News & Culture

Maria Cruz: First Year With 505-Junk

[main-title]My 505-Junk Story[/main-title]

My first year at 505-JUNK was the first year I entered the “real world”… at least that’s what the dean at my university grad ceremony called it. Prior to working at 505, I was a server at 2 bars in Richmond (it was fun telling drunk patrons on a Saturday night that I had just completed my B.Sc.), but eventually, the hours got too long and my tip money was being stretched thin from visits to the dental office. My search for a stable 9-5 began.

My goal was to find a work environment that wasn’t a drag to stay at for 8 hours on end and with lots of opportunity for growth. Attending school for most of my life, my worst fear was to spend my youth stagnant at a dead-end job, only to reminisce about the days when showing up to lecture was a choice rather than a commitment.

My Background

In a nutshell, my experience at UBC was extremely rewarding. I was in a small, competitive program where organic chemistry was a prerequisite yet allowed me to credit sociology and French as electives. I was in a sorority (go Gamma Phi Beta!) and was elected as the VP of Finance in my senior year.

Despite my capability to work in a dynamic environment, I’m surprised I kept up with the speed 505-JUNK was growing at. Hired as an Administrative Assistant yet having no background in administration whatsoever, I mastered the job much prior to the end of my probationary period. In 4 months, I was promoted as a Sales Centre Representative and moved to the Head Office. I managed the majority of the incoming calls and kept on top of administrative tasks while learning CRM software.

However, there were times when I was overwhelmed. I remember crying by the end of my shift one time because I couldn’t close a client. In a separate instance, I would come into the office stressed out of my mind because a stack of paperwork was piled up and I couldn’t tackle it during my 8-hour shift.

My Experience Working With 505-Junk

The biggest thing I learned was to communicate when I needed help. Just recently a student in a competitive program and serving as a leader amongst my peers, I think I had too much pride: I felt I was capable of figuring things out on my own. I probably had to have the sit-down with both Scott and Barry several times before it was drilled in that they are available to help me. This later translated to being a better communicator in all aspects, including my relationships with my family and friends, who definitely noticed a positive change.

In high school, I was constantly praised by my English teacher for my writing skills but in university, I was complimented only once when I questioned the B+ on my first essay during office hours. I was no more than 2 months into my new job when Barry assigned that I write a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the sales centre. He was more confident in my writing capabilities than I was, solely based on the cover letter I submitted. That confidence boost influenced my willingness to write nomination packages for business awards. Our biggest achievement to date was in May when 505-JUNK won the Better Business Bureau 2016 Torch Award for Innovative Business Practices in the small business category.

During Barry’s acceptance speech he credited my work, catching the attention of a judge. He went up to me and said that the nomination package was filled out perfectly. He wasn’t given judging criteria until some time after the nomination packages were received. The finalists were interchanging, he said, but 505-JUNK always remained in 1st place because of the presentation of what I laid out in writing. I initially wasn’t impressed with Barry calling me out as I was immediately approached by a few businessmen to negotiate some kind of writing deal, but the judge’s comments were definitely worth the minutes of embarrassment and awkward conversation.

I never once doubted where 505-JUNK can take me; although, I can understand the critics. The Vancouver junk removal industry as a whole is pretty grimey. Over the last year, I’ve received countless phone calls from clients feeling “ripped off” by using our competitors because of their business model. What I appreciate about this position in sales is that I am representing a product that sells itself and that the value is seen by all our clients.

Furthermore, the company is made up of some of the most inspiring, young individuals who exude our core values to clients, suppliers, and anyone else who’s seen our bright green trucks on the road. I’m the youngest person working in the head office and the only female in the company, but not once in the last year was I intimidated to speak my mind or felt underestimated due to any variable. I am continuously encouraged by my colleagues as we utilize our strengths for the benefit of the company and work as a team to compensate for any weaknesses.

My Future With 505-Junk

Although I’ve only been a part of the 505 team for one year out of its five years of operation, I feel like I’ve accomplished and witnessed so much already. The other day I realized that not too long ago, only three of us working in the office was routine. It’s apparent now that with Alex sitting adjacent to me, we’ll be needing more and more support. When I first started one year ago, I believe we were just transitioning from a start-up: operating very lean, managing multiple phone calls at once, and running two trucks part-time. Now that we’ve doubled in size with a fourth truck on its way, and consistently breaking monthly sales records, I’m proud to say that I work for a small, growing business.

As we grow, I’ll always be thankful for the company’s humble beginnings as it has shaped my career. I recently made a commitment to give back to the community by becoming a member of a local non-profit, Richmond Addiction Services Society. In October, I will be formally inducted on the Board of Directors, where my goal is to demonstrate and build on the skills I’ve acquired over the last year to impact others on a large scale. I honestly don’t think I could have obtained this level of self-accomplishment in the same time frame working at any ordinary 9-5 job. I’m extremely proud of what I’ve achieved and I look forward to writing another 505-JUNK blog post in a year’s time.

Maria Cruz
Sales Centre Representative