- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

JDog: Making a Living While Making a Difference

by Janet Farley, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: JDog Junk Removal

Return to January/February 2017 Issue

Your time in uniform is coming to a close or maybe you’re just daydreaming about it. Either way, you’re starting to seriously think about what you will do professionally post-uniform.

While you may not know precisely what you want to do just yet, you do know that you want to be your own boss, set your own hours and continue to make a positive difference in your community.

You, my soon-to-be-civilian friend, may want to seriously consider becoming a JDog Junk Removal ( franchisee.

JDog Junk Removal is a veteran-owned, full-service franchise that was recently noted as one of the top 25 veteran start-ups in America by Forbes magazine (November 2016). They specialize in sorting, recycling, hauling and disposing of unwanted residential and commercial items.

Billed as the U.S. military veteran brand, their local business operators (business franchisees) are also veterans and veteran family members who “understand the importance of hard work, dedication and service to their country.”

“JDog Junk Removal is going viral. It’s awesome,” says Lauren Lampe, marketing manager for JDog Franchises, LLC. “We’ve grown so much this year alone. Since 2013, we’ve grown 142 percent. We added 33 franchisees in 2015 and 62 in 2016.”

Becoming a franchisee is relatively simple, too, assuming you have the necessary capital and the drive to be self-employed.

If you want to see if you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur, try answering the Small Business Administration’s 20 Questions Before Starting


If you are ready for the big step, then know these facts.

According to Lampe, capital start-up costs to become a JDog franchisee range from $41,000 to $104,000, including the franchise fee of $27,500.

“Capital will cover such costs as a truck and a trailer to haul things and advertising wraps for your vehicle(s). You have to think about funding your start-up marketing costs and other signage, too,” Lampe says.

You would also be responsible for paying for any required business permits, licenses and insurances.

But there’s also something significant that you don’t necessarily need to have. “What is really great is that you don’t have to have store front. You can run your business right out of your home,” Lampe says.

Environmentally Friendly and Committed to Helping Others

According to veterans who have taken the JDog franchisee leap, the organization is a good fit for veterans who seek the esprit di corps they had in military life.

“I love the fact that JDog caters to veterans,” says Gregg Schnupp, a retired Army military police officer who now works as a police officer in Montgomery, AL, while also managing a JDog business.

JDog also strives to be environmentally friendly and help others in the community who need it, including other veterans and their families.

“We try to repurpose, reuse and recycle as much as we can, striving for 100 percent. We want to limit the amount that is going in the dumps. A lot of our franchisees donate items that are still in good shape to veteran causes, groups and other worthy organizations,” Lampe says.

Schnupp adds: “In my community, we donate useable items to Goodwill and to King David’s Charity (a battered women’s shelter). Old doors and windows are donated to Habitat for Humanity.”

He’s not the only JDog veteran out there paying it forward, either.

“Sometimes we pick up things that can be donated to others in need, for example to homeless veterans,” says Dave Kaiser, who became a Myrtle Beach, SC, JDog franchisee in September 2016.

“At the end of the day, we get to make a living, pay our bills and help out our brothers and sisters in need. Not every day is like that, but those days it does work like that are nice,” Kaiser says.

Tyler Miller, a currently serving Army Reservist who just launched his own JDog business in October 2016 in Reading, PA, wholeheartedly agrees with the practice. “If someone can use the items [that others discard], then why not?” Miller says.

What Made These Veterans Choose JDog

”I retired in 2009 and went to work for corporate America as a defense contractor. In that world, you had to throw people under the bus in order to get ahead. In the military, you had to have each other’s back to succeed. I was missing that,” Kaiser says. “One day I was sitting in a waiting room trying to update my sons’ ID cards and I came across an article about JDog. I liked what I read. It seemed to fit with my goal of making a living while making a difference.”

He researched the company more and liked what he found.

“There is a lower cost of entry to get in, and you get great support from the headquarters. We can hire as many vets as we want and the company itself is veteran owned,” he says. “So far, business itself has been really good. There’s really a market for it. People contact me.”

“The initial challenge [in establishing the business locally] was just getting the word out that we were open for business,” he adds. “It has helped that our trucks and trailers (wrapped in advertising) are out there in the community. People pull in where they see our trucks and talk to us about doing work for them.”

Miller had been thinking about going into business for himself for some time.

“I went to one of the informational mixers about the company and I heard what everyone had to say, and it just seemed like a good fit. It seemed feasible,” he says.

Miller may not have a long history of actually working in the job yet, but he is certain that the skills he uses in the military will be useful in his new venture.

“The leadership qualities you learn and the traits that you live by in the military will also be instrumental, such as trust, honesty and integrity,” Miller says. “In the military, you work hard. I’m sure I’ll be doing that here, too.”

While Miller is just starting out in the business, he seems very satisfied.

”To tell you the truth, it feels more like family than anything else,” he says.

Schnupp and his spouse also had been contemplating becoming a franchisee.

“Me and the wife had been looking at couple different franchises. We wanted to find something that suited us,” he says. “I Googled ‘veteran owned franchises’ and learned about JDog. It took me six months of learning about it and seriously considering it before I actually made the phone call to get it going.”

It’s also worth noting that JDog is in the testing phase of a handyman service that’s projected to be franchised at the end of 2017.

As You Transition Out

The JDog veteran franchisees understand what it’s like to make the move from being in uniform to the civilian workforce, be it as a small business owner or as an employee working for someone else.

”There will be an element of fear. You’re going to something you’re not sure about. Remember, though that you are in the top 1 percent of the nation. Folks that come out of the military are a cut above others,” Kaiser says. “Don’t fear [transition]; embrace it. Use what made you successful in the military and let it make you successful out of it.”

Kaiser also suggests you be prepared to accept that some civilian employers may not give you the same level of responsibility you were accustomed to in uniform.

“I worked for [one major manufacturer] as a supervisor when I first got out. I’ll never forget one day when I was ordering supplies for my desk, my supervisor, who was about 14 years my junior, asked me if I was sure I needed a full box of pens to do my job,” says Kaiser, who can laugh about it now.

Kaiser also stresses the importance of planning for your transition.

“Planning is key. Develop a good plan and keep with it,” he says.

While Miller hasn’t exactly transitioned out of the service yet, he does understand the process of transitioning into a new job and he has some good advice for others.

“There are a lot of opportunities and options out there. I think that some [service members] feel as if they are kind of like the black sheep and don’t fit in somewhere on the civilian side of things where it is a different environment. Just know that there are people that can help you find your way, and there are a lot of different avenues,” Miller says. “Employers do value the skills you have to offer as a veteran.”

Schnupp advises service members to obtain any necessary civilian job certifications before getting out of uniform.

“If you want to go into securities trading, for example, make it a point to get the required civilian certifications before you get out of the military,” he says.

He also advises to do your research and make sure you have the appropriate marketable skills for the job you want to do. “Use the skills the military taught you. Having the ability to adjust on the fly, for example, will serve you well as a civilian,” he says.

Both Schnupp and Kaiser have some advice for those specifically contemplating a JDog franchise, as well.

“Know your area. Make sure the need is there for such a service and make sure you have the funding to do it. JDog will teach you a lot of the skills you need to know, particularly about small business ownership,” Schnupp says.

“Take it one day at time. Remember, it’s not a race; it’s a marathon. Most businesses don’t succeed not because they had a bad model but because they gave up too soon,” Kaiser cautions.

“Whatever capital you think you need to start your own business, double it and be prepared to not have an income right away,”he adds. “Be prepared. You have to work hard at first. Your schedule won’t be full at first. Be good at figuring out the marketing.”

Marketing, however, may not be too much of an issue for Miller as he also happens to be engaged to Lampe, the company’s marketing manager. They are planning a Spring 2018 wedding.

”If I ever have any marketing questions I have a great resource to go to,” Miller jokes. For more information about becoming a JDog Junk Removal franchise, visit

Janet Farley, Ed.M. is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is also the author a several career related books targeted to the military. Her most recent book is Military Life 101: Basic Training for New Military Families (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Visit her online at

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