Story by JODI ANDERSON • Photo by LISA ANDERSON
Growing up in The Bronx, New York, Tuckson Garnes never dreamed he would one day be a business owner. His neighborhood was comprised of dirty, gray buildings and pothole-riddled streets. But when he took the bus into Manhattan, the scenery changed to clean high rises and Rolls Royces on pristine roads. “I wanted to be that guy in the tailored suit with a briefcase and a phone.” He thought about his dad, who had been a computer programmer on Wall Street, until drugs overcame him, and he lost everything.
Tuckson’s mother also had her struggles with addiction, but she hung on to a job and her kids. He didn’t have the fancy Jordans, but “no matter what, I still had school clothes every year. I never had to worry about eating. I did have a good childhood.” Every year, his family would travel to Florida to visit his mother’s relatives in Jacksonville, and they would sometimes visit Disney World.
A Big Move
In 2006, Tuckson moved to Florida. He ended up in the Gainesville area, where he “got into trouble.” After two years of poor decisions and legal consequences, Tuckson decided to straighten up and find a job. He wandered into a Denny’s, where his now partner Laquay was a server. “She just attracted me in so many ways.” Tuckson was impressed by her coolness under pressure and the way that she stepped up and led when the restaurant got really busy.
Laquay already had two children when they met. Her son is now in college in Syracuse, New York, on a soccer scholarship. Her daughter, a toddler at the time, is in advanced classes at Howard Middle School. Ashton was born not long after they met. Tuckson was 22. He cites his son as a motivation to be successful, setting the example for him to be an entrepreneur—to call his own shots and be a success on his terms.
A New Start
Tuckson was tired of working long hours and began to look for another way to bring in money but be more available to his family. “I wanted to find a business or service that wasn’t so hard, so I could focus on building it.” He had a trailer and thought he might be able to make that into something. He started by helping people move, but the liability and fear of breaking other people’s things was too much.
Then, people started asking him to help them get rid of unwanted furniture. In 2018, he founded Q & Q Junk Removal. (The Q’s stand for “quality” and “quick.”) Despite having two degrees in business organization from the College of Central Florida, Tuckson admits, “I realized very quickly I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.”
The company provides both commercial and residential services by cleaning out vacated apartments, warehouses, homes, etc. They will also drop a dumpster for people who are cleaning out the home of a loved one or who are doing home renovation. Most of his customers are older, Tuckson explains, and he’s motivated by the desire to help people. The company’s ethos is working: It has dozens of five-star reviews. He doesn’t have to do much advertising, either. “Seventy-five percent of my business comes from word-of-mouth.”
Looking Towards the Future
Even though he has more competition than when he started, Tuckson is confident in the direction his business is growing. He has a five- to ten-year plan to get it to the point where it can sustain itself. He may even want to franchise it. He says that his business has taught him to slow down and say no when he has to. He had to “learn my own self-value.” He has a clear eye on the future. “I don’t want to stress super hard. I want to be able to travel in my forties; I realize it’s not that far away. I would like to be able to travel the world.”
Tuckson holds his mother up as his role model. She taught him to go after what he wanted in life, to get up when he didn’t want to, and to work hard. “No matter what you’re going through, there’s no excuse not to live the life you want to. You just gotta go out there and do it.”