Getting to Know Your Westwood Neighbor: Youth-Run Junk Teens is Built on a Foundation of Family


Photo courtesy of Junk Teens. Brothers Kirk McKinney, Jr. and Jacob McKinney stand atop their two dump trucks in front of Junk Teens' new warehouse office. They hold a Junk Teens banner.

With a mix of family, focus, and fun, Kirk McKinney, Jr. and his brother, Jacob McKinney, are turning Junk Teens, the junk removal business that they founded as teenagers living in Westwood two-and-a-half years ago, into an established local business.

After the first years of acting as both owners and staff for the business, in the past year, with Kirk as a student at Babson College and Jacob as a student at Westwood High School, Junk Teens has experienced some big transitions. It has brought on its first hires – all teens in high school or their first years of college. In June this year, Junk Teens has finished repurposing a warehouse in Norwood that serves as rented office space, and a place for the new employees to gather. It has purchased its second dump truck, allowing it to handle larger jobs and more tasks with the greater number of hands on deck.

Photo courtesy of Junk Teens. Jacob McKinney sits, and Kirk McKinney, Jr. stands by their first truck used in their junk removal business in February 2021.

There is a clear focus and relentless dedication to his business that is evident in Kirk. It is possibly a family trait. Kirk’s parents are owners of Westwood-based McKinney Brothers Tree Services, and Kirk credits his parents for helping him develop his entrepreneurial skills.

At an early age, Kirk would go into work with his father. His responsibilities grew as he also grew, and gave him a valuable window into running a business which may not be available to teens who are working the typical first job in a grocery store.

Now, as owner of his own company, Kirk knows he can ask his parents for advice when questions come up.

“From the start, my brother and I knew how to remove junk and get paid for it. But we didn’t know what to do with that money. My mom has been here, helping us, showing us how to work with the banks, how to work with insurance. . . any of the [ ] bigger parts of a business that you need to be legit,” says Kirk.

The brothers work together as equals at Junk Teens. Jacob runs the day-to-day operations, responding to customers and scheduling the work. Kirk handles the creative side, is “all over the place,” and fulfills random responsibilities that pop up.

The brotherly partnership is complementary, says Kirk. “It’s a really good combination because of how we both are as people,” he says. Jacob thrives on routine and structure, so running the operational side is a good fit, he notes. Meanwhile, Kirk’s tasks at Junk Teens take advantage of his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. “My ADHD allows me to quickly switch my focus intensely from one thing to another, all day long. Since that’s kind of what I do in the business, that works really well," he says.

Photo courtesy of Junk Teens. Junk Teens adds fun and personal connection to the business agenda with regular meetings at a local eatery.

Indeed, while Kirk maintains a devotion to growing Junk Teens, he also juggles responsibilities as a rising college sophomore at Babson. He’s learned to delegate, however, to make it all work.

To attract employees, Kirk had the idea of embracing a fun work culture at Junk Teens. He is cultivating an atmosphere where employees don’t just work, but where friends connect on a deeper level. Along with the entertainment that staff share in the task of destroying junk, they regularly meet at a local eatery on Fridays. In Junk Teens' repurposed, new, Norwood warehouse office space, Kirk has included a “Sky Lounge.” Here, employees of Junk Teens can enjoy some food and drink while they review the day’s schedule in the morning. After work is done and on weekends, Sky Lounge becomes a place to hang out and play pinball.

Photo courtesy of Junk Teens. The McKinney brothers hired a student artist from Babson College, where Kirk goes to school, to paint a mural in Junk Teens' warehouse office.

Junk Teens represents the second generation of entrepreneurial McKinneys that is making a mark on the landscape of locally owned businesses. The success of this new, creative, youth-led company appears clearly tied to a strong foundation in family.

Kirk admits that owning the business with a sibling can be challenging. “You’re managing a family aspect, but at the same time, there’s a transaction and it’s like business,” says Kirk. 

On the overwhelmingly positive side, however, he notes, “In some ways it’s easier to work with my brother because it’s someone who I fully trust, and I know no-matter-what is always going to be there.” Any decision for the good of the company is a decision that is for the good of both brothers, says Kirk.

Photo courtesy of Junk Teens. The second generation of entrepreneur McKinney brothers share an affectionate embrace.

“I feel like my brother and I are one thing. I don’t look at it like, ‘He’s this half of the business and I’m this half.’ We’re both the same thing. So, if I’m doing something, I’m basically doing it for me and for him. . . I feel that as we get older, it gets easier to figure out how to work with each other,” he observes.

“I’ve seen everything that my parents had done, and what they have, and I know you can’t just be successful by doing a little amount of work,” says Kirk. “You have to really put everything into it, if you really want to get ahead,” he says.

Thanks to Kirk McKinney, Jr. for being interviewed for this Westwood Minute article.

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Photo courtesy of Junk Teens. One of Kirk McKinney, Jr.'s favorite finds in his junk removal business is pirates' treasure - a silver doubloon.
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