by Emma Marc-Aurele
Businessman and war veteran Mitch Durfee started a unique business called Grunts Move Junk in 2013 with high school best friend Matt Swann. Grunts Move Junk provides the city of Burlington, and now Worcester, MA, with different services such as junk removal, moving services, landscaping, snow removal, and general construction. Where they stand out from the rest of these other blue collar businesses is in their dedication to employing returning veterans young and old.
According to the guys at Grunts Move Junk, their mission is to build a solid foundation for transitioning service men and women into positions where they can continue to serve their communities and environment with a superior level of service while demonstrating the core values of leadership, integrity, honor, and respect.
Mitch Durfee, owner of Grunts Move Junk, is a St Albans native who spent most of his high school years playing sports- wrestling, track and field, and baseball. Like most Vermonters, he also spent a lot of time snowboarding in the winter and on the lake in the summer. Durfee strayed from the rest of his classmates, and joined the army right out of high school.
When asked why he made such a bold decision, Durfee replied, “I smile every time I get asked this question, it takes me back to when I was 16. I joined because my recruiter said I’d see the world; he was right! There are so many reasons for why I joined the service. One big thing that sticks out is September 11th 2001. I felt like I could make a difference.”
Mitch also has a lot family members who have served- his father and sister were in the Army and his uncles were in the Air Force and Navy.
“Their stories about their experiences were inspiring. Some of the things I thought I would get to do when I was in, I never had the chance to. On the other hand, there were things I never thought I would do and I’m grateful for.”
His courageous desire to serve the country is definitely in the Durfee blood. Mitch is a huge believer in putting the welfare of our country first, but he ultimately says, “What is a good reason to join the service? Because you want to! If you’re passionate about something, then do it! I find this is a great way to approach life.”
For teens contemplating the same choice he once made to join, he advises, “If you’re thinking about joining the service, have the conversation with your family and your recruiter, do some research and make sure it’s the right fit for you. Bottom line if you want to go in, you’re going to go! You’ll meet friends that you’ll have for the rest of your life and you’ll see places in the world you might otherwise never see!’
While in Afghanistan, Mitch contracted for a year. When the contract was up, he returned home to Vermont. So, why after years of service and hard work abroad would he decide to start such a labor intensive business? Mark says that upon his return to St Albans, he was unemployed for a couple months and decided to put his energy in going back to school. At the same time, he also decided to take classes to get his real estate license.
During this transition back to school he realized that there was a lot of last minute moving going on and also a lot of friends looking for work – this planted the seed for his Grunts Move Junk business.
He says, “I mixed the two together and realized that there were a lot of veterans, EMTs, firefighters that needed work. I sat down with Ron Denison at Mimmo’s pizza in St Albans and we talked about how we wanted to provide an opportunity for other service members to have a landing pad, Grunts Move Junk was the idea and two days later we were rolling it out full speed ahead.”
His advice to young entrepreneurs: Be confident in your business plans.
“Starting a business is tough, but don’t let it discourage you! I’d say take time to see the vision. Just like professional athletes do when they are getting ready to set a world record. You can watch them close their eyes and go through the movements and watch their body rock back and forth as they set up for the big moment. Do this same thing for your business, and be in the moment and picture your business succeeding and you’ll be unstoppable.”