ST. ALBANS –– St. Albans natives Mitch Durfee, a war veteran, and Matt Swann, a St. Albans City fireman, have been friends since high school.
Last year, they realized they had the same business goals: to provide a much-needed service in northwestern Vermont, and offer much-needed work for local veterans and first responders. However, they already had separate, similar businesses underway.
Matt and Ron Denison, also a St. Albans City firefighter, had been providing handyman, carpentry, and cleaning services under the business name 1st Response Contractors since last December.
Meanwhile, Mitch was about five years into founding Grunts Move Junk, a business he started to help home and business owners recycle and reuse their unwanted items, and provide employment opportunities for fellow veterans.
In January, Matt and Ron joined forces with Mitch to re-launch Grunts Move Junk.
Currently, Grunts Move Junk is available to help homeowners and businesses with junk removal, moving services, general construction and cleaning projects. Grunts Move Junk calls St. Albans “home,” but it is a mobile business that serves Franklin and Chittenden counties.
Mitch, Matt and Ron said Grunts Move Junk separates itself from its competitors by branding itself with the “professionalism, punctuality and respect that is associated with veterans, firefighters and first responders.” They believe in the phrase “people, planet, profit.”
“Obviously, you don’t do firefighting for the pay,” Ron said. “You do it because you love it.”
Mitch said his greatest satisfaction from Grunts Move Junk is “seeing veterans, firefighters and first responders have steady employment and be able to support their growing families without having to go overseas or run inside a burning building.
“However, many of the team members are still serving as firefighters, National Guard members and reservists because of the passion they have for helping their community.”
Mitch joined the U.S. Army straight out of high school and served in Korea, Iraq, Colorado Springs and Vermont from 2003-08. From 2012-13, he served in Kuwait and Afghanistan as a government contractor.
After graduating from BFA-St. Albans in 2004, Matt worked in and out of the construction field. He also had a Class B Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) for 10 years.
Originally from Maine, Ron studied mechanical engineering after high school, worked in the field, and then worked as a law enforcement officer in Maine for six years; he moved to St. Albans about 20 months ago and comes from a long line of firemen.
Ron also worked owned his own business in Maine, in which he specialized in finished carpentry, flooring and kitchens. (An interesting aside: He worked on Stephen King’s property.)
As they press on with Grunts Move Junk, Mitch, Matt and Ron want to add landscaping, towing, plowing, painting, and other work to their list of offerings.
“The idea is to be able to match service members with their skill sets and be able to offer that service to the community, under the Grunts Move Junk name,” Matt said. “That’s what we’re trying to bring to the table, here.”