Business Beat: A Family Affair

Shaun H. Ruff

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Local Father and Daughter Team Up to Start Trash Bin Cleaning Service

By Norb Garrett

How many high school seniors do you know who, upon graduating high school, decide to start up a new business with their fathers? We’re not talking about taking over the family business, we’re talking about building a new business from scratch.

Well, that’s exactly what Reese Zebell, a 2021 San Clemente High School graduate, did. With a pandemic still raging last winter and the uncertainty of being able to attend college in person, Reese, who was working at Surfside Pizza in Shorecliffs, was open to ideas.

“(My dad) came up to me one day with an idea for a business we could start together,” recalled Reese, 18, who was born and raised in San Clemente after her parents moved here from Illinois 23 years ago. “I wanted to get my feet wet in the business world, so I figured, why not?”

The idea her dad pitched her was unique to Southern California.

“A client of mine was thinking about starting a trash bin cleaning service in Florida,” said David Zebell, Reese’s father, who works full-time as a contractor with AC&H Services. “Apparently, they’ve been doing it for a while in Europe, so I started researching it and, while it’s happening in all 50 states, there’s no one offering it here in the area. There are a couple in San Diego and one in L.A., but none here. So, it made me think we should do it here.”

The father-daughter team got to work building a business plan. Reese would do all of the marketing and branding work; David would do all of the physical trash can cleaning.

They placed an order for a customized truck built exactly for the job back in June. Built in Arizona by EWI Industries (one of three such builders in the U.S.), the truck contains its own water supply and spray jets at a cost of around $110,000.

“COVID really delayed the whole process,” said David, who had hoped to get the business off the ground in the summertime, but had to wait until November to pick up the truck and get the proper paperwork processed. “It would have been nice to have the summer to get started, but it’s all working out fine. We’ve had a really great response in the last month or so from our hometown of San Clemente.”

Reese and David already have had 59 clients—all residential—and, ultimately, want to have around 30 clients per month on a recurring basis. The cost to get trash bins cleaned is $45 for two bins quarterly, $70 for two bins every six months, and $80 for two bins annually. Extra bins are $15 per bin, up to five total.

“It works kind of like a gym membership,” said David, who notes that the truck uses biodegradable, environmentally friendly soap, and that the entire process occurs inside the truck thanks to custom spray heads and hydraulic lifts. “We capture all of the dirty water in a hopper. Nothing gets in the street.”

As business grows, so will the fleet of trucks, although there’s now an eight-month backlog on truck orders due to supply-chain issues caused by the pandemic. But for now, Reese and David are focused on making Beach City Bin Cleaners a household name in the San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano areas.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Reese. “People always come out to talk and say hello. It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’ll just work really hard.”

Beach City Bin Cleaners



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