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Roger Panitch changed his life when he decided to go to work for himself and became a franchise owner of College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving. 

BY ROGER PANITCH / AJT //

“Absolutely,” I tell the client on the other end of the phone.

She’s panicked, and rightfully so. Her original mover left her high-and-dry on the morning she was supposed to move.

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It’s a practice that’s becoming all too commonplace in the moving industry. Companies bid a bunch of jobs for the same day and then only take the most profitable ones, leaving a lot of unsuspecting clients in a stressful, last-minute bind.

“We’ll take care of it all,” I tell her.

I hear a sigh of relief, guarded though it may be.

“I promise you, ma’am, it’s all going to work out just fine. You’ll see.”

It feels genuinely amazing to be able to say that to someone because I know exactly how she feels. A few years ago, I was in a similar situation.

It was 2004. I had just been promoted and was on my way up the ladder in a major pharmaceutical company. I was making good money, paying the bills, putting food on the table and, of course, taking it all for granted.

Naturally, though, what goes up must come down. By 2006, the economy was tanking, dragging me and a few thousand of my colleagues with it. We were “downsized.”

After the initial shock wore off, I felt bitter, to be honest. Who wouldn’t be miffed, though, to learn that after all the effort, sacrificing family time to work long hours well into the evenings, that you’re actually considered by the “higher-ups” to be expendable.

It was frustrating and, moreover, unnerving. The question on my mind was, “What am I supposed to do now?”

Fortunately, neither the resentment nor the panic lasted long, as I soon turned to an “even higher-up,” so to speak. My faith is something that has always guided me; has always been the compass at my core.

I’m not going to sermonize here, but my beliefs are what carry me through difficult times; it’s a big part of my life and who I am. My family and I are members of the Congregation B’nai Torah, which, along with the spiritual guidance, is a great place to bounce ideas off of like-minded friends with similar values and ideals.

So I was at my low point, but after a lot of discussion with my friends there, I came to a conclusion: It was time to be my own boss. I never again wanted to be at the mercy of a superior’s whims.

Moreover, I could no longer endure the irony of spending all my time working, trying to provide for the family that, as a result, I didn’t get to see nearly enough. My friends at the synagogue helped me to realize that it was possible to have both; I just needed to find the right opportunity.

After months of research, I chose the College Hunks Hauling Junk and College Hunks Moving franchise. The company jumped out at me for a number of reasons, not the least of which was their demonstrated commitment to helping out in the community.

For example: Instead of trying to save money by taking hauled items to the dump, the company donates or recycles more than 70 percent of everything we haul. Sure, the people getting rid of it see it only as “junk” – hence our name – but Hope House, Habitat for Humanity and other local organizations see each item as a chance to help struggling families. Thus, today I’m not only on my feet, but giving back to the community that gave to me.

Today, I’m able to coach my sons’ basketball teams at the Jewish Community Center – and College Hunks sponsors the teams! I play in the over-30 league myself and, while I’m no LeBron or Jordan, I have a blast. And what’s more, my company and Iparticipate in “Amy’s Holiday Party” – a nonprofit started as a bat mitzvah project – by delivering gifts to underprivileged kids during the holidays.

And so it happened that with the help of my friends, family and faith, I’ve found a way to mesh my career with my personal life. And really, that’s the point, isn’t it? To strike a balance and find happiness.

It took me some time to find that balance and to find the right company with the right culture. But if you’re willing to keep searching until you find the career that works for you and makes you happy, I can tell you firsthand that it’s well worth it.

For my part, I find that joy is in giving back to those around me, whether it’s volunteering in the community, working with nonprofits or just telling a client that it’s going to be OK – and making sure it is.

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