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Meet the Medway man who started a £250k rubbish removal firm in lockdown and once found a 24 inch Titanic model and an IPad Pro


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When the pandemic struck many self-employed workers saw their earnings dry up overnight and were forced to turn to new income streams to stay afloat.

But for one dad from Medway the rubbish situation provided the perfect opportunity to tap into a new trade and set up his own waste management company.

Daniel Kernahan was made redundant from his job at the beginning of the pandemic but now runs a company worth £250k a year. Photo: Kernahan Contractors
Daniel Kernahan was made redundant from his job at the beginning of the pandemic but now runs a company worth £250k a year. Photo: Kernahan Contractors

Daniel Kernahan, who lives in Chatham, was made redundant from his job as a site contractor at the beginning of April 2020.

"The lockdown hit and all my jobs went overnight," said the 32-year-old waste worker. "They closed the sites seen as non-essential and that was my bread and butter."

"In the building game everyone is pretty much self-employed and I was not entitled to anything."

The dad-of-one, who initially trained as an electrician before delving into several machinery-related roles, knew he had to do something to bring in an income.

But while he had savings in place he did not initially have a plan to support his young family in the long term.

Daniel Kernahan invested in vehicles to help grow his rubbish removal firm
Daniel Kernahan invested in vehicles to help grow his rubbish removal firm

"I sat at home for a week or so and didn't know what to do with myself," he said. "My dad said I should get into waste management but I didn't know anything about it."

Daniel received a "crash course", supplemented his learning online and set up the company's Google page overnight.

He then applied for a waste carrier licence and obtained the necessary liability insurances to ensure his operation, based on the Medway City Estate, was all above board.

When it came to getting the word out the director took the unusual step of learning hours of coding to set up a website he could promote through social media and avoid costly web developer fees.

"I set out building a website where customers could booking the rubbish collections online, choosing a date and time at their convenience," he said.

"The website generated £114,000 in the first 12 months, and the first sale was made within 30 minutes of launch."

Daniel Kernahan invested in vehicles to help grow his rubbish removal firm
Daniel Kernahan invested in vehicles to help grow his rubbish removal firm

His core business is household clearances which it conducts from £55 up to £380, dependant on the cubic yard of waste collected, in addition to furniture and appliance collection and skip hire services.

The service is available throughout Kent and large parts of London and has recently secured contracts with multiple businesses.

It has also worked with Medway Council and the Citizens Advice Bureau, among other public sector clients.

The company director said: "We grew from one van to four within a year and also bought a skip lorry to start targeting a broader audience.

"Two of the vans are made to order, being Euro 6 emissions standards they allow us to service customers in London, and we also have another three on order due in September to accommodate growth."

A key part of the waste removal work is segregation, adds Daniel, which allows his workers to correctly sort the rubbish collected.

"One of the best finds was a model of the Titanic whose approx length was 24 inches with a height of eight inches."

The process is essential for good recycling and something the dad-of-one prides himself on and has even pledged to plant five trees for every ton of waste recycled.

It's also thrown up some unusual finds which have included a brand new sealed iPad Pro and an iPhone 12.

"We have also found variety of old phones and electricals including Xbox 360s, Xbox One and a Playstation 4," he added.

"One of the best finds was a model of the Titanic whose approx length was 24 inches with a height of eight inches.

"We’ve also found a brand new Marco mix instant hot water tap, which had a value of £2800, also I have kept in the office a collection of classic car magazines from 1988-1990 in mint condition."

The company now generates £250,000 a year and has completed more than 7500 jobs.

In the future Daniel hopes to take the business to new heights and is eyeing up more vehicles and a larger work station.

He's also set up a YouTube channel where he plans to document the company's journey and share useful tips for customers.

"If I was talking to you two years ago I would not have thought I would be where I was now," he added.

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