Chad Beery is owner of redbox+. No, he doesn’t rent movies. Despite the similarity in name to the DVD movie rental company, his business couldn’t be more different: providing dumpsters and portable toilets, in one, single bright and shiny “red box.” It is the only company offering combined units. That’s the “plus” in the name.
His customers typically are commercial and residential roofers, remodelers, and restoration companies repairing homes or businesses after a fire or other disaster.
“A lot of our customers previously had separate portable toilets and dumpsters on their worksite,” he said. “The redbox+ combined unit looks better on a job site, and it helps crews be more productive. For example, a worker wanting to use the restroom doesn’t have to leave the site.” His company also offers traditional dumpsters without toilets.
This may seem like an unusual career for a man whose college degree is in technical communication and who spent 20 years with IBM as a technical writer and leader of teams producing understandable technical documents for products. A favorite project at IBM was work on IBM Watson, an artificial intelligence computer program made famous when Watson beat two of the most successful contestants on the game show Jeopardy! in 2011.
For the last 15 years at IBM, Beery worked entirely from home. Team members were located in such faraway places as India, Australia, and China. They kept in touch through screen-sharing, phone calls, instant messaging, and videoconferencing.
“I went for 8 ½ years without seeing a co-worker in person,” said Beery.
Recently IBM started bringing teams back together in traditional offices. Beery was told he would have to relocate – most likely to Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Our kids were in 11th, 9th and 7th grade. There’s no way we were going to uproot them and move them out of state to a job I may – or may not – have, he said, noting he had been through and survived 28 layoffs.
“We started looking at other choices. Plus, I was getting tired sitting in front of computer monitors 60 hours a week. There had to be something different,” he said.
And “different” is what he found. He and wife Amy did a lot of research. A franchise broker introduced them to redbox+.
“Our first thought was DVD movies,” said Beery. “When we better understood what the business actually was, Amy and I laughed at first. Then we really started thinking about it. It was a unique concept and made sense. It’s a need that’s always there.”
So, they committed to a redbox+ franchise for the Dane County area. They got equipment three months ago which, between jobs, is stored on land leased from Carl F. Statz & Sons.
“I’m the one who drives the truck and shows up with the dumpsters on site. I’m also the one to clean the toilets,” Beery laughed. He also handles marketing. Amy also is a “critical component” of the business, said Beery, noting she helps out with back office work, and all other parts of the business.
This is in addition to her work at the Waunakee School District, where Amy is an educational aide. Previously she was a 7th grade science teacher in inner city Milwaukee.
Their family includes Kirsten, 14; AJ, 16; and Alyssa, 18. Beery proudly notes that in the past the family has puppy-sat for service dogs-in-training through Wisconsin Academy for Graduate Service Dogs (WAGS). Golden retrievers, black labs and other dogs would visit while trainers were out of town.
“Our job was just to play with them. We were told to treat each dog like it’s on vacation,” he said.
Beery, 44, loves where they have lived in the Meadowbrook subdivision since 2011. They’re at the edge of town, and he enjoys bicycling in the country, noting, “I love the lonely roads without cars.”
He really enjoys winter sports, especially skiing and snowboarding.
“I have been snowboarding for 32 years,” he noted proudly. His auto license reads “WANASKI.”
Beery was raised in Minneapolis and attributes his strong work ethic to his parents. “It was a really good environment to grow up in,” he said.
In the future, he said it’s possible they might acquire additional redbox+ franchise territories and operate them semi-absentee. In the short term, they hope next year to add another truck, additional containers and other employees to expand the current business.