By Sue Moore
The first day Tim Galovan’s classified ad ran in the Kalamazoo Gazette for his Student Haulers business 17 years ago, he made $300 before lunch break, and a career was born.
He only had $40 in his pocket to spend on the ad, which the salesperson said would cost $60. She shortened the ad to fit his budget, just calling it Student Haulers and the name of the trash-hauling business was born. Eventually, he trademarked the name.
Student Haulers does, in fact, employ WMU students but Galovan never found time to go to college, once his business took off. His partner at the time, did finish at WMU but only helped on a few jobs. When they started, they had his partner’s truck and Galovan’s car to pick up trash.
Next, he rented a U-Haul and then bought his own truck. Now, he drives a custom-made, 25 cubic yard dump truck.
In the early days, Galovan charged $100 a load as he was trying to figure out his costs for recycling and disposing of the materials. They make every effort to find a proper home for the trash they pick up, as opposed to taking it to the landfill, he says.
The result is that many of his college student employees who start out the year with a bare apartment, end up constantly upgrading their possessions, Galovan says.
“I’ve got to watch them or they will keep everything,” he says. “We take most everything, even construction materials, as long as they are not hazardous or liquid.”
Even Galovan has found some things to keep.
“One treasure I found and kept was a Cub Cadet lawnmower,” he says. “I put it on ebay and a man from Iowa called to buy it. Turns out he was the proud curator of the Dumont Tractor Museum and was really excited to find this particular model to add to his collection.”
Galovan loves his job because he knows getting rid of trash makes people feel better.
“Folks are happy to be rid of it and I have a sense of accomplishment just by helping them get the junk out,” he says.
His employees also love their work because it’s not tedious, it’s outdoors, it’s physical and as long as the trash is out of the house, they can break anything, he says. Of the hundreds of students he has hired over the years, only one has quit and just three have called in sick.
Reflecting on his 17 years as owner of Student Haulers, he says, “I want to say I’ve seen it all but I’m continually amazed that people are so embarrassed about the trash lying around their house. My house is sometimes like that too, and I own the business!”
Ten years ago, Galovan and his wife, Alice, moved to south Portage, near Austin Lake. They have a five year old son who attends Tobey Elementary where Alice is active in the PTO. Both Galovans have joined the Vicksburg Lions Club as a part of their joint promise to give back to the community.
Their business serves families in the whole of Kalamazoo County and all of their employees are college students.
Village Trash Pickup Day
The Village of Vicksburg sponsors a free trash pick-up day, this year on May 24, using pretty much the same restrictions on what can be picked up. They don’t take plants and yard debris.