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Jack of All Trades

By Chad Light
Photo by Kate Gardiner

That unused china set; the bike your son just outgrew (still in perfect working condition); a set of lamps that just don’t work with your newly-decorated living room; the entire contents of your garage (including a vehicle that you’re growing tired of) — all these things that you don’t want to just drag to the curb, because you know that someone would pay good money for them, but you don’t want to go to the bother of listing them on Craigslist or Swip Swap or lugging them to a consignment shop. So what do you do with them?

17-year-old Jack Hayes came up with an ingenious answer: let him do it for you! He deals with all the hassle and you walk away with the cash. Sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not.

The idea for his business, Profit Jack, came to the entrepreneurial St. Augustine High School student last year when he was sitting in the outlet mall parking lot waiting to meet someone who wanted to buy something he had up for sale. He ended up getting the same amount from the buyer that he had paid for the item 2 years earlier. “I took that as a sign that I could really do this for people,” he explains. “While waiting for the buyer, I took a notecard and some fancy scissors, wrote ‘Profit Jack’ and my contact info…and the rest is history.”

The way his business works is simple: prospective sellers contact Hayes with items that they want to sell, and give him what they think is a fair price. He does his own research to come up with a price that is reasonable and, once the parties are in agreement, he posts the item on popular resale sites like Craigslist and Swip Swap. He fields the offers, communicates those to the seller, and then sets up a time and location for the sale to take place.

Profit Jack handles all the details of the transaction, keeping 20 to 25% for the business as commission. Profit Jack’s slogan, “Let ME Make YOU Money,” says it all. “The items that sit around taking up space could be a car payment, electrical bill, or even just a little extra spending money,” according to Hayes. He makes it easy to turn those items that sit around collecting dust into cold hard cash.

And he isn’t done yet. “I plan on expanding Profit Jack into a full-on services company. I recently launched a landscaping company with a good friend of mine, Blake McCutcheon (who is 18). It’s called Lawn Inc. Anything from mowing to pressure washing, Lawn Inc. can do it.” The friends launched the endeavor the middle of June and the response has been great.

“We’ve done close to 10 lawns and recently picked up a big project. Eventually the service will be handed over to Blake, and he can hire his own employees. I will find all the jobs, and again charge 20% commission for finding them. Other future services in the works are beach towing, investing, and car detailing. All of these services will have the same goal, me making others money. I find all the jobs, work out the details, and the people doing the jobs make 80% of the money.”

The ambitious young man, who enters his senior year this August, plans to study marketing, finance, and of course, business in college, then take that into law school. Currently he carries a 3.6 GPA, was president of his junior class last year, as well as the captain of the track and cross country team. He’s been to the State Track and Field Championships twice, and would like to continue running at the collegiate level. He plans on continuing Profit Jack after high school, too.

“It’s crazy to most people when I say this, but I would like to be able to have this after college as well…it’s been a fun ride. I’ve met some cool people and have been to able to do some pretty cool things. This business has taught me a lot, not only to be persistent and to go after what I want, but to also be patient and keep the goal in mind. It’s taught me how a business works: the ups, the downs, and how to deal with the customers and people involved. I’ve always had plans of one day being my own boss, and this provides that opportunity.”

Not only does Hayes show maturity beyond his 17 years, he demonstrates a wisdom beyond them, too. “If there’s any advice I can give to any aspiring entrepreneur, it’s that the ideas that seem crazy at the time you should still pursue. Find out for yourself if they are really impossible, because while finding this out, you may stumble upon an opportunity that opens a new door, a new door you would have never seen, had you not gone after that ‘crazy’ idea.”