SYCAMORE – Alex Broches, a 30-year-old Sycamore native, is the owner and founder of The Junk Removal Dudes – which he calls a cross between a garbage and moving service based out of Sycamore.
But his entrepreneurial spirit also contributed to crippling depression and health issues earlier in life.
Broches attended Sycamore High School and went on to earn a degree in geography from Northern Illinois University. He graduated in 2010 and had been cultivating a following for an online start-up called CollegeJunkee.
The site, a place for students to connect, was featured on MTV and garnered millions of page views.
“That site was a nightmare,” Broches said. “It just sucked my soul out.”
Broches said he lost all his money when the website failed, burying him in credit card debt plus late and overdraft fees.
After CollegeJunkee, Broches bounced from job to job. He delivered pizzas, helped his mom clean homes and tried to spark a few more online start-up companies. He also gained weight and began to struggle with mental health issues.
“I was a total mess,” Broches said. “A good friend died in a car accident; the NIU shooting kind of messed with me, too, for a while. It was a really rough time in my life.”
Broches said he even had thoughts of suicide until he had an epiphany. He told himself he had reached rock bottom and needed to lead a better, happier life.
The premise behind The Junk Removal Dudes arose from some of the customers Broches’ mother helped in 2016.
They wanted to clean house, but were unable to haul away their unwanted belongings – that’s when Broches entered the picture. He assisted one woman in DeKalb, who then recommended him to several of her friends.
“After the third or fourth one, I thought, ‘There might be some money in this,’ ” Broches said. “This is such a weird idea that kind of happened on accident.”
The “mixture of garbage man and mover” service charges based on how much room in a trailer the belongings take up, and the cost includes dumping and labor. Broches’ employees tackle anything from garages to barns and cover facilities within a roughly one-hour radius of Sycamore.
Broches’ favorite part of the job is discovering unique items, such as antique dolls or jars of pickles.
He said it’s rewarding to both enjoy his job and help others. He also wrote a book, “A Dark Path To Light,” to share his story.
“Now that I’m doing better mentally, physically … I felt I was obligated to help people who are in a dark place in their life,” Broches said. “If you’re in that situation, it’s not a permanent situation. I was able to get out of that, and I want other people to know they can too.”
Anyone interested in getting in touch with The Junk Removal Dudes can visit the company’s Facebook page or website, www.thejunkremovaldudes.com. Potential customers also can text or call 815-757-9696 for an estimate.