Local veteran really cleans up

After serving her country, Captain Carol Poole is turning her attention to her community as the new owner of JDog Madison, a veteran-operated junk removal franchise.

A local veteran with 15 years of military service is turning her passion for the environment and leadership experience into a new business opportunity.

Captain Carol Poole of the Wisconsin Army National Guard is the new owner of JDog Madison, an American-owned, veteran-operated junk removal franchise that seeks to protect the environment by recycling, reprocessing, and repurposing used items it collects from both residential and commercial customers. A Madison-area resident since 2007, Poole dedicated her career to serving the country and her local community, and now a JDog franchise enables her to continue that mission while realizing the benefits of business ownership.

Entrepreneurship is actually in Poole’s blood, though franchising was an unexpected twist in her professional career.

“My parents opened a bicycle shop in our small town when I was 15, my grandparents owned a pizza shop, my aunt and uncle owned a bakery, my grandfather had a photography business and was in private practice as a psychologist — the list goes on,” says Poole. “I obtained my first business license at age 12 when my sister and I set up a concession stand by the lake where we grew up.

“As far as being a franchisee, that really found me, along with the junk removal business,” adds Poole. “When I met my business partner, Andrew Weins, he was running a successful JDog Junk Removal franchise in the Milwaukee area. He mentioned he was looking for partners to open in the Madison area, and after exploring the opportunity I fell in love with the company’s mission, values, and community service.”

Poole comes from a long line of military service. After growing up listening to stories about her father’s Marine Corps days and her grandfather’s service during WWII as an Army officer, she joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 1995 after graduating high school, and served for eight years throughout her undergrad and graduate schooling.

Upon her honorable discharge in 2003, Poole took a job as a civilian contractor for the U.S. Navy for four years at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan. Relocating to Wisconsin in 2007, she joined the Wisconsin Army National Guard in 2009 as an officer candidate. Poole currently serves as a logistics officer for the Wisconsin Army National Guard and works in the Joint Forces Headquarters as an advocate for victims of sexual assault. Prior to her position with Joint Forces Headquarters, she also worked in recruiting for nearly five years as an officer recruiter and served six years with the 147th Aviation Battalion as a logistics officer.

“Aside from JDog’s support and commitment to military veterans, what was even more compelling and attractive to me is the sense of environmental stewardship that is ingrained in the company culture,” says Poole. “JDog’s values just align perfectly with my own. As part of our environmental mission, every item we recover is touched by human hands at least twice and examined for its ability to be donated, sold, or recycled. If we recover an antiquated piece of equipment that can’t be reused or donated — for instance, a decades-old tanning bed — we don’t just earmark it for the trash. We disassemble and break it down into as many recyclable components as possible.”

Taking out the trash

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Poole is good at cleaning house. Since moving to the Madison area — she currently resides in Monona with her significant other, Paul, their daughter, Isabella, and four rescue animals — she’s been a member of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls roller derby league. “I skated under the pseudonym ‘Cannonball-Z’ for the Quad Squad for five seasons and also for the Mad Wreckin’ Dolls for one season,” she says.

“Carol has all the qualities of successful business owner,” says Jerry Flanagan, founder and CEO of JDog. “The leadership training she received as part of Officer Candidate School, her practical experience managing and organizing the movement of soldiers, trucks, and supplies as an Army logistics officer, and her passion for environmental preservation fully equip her to grow and manage a successful JDog business.”

Poole is one of 14 female JDog owners nationwide, and one of two JDog Midwest franchise owners who are veteran officers.  

Poole says she admires JDog’s dedication to empowering veterans through entrepreneurship and employing veterans. “I’ve found that veterans employed by JDog Junk Removal have truly found their place and feel more comfortable at JDog than they have working anywhere else outside the military.”

As such, JDog Madison currently employs two full-time and four part-time employees, three of whom are current members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

True to her background as a logistics officer, Poole primarily spends her time with JDog focused on sales and marketing, as well as keeping up with the office work. “I try to spend 70% of my time networking and selling JDog Junk Removal services, but I help out on jobs as needed,” she notes. “The best part of this job is giving back to the veteran community by providing employment opportunities. My least favorite part is that I can’t hire everyone!”

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Poole’s JDog franchise currently serves all of Madison and the Greater Madison area on a regular basis, although her team will travel for jobs that are the right size.

“We work with a wide range of consumer and business customers,” Poole notes. “The largest segments of the consumer market include seniors transitioning to a new living situation and homeowners preparing to sell their homes. On the business side, the largest segments include property managers and construction companies, retailers, and real estate professionals.”

JDog charges for its services based on capacity, which ranges from a single item pickup like an old refrigerator to a full 16-cubic-yard trailer. In addition, JDog charges clients an hourly rate for hauling services and mini-demolition, such as ripping down a deck or taking apart a hot tub.

JDog Madison is part of JDog Midwest, which consists of 32 franchises across eight states. JDog Midwest keeps 60%–80% of the items it collects out of landfills; they’re instead donated or sent to dedicated recycling facilities for scrap metal, paper and cardboard, electronics, glass, and more. The company is continuously partnering with new recyclers, charities, and community groups to ensure items are disposed of in the most eco-friendly way. Its latest partnership with a local textile recycler ensures that even bed sheets, clothes, and other fabrics too worn or tattered for donation are repurposed for future use.

Nationwide in 2017, JDog Junk Removal recycled more than 20,000 tons of junk, and salvaged millions of dollars of products for donation, resale, and reuse.

Franchise story

According to Poole, the JDog leadership team has the entire country broken out into territories — hers is Madison. Each territory has a minimum of 200,000 residents. To date, JDog Junk Removal has awarded 545 territories operating in 35 states.

“After deciding to become part of the JDog Junk Removal family, my business partner and I spent two weeks in the Madison area to research our facility location, research strategic partners, and visit local veterans organizations,” notes Poole.

“After that, I attended a one-week training at corporate headquarters in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, with other new franchise owners from across the country. During the training I learned a lot about the history of JDog, how the business operates, how to best market the business, and various levels of ongoing marketing and operational support.”

Following her one-week training, Poole spent the next two weeks learning hands-on operational processes to launch and run a successful junk removal business. The last few pre-launch weeks were spent hiring veterans, attending networking events, planning JDog Madison’s grand opening, and running jobs.

Poole says the JDog franchise opportunity costs under $100,000, which includes the franchise license fee, wrapped vehicle, advertising in the region, and other operating expenses. JDog does not require expensive real estate commitments like most franchises, and financing is available through third-party sources. Poole says JDog Madison was partially funded through private investment.

Her early experience with the company has proven so successful she’s already planning an expansion to the Janesville area in the next 18 months.

For more information on JDog Junk Removal Madison, visit jdogjunkremoval.com/franchising/madison.

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