10 to Watch 2016: Joma Environment

“We focus on the basics of human health through maintaining the quality of drinking water, our soil for growing food, our air for breathing and our natural environment for species habitat.”

Photograph by Joshua Lawrence.

The best entrepreneurs don’t just come up with great ideas, they serve needs. That’s exactly what two local startup owners did in 2015 when they launched a triple-bottom-line company specializing in handling the kind of waste few other people can or will deal with — hazardous waste.

“We discovered that when it comes to waste/recycling management systems, small- to medium-sized companies like big-box stores weren’t being serviced properly,” says Matt Perkins, who co-founded JOMA Environmental in 2015 with partner John Starchuk.

After conducting market research, Perkins and Starchuk carefully honed their services to waste management, contaminated-site remediation, emergency-spill response, hazardous-waste disposal and ecological reclamation.

They found increasingly strict environmental regulations had created market needs their company was uniquely qualified to fill, such as oil tank removal, fuel spills in marinas and the logistics of waste management in remote coastal communities.

“We try to fill a niche, not take work away from existing companies,” Starchuk says. “Instead, we’ll often share trucks, equipment and labour with other companies, providing services like landscaping after an oil tank removal. This increases efficiency for our business and allows us to offer a complete service for our clients.

“We create a full-service package tailored to the needs of each client. It’s a good growth market for us.”

Q&A with Matt Perkins and John Starchuk of JOMA Environmental

What was the best business advice you received?

Matt: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, diversify your services and your clients. In the beginning, we focused heavily on one project and it didn’t go through, which was a big setback.

What was your biggest startup challenge?

Matt: Learning how to raise funds and operate a business is a huge learning curve. We received a small business grant through VanCity. One of the requirements was to get a Small Business BC consultant to approve our business plan. He was invaluable in helping us create our marketing plan.

John: Establishing a work/life balance. Starting a business involves a roller coaster of emotion, along with associated stress and anxiety. It all comes down to establishing systems to help you keep track of all the details and make decisions.

JOMA Environmental Business Profile

Type of business: Hazardous-waste management and ecological restoration

Year founded: 2015

Owners/principals: Matt Perkins and John Starchuk

Employees: 0

This article is from the April/May 2016 issue of Douglas.