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A Closer Look E-mail the author

Hauling by Steve
Steve Mulfur • 719-331-0025

Before he launched his waste hauling business, Steve Mulfur worked in management for a greyhound race track for 20 years. When the racing industry declined and the track closed, Mulfur placed an ad in a local newspaper to do odd jobs while he figured out what to do next.

He did some handyman work, but soon found that he made more money when he rented a truck and started hauling junk from homes and businesses. It wasn’t long before he bought a truck and founded Hauling by Steve. That was about ten years ago.

Since Mulfer’s business isn’t based on routes or regular pickups, he has to rely on advertising to bring in new business. “I’m trying to figure out what type of advertising does best,” he said. What worked best ten years ago isn’t as effective today, but he keeps looking for new ways to grow the business.

Mulfur works on his own most of the time, but when he gets busy enough he hires temps to help him out. The nature of the business makes it hard to schedule well enough to hire a regular employee and keep that person busy. Mulfur said he might have no work first thing in the morning and have multiple jobs at the end of the day – or none.

While Mulfur’s business isn’t predictable day-to-day, the downturn in the economy a few years ago didn’t really affect his business the way it affected many others. “It’s hardly a luxury to get rid of junk,” he said. On the other hand, his business is seasonal, with the most work in spring through fall.

Most of the business is waste hauling, but Mulfur also collects some recycling that he stockpiles until he has enough to take to a local recycler. The transfer station where he brings the trash also pulls out recyclable materials as they arrive.

Mulfur also picks up some useable items that he can resell, like desks or other furniture, but every job is different. One of the strangest things he was called in to haul out was a 1,500 lb. dead horse from a farm, but he said that dead deer often need to be removed from urban areas where they try to jump fences but don’t quite make it.

One of his biggest challenges is dealing with fluctuating gas prices that affect the cost of doing business. While he remains near his base in Colorado Springs, he might travel as far as 125 miles for some jobs – so fuel costs can take a bite out of profits. At the same time, disposal fees are always going up.

Meanwhile, “customers are very price sensitive,” Mulfur said. And it’s always a balance between what the customers want to pay and what he needs to charge to make a reasonable profit.

Some customers also assume their junk is still usable, but Mulfur said that most of the time, it really is destined for the landfill.

After ten years, Mulfur said that he most enjoys “being the captain of my own ship. I wouldn’t want to work for someone else and do this.” Since he calls all the shots, he can do things other companies might not do – like going inside homes to help haul trash out. If he has time, he also might use his truck to help people move.

While the majority of his hauling is from homes, some of that is done for realtors, or the junk comes from rental properties and from foreclosures that need to be cleaned out. He also does work for contractors as well as some offices and other businesses.

Mulfur said that when he started the business he didn’t have a lot of competition, but in the past few years, two national firms moved into the area, which makes it harder when he quotes on jobs. “I get four calls and get one job,” he said.

But he doesn’t mind doing all the quotes, since one of the things he enjoys most about the job is talking to all of the people he encounters. “You deal with all sorts of personalities and income levels,” he said.

He also likes the idea that he created a job for himself and grew it and nurtured it into a business that allows him to earn a living. All that, from a few ads looking for odd jobs.