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One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure.

April 10, 2014

Ever buy a $5 piece of junk at a flea market and with a little paint, polish, and pizzazz turn it into something worth $50?  

It’s called upcycling, and it’s the new term for taking junk and turning it into something of much greater value.

So, how can you upcycle the business assets you didn’t even know you had?  Keep on reading to find out.

A Lesson from Wooden Pallets

Did you know that wooden pallets make up a $12 billion industry?  Yes, I said billion. I recently spoke at the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association’s annual leadership conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was called “Pallets Move the World,” and it certainly moved me. Just look around the room in which you are now sitting and consider that everything came on a pallet: your computer, chair, shoes, desk, and coffee cup.

These days, tons of old, broken pallets are turned into wood pellets for fuel. Plus, upcycled pallets become useful tables, chairs, wine racks, planters, spice racks, desks, and all sorts of practical furniture. Not only that, but our client Power Pallet Inc. in New York, even turns wooden pallet scraps into environmentally-friendly landscaped mulch… in four colors! It’s the perfect example of turning trash into treasures. Read carefully, because if you pay attention, you may discover that you have under-utilized assets in your own organization, too.


Is your business an underperforming asset? Do you feel that you have a lot more potential than you are actualizing? Find out in two minutes what hidden assets you have and how to leverage them.


Too Much Stuff

Why are we turning trash into treasures? For one thing, it’s good for the environment.  For another, it’s cost effective. And finally, it’s because we have way, way, way too much junk.  

Consider how incredibly consumer-driven our society really is. Last September, Apple sold a combined 9 million iPhone 5S and 5C smartphones over their first full weekend of sales. That’s 9 million phones in one weekend!  We keep making the same mistake over and over again, buying the next shiny new item and discarding what we own. We have clients who are making a fortune tapping into the flow of new and used phones.

We even have the misconception that people who buy all of these consumer goods are rich… when, often, that’s not the case. In fact, many of these buyers are acting irresponsibly, buying toys they really can’t afford.  

My daughter recently got married, and I gave her the same advice I give all my children: live beneath your means.  If you make $100,000, force yourself to live on $80,000. If you make $50,000, start living on $40,000. Always aim to live at least 20% beneath your income. Businesses should try this too… it certainly helps cash flow.

Tons of Stuff in Storage

Always buying something new leaves us with too much stuff packed away in our closets, basements, and storage.  Did you know that the United States alone has over 2.3 billion square feet of storage space? That’s more than 7 square feet for every man, woman, and child!  This makes the self-storage industry one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, all because many of us have too much junk.

For those who don’t want to save their junk, the hauling industry is also a billion-dollar marketplace. Then there’s recycling, which is a $500 billion global industry. Consider the success of cell phone recycling alone. For the five years from 2009-2013, it’s estimated at $561.7 million. Pretty soon, those 9 million new iPhones I mentioned earlier will also be junk, as newer smartphones come out.

Got Junk?

In 1989, 18-year old Brian Scudamore had the idea to start a company that hauled junk. Little did he know that, before his senior year of college, he would quit school and turn his future to rubbish… in a good way. Scudamore opened a business called The Rubbish Boys with the slogan "We'll stash your trash in a flash."  Eventually, he changed the name to 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Today he has nearly 300 locations franchised all over the country, as well as in Canada and Australia. Yes, there’s money in junk.

Another company turning trash (or at least useful parts) into treasure is U-Pull-&-Pay.  Located in nine U.S. cities, U-Pull-&-Pay picks up your old clunker, and then uses their salvage yard as a shopping center for used car parts.

Here’s the part that can impact your business right now.   

Underutilized Assets

Capital One’s commercials ask, So, what’s in your wallet?  Maybe we should be asking instead, So, what’s in your database? What's in your team? What do you have in your business that is underutilized? Yes, used pallets, car parts, old cell phones, and so many other tangible goods are all around you, but these tangible assets aren'ta business windfall for you. But what about your leads and customers? Just because someone didn’t buy from you doesn’t mean they wouldn’t buy from someone else, and vice-versa.  Make a deal with a non-competitive company in a similar field to share or exchange leads for a cut of any deals that are made, or make a combined offer. Why not? Underutilized leads are useless if not leveraged by someone.

If you’re a landscaping company, talk to a pool company. If you run a hair salon, talk to a nail salon. Old Spice and Head & Shoulders partnered recently to share millions of leads, since two lists are better than one. Ask yourself: who else has the same customer base as I do? Can I give them leads or receive leads from them?

But here’s the rub.

Most people are too scarcity-minded to benefit from this strategy. But that’s good for you! Jim Cecil is a great marketing man who focuses on "nurture marketing." He and I both knew of one another for more than 5 years. My clients bought from him, and his clients bought from me. Then one day, my secretary told me that Jim Cecil was on the phone. Really? Bottom line,we embraced each other, endorsed each other to our respective lists, and both benefitted from it. He has become a dear friend, even though others would consider us competitors. It’s a big world, and there’s plenty to go around. Stop worrying so much. Maybe you can take on the ideology that you are going to get what was ultimately meant for you, not a penny more or a penny less. The only choice is whether or not you can live abundantly.

Leveraging Skills

Another underutilized asset is skill. Harness the untapped skills of your employees, your community, or yourself. So many members of your team have skills that are not being used. This is particularly true with older or retired people. They often have tremendous, untapped business knowledge. And your younger team members can help you rock the social media world.  Give them a small budget, several hours to play, and let ‘em have at it. Get to know what your team members are passionate about; they may have talents that are not being used.

So What Can You Do?

Here are a few tips to maximize what you have and tap into underutilized assets.

  1. Don’t buy into the fallacy that newer is always better. Buy less and live beneath your means.
  2. Leverage leads by teaming up with suitable, non-competing businesses.
  3. Look for the underutilized waste or assets in your business or industry that can be harnessed.
  4. Review your skills and those of the people around you, in and out of the workplace.


Is your business an underperforming asset? Do you feel that you have a lot more potential than you are actualizing? Find out in two minutes what hidden assets you have and how to leverage them.


Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,