their workforce increases to about 35 employees.
While the company also hires full-time employees, most of its workforce is made up of young and energetic university and college students who bring excitement to the workplace, he says.
“That’s a big part of our culture within the organization, that people enjoy coming to work,” says Houben.