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Got Junk? Ottawa Goaltender Cam Dunkerley Wants It

Cameron Dunkerley was just trying to offset the rising cost of gas for his new truck. He didn’t intend to start a successful business – it just happened.

In addition to his goaltending duties for the Ottawa Black Bears, Dunkerley is the owner of Dunk Disposal, a waste management and junk removal company located in Orangeville.

When I spoke with Dunkerley last week, he revealed that the company is in the middle of moving to an expanded office. Since the business has been so successful lately, they need more room for storage.

“During Covid, junk removal really took off as an industry,” Dunkerley explained. “There were lots of people making content online about it and saying ‘It’s such an easy business model, pretty low overhead to get started.’ So competition has kind of increased a little bit.”

But Dunk Disposal has been thriving even with increased competition. Dunkerley manages 12 employees, a fleet of three trucks, and will drive all over Ontario for jobs.

He said it’s because of the company’s commitment to their clients as well as their commitment to their employees.

“Our staff are the best out there. They’re super passionate about what they do. They get treated well, and we have a great culture. I take care of my employees and my employees take care of my customers. They know, every single time, we’re going to have a smiling crew there at the house getting the job done properly.

“And then, reliability and affordability as well. So we can beat the newer guys by being super reliable. If we say we’re going to be there, we’re going to be there. We can beat the bigger franchises because we don’t have all the extra franchise fees so we’re able to stay a little bit more affordable than them.”

Dunkerley began the company as a one-off delivery service in his senior year of high school.

“I had a pickup truck and it cost me a lot of money in gas between driving to lacrosse practice and driving to school,” he said. “So I started posting here and there on Kijiji and Facebook, just for little pickups and just to make enough money to pay for gas. I didn’t really plan on actually starting a business necessarily. But then, I found [there was] a need [for it] and then I started actually doing it. Gradually we got a trailer, got a couple more trucks. I started needing help, so I hired some employees. My brother and my dad were a huge help at the beginning, along with some other lacrosse players that I played with.”

Dunk Disposal still counts former teammates of Dunkerley’s among its staff, including former and current NLLers.

Dunkerley had no formal training, he just learned by doing, he said.

“I just started doing it, started taking jobs, started advertising, started dealing with customers and doing sales, and just did it. And as I went, I just learned, made a lot of mistakes, and just kept going from there.”

One of those learning processes was in choosing a name. It seems like a given that the name could have been Dunk’s Junk, just for how easily the rhyme rolls off the tongue. But although that name didn’t make the cut, it is part of their slogan: “Have junk? Call Dunk!”

“The original name was actually Dunk Delivery because when I first started, I didn’t know what I was doing,” Dunkerley admitted. “I thought we were going to be doing deliveries and moving and that kind of thing. And then, I found that the need wasn’t as much for that and it was more for people that needed stuff taken away. So the name was actually Dunk Delivery for a little while, but we quickly we changed into Dunk Delivery and Disposal… and then we scrapped the Delivery and just went with Dunk Disposal.”

And Dunkerley said he’s disposed of almost everything you could name.

“Everything from a single couch to a 25-truckload house cleanout. We’ve had a lot of crazy jobs!” he laughed. “One that we recently did was a 24-foot boat that had been dumped in a commercial building parking lot. So there was a boat that had been tipped and just dumped in a parking lot, and we had to get that out of there. We do a lot of hoarder cleanouts, so a lot of houses that are 20, 25 truckloads to empty. And then bigger, cool, deconstruction projects: we’ve taken down some barns and big truck trailers.”

Dunkerley said that of the more interesting things he’s hauled away, old war antiques top the list. Jewellery, sporting goods and coin collections are common. The most useful thing was a trailer that they were able to put back on the road and utilize in future jobs.

If things can be donated or refurbished instead of being taken to the dump, Dunkerley said that’s preferred.

“We always do our best to sort, recycle, and donate everything,” he emphasized. “Anything that we can sort and donate, we do that. Anything that can be refurbished or put into somebody else’s hands, absolutely. And then, the same with recycling. We do a lot of recycling, have a lot of new programs that we are beginning. We’re moving to a shop that has a lot more area in it, which will allow us to sort and store a lot more stuff. So that’s one of the biggest reasons, so we can increase and improve our recycling game.”

People want to know that their items are being taken care of, especially in estate cleanouts, when emotions are high after a loved one has passed. Dunkerley takes the responsibility of handling those items with care and respect. It’s not just junk removal – the service has a humanitarian element to it, and his employees like that aspect of the job.

“It’s a huge stress relief for a lot of people. So just kind of seeing that satisfaction, that definitely motivates the guys. They’re very compassionate people,” he said. “[When a family member passes], there are things that you have to deal with that you’ve never thought about that just got thrown on your plate. Cleaning out a house or getting rid of a storage unit that you didn’t even know your mom had before she passed, that’s not something you want to be dealing with. So they can just say, ‘Hey, we need this gone. Please take care of it.’ And that’s all they need to do, and then we take care of the rest.

“We always take the approach of understanding that when we’re removing stuff, it may just be junk and garbage to us, but people might have attachments to it. It could have been, for example, a piano that their great-grandfather came across from Germany, and it’s been in the family for three, four generations, but now they just need to get rid of it. To us, it’s just a piano. We do one of those every single day. But we make sure that every job we’re going into, we’re understanding that there could be a history behind it, so we need to take extra care.”

HAMILTON, ON – December 30th, 2023 – NLL regular season game action between the New York Riptide and the Toronto Rock on Saturday, December 30th, 2023 at the FirstOntario Centre in Hamilton, Ontario.
(Christian Bender/NLL)

Dunkerley is only 23 years old and already shoulders a lot of responsibility, between running his company and holding down the starting goaltender position in Ottawa – not to mention that he’s splitting his time this summer between the business and playing goal for the WLA’s Victoria Shamrocks out on Vancouver Island – clear across the country! It would be a lot for anyone, but he can draw on his lacrosse experience to keep him grounded.

“You know what? If I sit here and think about it being overwhelming, it definitely can become overwhelming. But I try to do my best to manage my time as well as possible. I devote time where it needs to be devoted, whether it’s training staff, doing jobs, training for lacrosse, whatever it’s going to be,” he mused. “I definitely have a super packed schedule, but I make sure that I’m not wasting time, and every minute that I have, it’s going towards something that’s going to either better myself or the company.

“And I don’t worry about the overwhelming stuff. I think that has a huge tie-over to what I’ve learned from playing lacrosse. Obviously, as a goalie there’s a lot of stress on the shoulders. So rather than getting worked up when a goal goes in, you just kind of focus on the next one. So that’s kind of the same thing in business. I just think about what’s next and not all the stress and weight that’s on my shoulders.”

The Shamrocks are currently leading the WLA with a 5-0 record. Dunkerley, who also played for the Jr. A Shamrocks, is sharing the net with Christopher Origlieri. Other NLLers on the team include Jesse and Marshal King, Patrick Dodds, Mathieu Gautier, Chris Wardle, Max Wilson, Clarke Petterson and Brad McCulley.

Dunkerley is enjoying his summer, but also looking forward to getting started in Ottawa when the 2024-25 NLL season rolls around.

“I think there’s no better group of people to be going out [to Ottawa], because we have some big names on our team and because so many of them are from Ontario,” he said. “Almost our entire team is actually from Ontario, so I think we’re going to get a ton of local support. And especially the way that the game’s been growing in Ottawa, I think that they deserve the team, and the fan base is definitely going to get what they’re looking for.”