College HUNKS Franchisee Relies on Easy-to-Use Hooklifts
In 2008, Patrick Lombardi was among the thousands of college students graduating into a ridiculously competitive Tennessee job market — but despite the challenges before him, that’s where his success story begins. Instead of spending months struggling to land an interview, he decided he’d rather create an opportunity of his own.
Lombardi discovered the College HUNKS franchise and jumped in without hesitation. College HUNKS is a junk-hauling and moving service that started as a small business. Now, comprises many franchise locations across the country. Lombardi opened the Nashville location in 2012 with two trucks and four employees. “I loved everything about the brand. As a recent college graduate, I was excited for the challenge of starting and growing a business,” Lombardi says. Now, Lombardi oversees three locations, 22 trucks and 85 full-time employees.
Employees can be trained on the job, allowing Lombardi’s franchise locations to hire based on potential instead of experience. Many employees are college students looking for work over the summer, or young adults filling the gap between jobs. With a workforce primarily between the ages of 18 and 26, Lombardi is given the opportunity to mentor employees and help them navigate things like 401(k) plans, credit scores and car insurance.
College HUNKS is often a steppingstone to other career paths, resulting in a high turnover rate. Instead of seeing this as a disadvantage, Lombardi aims to help employees grow and develop, and steer them in the right direction for their future. “We understand doing manual labor and lifting furniture isn’t sustainable, so our goal is for employees to walk out the door a better person than when they walked in,” says Lombardi. “Whether that’s a better work ethic or a better understanding of the world, that’s what we aim to do.”
Hauling never looked so easy
Though he may experience turnover in his seasonal staff, Lombardi expects a much longer tenure from his equipment and suppliers. “We’ve gone through a lot of different equipment vendors over the years, and the ones that last the longest are the ones that are always there to support you and deliver a sustainable product,” says Lombardi. From an equipment standpoint, Lombardi looks for strength, productivity and ease of use, and when his longtime truck builder recommended a hooklift from Stellar, he didn’t hesitate.
“Initially, we used cable hoists for our hauling needs but pretty quickly switched to hooklifts,” Lombardi says. He cites fewer components, better integrations and easier training for the shift to the hooklift.
Lombardi and his crew rely on Stellar’s Flex36-108 Hooklift, now called the Shuttle16 Hooklift (Flex). The biggest difference between his Stellar® Hooklift and his old cable hoists is their strength. “The Flex36-108 is both bigger and stronger. That extra strength works in our favor when picking up and moving dumpsters. Each truck is still in perfect working condition, too, even when being used seven days a week for over a year now,” says Lombardi.
Previously, Lombardi’s crew had to run clutch pump hydraulic systems off the engine, instead of directly out of the transmission with a power-take-off (PTO) and hydraulic pump like the Stellar Hooklift offers. “With the direct system, you hit a switch, turn on the controller and guys don’t even have to get out of the truck. Just drop the hook, grab the container and put it back on,” Lombardi says. “We’re constantly training new employees due to our high turnover rate, so the increased safety and ease of just flipping a single switch is much better for us.”
The operator can stay in the truck throughout the entire process. This eliminates the need for them to handle a cable to hook to a container, which can lead to potential injuries. The hooklift system offers safer operation, mitigating any worry or uneasiness business owners may have. “The guys love them, they’re easy, they’re strong and they do exactly what we need them to do — their job,” says Lombardi.