(From left to right) Owner Justin Decker and COO Corey Owens work hard to invest in their employees and customers.
A Child’s Path to Success
Justin Decker was only 13 years old when he started working for a landscaping company to help support his single mother. At an early age, Decker took on so much responsibility, which would change his life forever. Little did he know he would be the owner of Buddy’s Services LLC 11 years later.
How It All Began
The landscaper that took Decker under his wing taught him how to talk to customers and do estimates. Decker says, “I learned a lot of management skills from him.”
By the time Decker was 17, he had his first child and started working multiple jobs to support his family. Finally, when Decker was 24, he realized he had the skill set, mindset, and toolset to work for himself at this point. He wanted to spend more time with his family and not try to juggle jobs but be able to throw himself completely into one endeavor.
“I’m going to start my own landscaping business,” Decker says when speaking about the beginning of his journey. “I have the experience. I’ve been doing it for years now. So, I went ahead and started knocking on my neighborhood doors. I quit my daytime job and did that and then worked my nighttime job. Within a couple of months, I had 30 clients.”
Welcome To Buddy’s Services LLC in Calabash, North Carolina
Justin Decker now runs his company, Buddy’s Services, LLC, based in Calabash, North Carolina, with his brother-in-law, Cory Owens.
When Owens joined the company, he brought on his experience in hardscaping and handyman work. While on jobs, they often were asked if they had any references for a company like theirs that could haul away junk or fix things in the house.
Welcome Buddy’s Junk Removal Services
“It was a need from our customers,” Decker says. “It was very hard for people to find committed companies willing to do what they say they’re going to do.”
At the time, they decided to add junk removal services to their existing customers. Buddy’s Services customers liked that they always answered the phone, arrived early to jobs, and did what they said they would do.
Pouring Into The Community
“I’m a Christian, and I look at the fact that Jesus had disciples, and he loved the people he was with, and he poured into them,” Decker says. “So how can I pour into my customers and just plant seeds? That’s what I was trying to do. We had 30 customers, and I poured into them, and we would spend time with them, and we would hear their needs. We would solve the issue when there was a need, and we could solve it for them.”
Our mission statement says it all:
Growing the Business One Division at a Time
After adding this other service, the business’s success started to snowball. Decker says the additional services allowed them to utilize their equipment during the off-season.
“Junk removal is very easy,” Decker says. “You already have a trailer on site. You have dump trailers and enclosed trailers – why not utilize what you have? All you’re doing is hauling it away. So, I realized the profit margins on junk removal are much higher than anything we’ve done in landscaping.”
Decker decided to rebrand the three services into different divisions:
- Lawn Buddy’s
- Buddy’s Junk Removal
“There are customers out there that don’t want to hire a junk removal guy for landscaping,” Decker says. “So, until they know your business model, you have to be separate. Once they get to know you and realize you have specialized guys who specialize in each service, then they begin to trust you once they get to know you.”
Buddy’s Services LLC Grows Their Team
As they added team members, Decker decided to open the services so customers could choose which services they wanted to hire a Buddy for.
Eventually, they were able to hire:
- an operations manager
- landscaping manager
- handyman manager
- junk removal manager
Each manager has a separate crew. During the fall and winter, if things slow down for the landscaping crew, they can easily transition to handling junk removal.
Buddy’s Services Has Partners, Not Employees
“We create not employees here, but partners.”
While the staff can do what is needed, they each have their own lane and know their responsibilities. The crew leaders can step into different positions if needed.
Buddy’s Services LLC Training Leaders
“Our crew leaders are trained in every division,” Decker says. “The people we put in leadership positions are the people we see ourselves in.”
Handyman crews have in-house employees who can handle minor repairs and maintenance. Still, they typically work with subcontractors or refer their clients to another local business for home remodeling or home additions.
When Junk is not Junk, Buddy’s Services Donates to Calabash
As for junk removal, they will keep items of value, like working appliances and clothes.
“This junk is not junk,” Decker says. “This is nice stuff. We keep it for a month, and we give it away. We find people and families in need, and everybody is willing to do whatever for the company to help the company.”
Buddy’s spread the word through local churches and on Facebook to find people in need, and they can pick up the items they want. Decker says he noticed that by donating the junk, their customers respond more positively to that, as opposed to knowing the company is reselling their items.
“It fits our company vision better on planting seeds and pouring into people,” Decker says.
If they can’t give away any of the items by the end of the month, they either scrap it or haul it to the landfill.
The pricing of the junk removal jobs can vary drastically just due to the location from a one-story house to the 13th floor of a resort.
“The same job may take 15 minutes to half an hour on one location, and then this location where you’re on the 13th floor may take an hour and a half,” Decker says.
Decker charges an additional fee for customers farther away, so a couch removal an hour away can cost $600.
“I don’t feel good about taking $600 from somebody to remove a couch because they live an hour inland, and they don’t have anybody to do it for them,” Decker says.
He hopes to one day have remote locations in Charleston and Wilmington so they can have crews service those areas and can afford to offer better rates. Currently, their service areas are Brunswick and Horry County.
Team Building and Second Chances: Helping the Community Gain Employment
Decker says his strongest skill is team building. During the off-season, they have ten employees, but they’ll ramp up to 20+ workers in the summer.
“I know how to inspire people and make them feel a part,” Decker says. “Adding the right team members helped us grow into an actual professional company.”
Decker will hire people from halfway houses and recovery houses as day laborers during the summer. If they prove themselves, he often gives them full-time jobs.
“A couple of my other guys have turned out to be clean and amazing team members, they’ve completely changed their lives, and now they’re in leadership roles,” Decker says.
He says they do have to be mindful when working with people with past problems because some customers like it but it makes others uneasy. He says he encourages the employees to be honest and upfront with him, but he never puts a day laborer on the job site without someone they also trust.
“With anybody with an addiction, they’re going to battle that for the rest of their life,” Decker says. “The more they have security and a team around them, and company cultures, the better off they’re going to be, and day by day it gets easier and easier.”
Decker says their main core value is to take care of people. He works hard to improve their company culture daily.
“Our goal is to be able to be a service company that provides services to customers and that we can pour out some good into the world because there’s so much negative out there,” Decker says.
We look forward to serving our community and continuing to offer unparalleled service in Calabash, North Carolina, for years to come.