One of the pains of moving is rounding up enough boxes.
These days, most stores crush their cardboard for recycling. So amateur movers face buying boxes at up to $4 a pop.
Now they can rent a four-wheeled dolly and rugged, stackable, plastic BungoBoxes for a week at $1.75 apiece.
It's the brainstorm of two Orlando cousins, Tom and Bob Cannon, whose startup recently set up shop in the bay area by copying the common thread behind billionaire Wayne Huizenga's fortune: rent things.
For Huizenga it was renting trash bins from his Waste Management, videos from Blockbuster, cars from National or hotel suites from Extended Stay America. With the Cannons, it's about renting their 40,000 crates — made from recycled plastic — that pay for themselves after four rentals but are designed to last for 400.
"We aim to be the PODs of packing boxes," said Tom Cannon, the 39-year-old chief executive of BungoBox.
The edgy and elegantly simple business (slogan: "We Make Moving Less Sucky") takes the hassle out of chasing down packing materials by delivering and picking up its oddly named boxes for no extra charge. Orders come in through a toll-free call or the Internet, so the operation in Largo needs little more than a truck and a place to sanitize and store the unrented boxes.
Minimum orders are usually $75, but the company has done them for as little as $15.
"BungoBoxes rent for a quarter a day, so you can pack up a two-bedroom apartment for less than $80 on a one-week minimum," said Greg Steinig, the Largo franchisee, who gets half of his sales moving businesses and last week had 1,500 of his 2,000 crates rented.
A military brat and former pharmaceutical salesman, Steinig has lots of experience after moving 35 times in 48 years.
"We had a small operating profit the first month," he said. "I expected to do well from the start but was stunned when one of our first customers ordered 600 boxes to move their offices. Companies are moving all the time."
Weekend movers can buy stackable plastic storage totes of varying flimsiness for $7 to $15 at discount stores or Home Depot. If they're the type of movers who take years to unpack, BungoBox will sell its boxes, minus the rental fees.
The Cannons don't have the field to themselves. A national competitor called Rentacrate Inc., which has a distribution center in Tampa, offers a similar service, as does another called FrogBox in the Pacific Northwest. And the Cannons recognize that the business concept is so easily copied that they must become a national brand before others do.
"We differentiate ourselves with price and service," said Bob Cannon, the 43-year-old president of the company that now has franchises in Orlando, South Florida, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Atlanta and Nova Scotia.
They came up with the memorable name by happenstance. Tom told his cousin over the phone that he liked the word PungoBox, a play on a Latin phrase for packing up to move.
"I mistakenly relayed to my wife that it was BungoBox, which she immediately said was a great name," Bob Cannon said. "When I corrected myself that it really was PungoBox, she said, 'That name stinks.' "
BungoBox it was.
Mark Albright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8252.