WATCH NOW: Two military veterans from Siouxland launch new trash cleaning business | Siouxland Company
JEFFERSON, SD — After throwing a 4th of July party at his home in Jefferson, Jeffrey Demers became frustrated with the horrific order issued by his trash cans. He tried everything to clean them, even bleach, but nothing seemed to get rid of the smell.
“I wasn’t that happy and was a bit upset that I killed my weed,” Demers recalled of using the bleach mixture.
Urged by his wife to get the bins, Demers called on his neighbour, Dirk Richou.
“I said I was going to help, pulled out the pressure washer, and it literally took us three hours to scrub them, clean them, and get all the shit out of them,” Richou recalled.
From this labor-intensive and smelly ordeal, the two friends and military veterans envisioned a new business venture.
Last September, Demers, 34, and Richou, 50, launched Filthy Bin, a growing trash can cleaning service with customers in the tri-state area.
After some research, Demers and Richou found that professional trash cleaning services are a profitable business in some parts of the country, especially in the hot and humid South. They contacted a dumpster cleaning service operator in Lincoln, Nebraska, and learned the trade from him.
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Filthy Bin operates out of a custom cargo truck that operates much like a giant mobile washing machine or dishwasher. Richou and Demers drove all the way to Salt Lake City to buy the truck over Labor Day weekend.
“I spent 23 hours driving this thing, between Jeffrey and me,” Richou recalled.
The environmentally friendly service has quickly gained popularity. In their initial social media post, Demers and Richou said they would sign no more than 10 clients while working on the startup.
Thirty-six people showed interest and took them all on as customers, spending the next few days familiarizing themselves with the equipment and cleaning the bins during their off hours. Richou works for Gelita in Sergeant Bluff and Demers works for MidAmerican Energy.
“It took off like wildfire, with minimal effort,” said Richou, who described Filthy Bin as “a second full-time job.”
“We had goals that we set for ourselves, and we pretty much quadrupled our goals,” Demers said.
The company offers to clean the garbage cans on a monthly, fortnightly, quarterly, ad hoc or seasonal basis. Pricing starts at $15.95 per month for the first bin and $8 for each additional bin.
Today they have customers as far away as Le Mars, Iowa, and have received inquiries from potential customers in Vermillion, SD, although at present this is not in their service area.
On collection days, the Filthy Bin truck follows the routes of garbage haulers, stopping at their customers’ homes to power wash the outside and inside of the cans, using a high pressure washer. pressure that blasts cans with water at 200 degrees. The process allegedly kills 99.9% of all bacteria and odors. And everything is done at the curb.
“It sanitizes, deodorizes and disinfects, at 200 degrees,” Demers said.
Veteran owned and operated
Richou and Demers are proud to be a veteran-owned business. Demers served in the Air Force between 2006 and 2018. Richou served in the Army between 1989 and 1994. Both were deployed overseas. Richou was stationed in Italy for a few years and served in Desert Storm during the Gulf War, while Demers was sent to the United Arab Emirates.
Serving in the armed forces, Demers said, was good preparation for their new venture, giving them training in cleanliness and organization.
“The military are generally cleaner people, we’re always disciplined. Things have to be kept clean in the military,” Demers said.
Both donate a portion of their profits to area veteran organizations, including Midwest Honor Flight (which flies veterans to Washington, D.C. to view veterans’ memorials and monuments) and Contact Front (an organization nonprofit that helps veterans with PTSD). They also offered their services at Siouxland Freedom Park in South Sioux City.
“We both wanted to own and operate a veteran owned and operated business,” Demers said. “We have a mission – as a company our goal is obviously to make money – but we have a mission, being military that we are both veterans, we have a goal of giving back to our veterans organizations throughout Siouxland.”
“It’s kind of our personal mission in our personal lives as well,” Richou said.