Steve Trotter’s recent “to do” list looked something like this:
1. Help veteran clean out his cluttered house.
2. Clean out homeless encampment.
3. Take 14 truckloads of construction debris out of the new Hospitality House site.
4. Donate used wheel chair and two walkers to the FREED Center for Independent Living.
5. Clear abandoned items from foreclosed home.
6. Take truckload of materials to recycling center.
While these may sound like monumental tasks, Trotter insists he’s never been happier. He spent 25 years of his adult life working in the high-tech field, where he had what he called “global responsibilities.”
An executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, he had offices in Europe, Asia and the East Coast.
“Every other Sunday, I’d get on a plane and fly to one of our other offices,” Trotter said. “It sounds exotic, but all I ever did was work. Sometimes I’d almost forget what city I was in. One day, I came home and said to my wife Colleen, ‘We need to make a change.’”
Trotter’s new life plan required three criteria: He would be home every night; he wouldn’t have to answer to shareholders or boards of directors; and no one would report to him.
“So we got real estate licenses,” said Trotter, who lived in San Jose at the time. “We were top producers for seven years. The only problem was we never had a real day off.”
The Trotters bought a vacation home in Lake Wildwood, which became a regular getaway.
“We’d come up on weekends, and it became increasingly more painful to go back to San Jose on Sunday,” he said. “We finally moved here permanently a year and a half ago. It was the best thing we ever did. But we weren’t ready to retire.”
While considering his next venture, he knew he had a longtime interest in recycling that dated back to the days when he ran Trotter Technologies and found ways to recycle massive amounts of surplus materials, such as software diskettes. It was cost-effective, and good for the planet, he said.
After seeing the urgent need for home junk removal while working in real estate, he sought out a franchise with an environmentally conscious philosophy. The result? Junk King.
The Trotters opened the doors of Junk King in Penn Valley in November 2011 and haven’t looked back. With a staff of five, Colleen oversees the books and the office, while Steve supervises daily operations.
Junk King is a full-service junk removal company. It will come to homes or businesses and remove everything except hazardous waste. From unwanted clothing to furniture to scrap metal and more, Trotter said their goal is recycling and reusing as much as possible.
Using an 18-yard dump truck — equivalent to six pickup trucks filled all the way to the top of the cab — roughly 60 percent of collected debris is recycled.
“We want to keep as much as we can out of the landfill — a lot of people don’t even know this kind of green service exists,” said Trotter. “Because a lot of items can be reused, we donate to organizations like Bill’s Wheels, Interfaith Food Ministry and the bike shop at Seven Hills Middle School. It’s not in our business model to try to sell items — we donate or recycle them. We love this area — we feel as though what we’re doing actually helps the whole community.”
There is no need for customers to drag or carry out boxes to the porch, driveway or curb, as the staff provides all the loading and cleaning. A key difference from paying a friend with a truck is that Junk King is insured — the workers are well-trained and bonded, he said.
It’s been a long road professionally, but Trotter — who claims he is now only making decisions that improve his family’s quality of life — says he’s finally right where he wants to be.
“It’s pretty hard to have a bad day in Nevada County,” he said. “Even if I have a tough day, I quickly move into vacation mode once I get home. Every day I’m reminded of why we moved here.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4203.