Happy Cans

Ted Jennings of Gilbert and his Happy Cans business deploy high-pressured hot water to clean garbage cans. (Special to GSN)

Ted Jennings provides one of those services you don’t necessarily think people want, but the Gilbert man says you’d be surprised.

Jennings cleans garbage cans.

And his business, Happy Cans, is thriving, according to the father of five.

“I have found that people care more than you would think,” he said. “Those who are reluctant to try us – but then eventually do try us out – can’t believe what a difference it makes. In our hot summers trash cans really smell awful, which makes throwing out the garbage or taking the cans to the street for trash pick-up a very unpleasant experience, to say the least.”

That’s where Happy Cans comes to the rescue.

“After we have cleaned them and sprayed the deodorizer in them, people don’t have to worry about the odor.”

Moreover, he noted, “Trash can cleaning also reduces pests such as flies, maggots, cockroaches, mice, and rats around the house. So, it’s part of total pest control management for a homeowner. Our cleaning process even kills bacteria and viruses.”

Happy Cans arose from the disruptions that the pandemic created in its early months for Jennings’ normal job – selling medical devices for 14 of the 19 years the Southern California native has lived in Gilbert.

He had been an Independent sales rep selling customized surgical instrument trays to help protect expensive and delicate surgical instruments from being damaged during the sterilization process.

When COVID first made the scene in March 2020, hospitals restricted access to visitors – including sales people who sold all but the most essential kinds of equipment.

“Since my product was not of an urgent nature,” Jennings said, “I was not able to go into hospitals to work with my contacts in the Sterile Processing Department to customize instrument trays for the instrument sets they wanted protected. As a result, my sales pipeline decreased quickly over a few months.”

Then the other longer last impact of the pandemic hit hospitals – and Jennings pocketbook.

As hospitals lost more money from canceling elective surgeries, “they didn’t have the money in their budgets to invest in our products and therefore my sales opportunities diminished,” he said.

Meanwhile, in May 2020, Jennings began encouraging one of his sons to clean trash cans in the neighborhood during the summer to make a little money.

And while helping him get his little business off the ground, Jennings was trying to figure out a way to make some extra money since opportunities for pitching his medical devices to hospitals had become more limited.

As the pandemic-restrictions dragged on, Jennings decided he could clean garbage cans, too.

“I started cleaning trashcans separately from my son but with the small pressure washer I had bought for him to get him started. As I started talking to customers, I realized that this was a service that people wanted but didn’t know how to get.

“I started researching the trash can cleaning business and found that there were a few people providing this service in the U.S. but that it was in the growth phase,” he continued. “ So I found some inexpensive, used trash can cleaning equipment and with the help of my neighbor, modified it so that it would clean better. I have since upgraded to the most modern equipment available for trash can cleaning.”

Jennings developed his business out of whole cloth; it is no franchise.

“My son had the idea for our logo and most things I have done with the business have been through a little research and a lot of trial and error,” he explained.

Jennings cleans cans “with very high pressure at a high temperature.”

“The water pressure is set to 2700 PSI and at a temperature of 230 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to kill these microorganisms,” he said. “Then we spray a deodorizer and disinfectant in the trash can to complete the process. We collect all the nasty water in our catch basin and then at the end of the day, we dump it in a permitted dump station so no dirty water is left on the street or goes down the gutter.”

Between word of mouth, social media and other marketing efforts, Jennings said, “My trash can cleaning business continues to grow every month” – so much so he’s not thinking about going back to medical devices.

Jennings’ service casts a wide net, as he visits homes in Gilbert, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, and Ahwatukee. New customers also get $10 off their first cleaning to boot.

For more information: HappyCansAZ.com