A dad from Lewisham who started a waste removal business in lockdown, says he has made £280,000 in a year – after being made redundant at the beginning of the pandemic.

Daniel Kernahan, originally from Lewisham and now living in Kent, started his Kernahan Contractors business during lockdown.

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Daniel took online courses for five weeks and self-taught himself to code and create a website for the online platform, where customers can book for waste to be recycled and collected.

Before the pandemic, the 32-year-old was self-employed and working on building sites, but was made redundant in March 2020.

He found himself out of work, “bored”, and playing video games - which was a hobby he never had until the national lockdown.

It wasn’t until his dad suggested joining the waste management industry, when Daniel saw the potential for collecting rubbish from residential areas.

Now a director of his own business, Daniel says his business has “exceeded past any expectations”.

Daniel said: “Back in the early 80s, my dad had one of the biggest waste management companies in the UK, but he lost his business under the 2006 recession.

“I didn’t know much about waste that came from residents’ houses – but decided to research the waste industry and see if it was worth a shot.”

Daniel says he found “no simple way” for customers to book and collect waste online.

He added: “The only removals I saw were private contractors or the Council - that would arrive maybe a week or two later.

“So, I used my knowledge for technology and combined it with research into the waste industry and thought I’d take a stab at it.

“I taught myself how to code because I couldn’t afford the cost of a web designer.

“It was tough, but I had no other choice.”

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Kernahan Contractors prides itself on offering waste collections to residential areas, as well as commercial, construction and fly tipping waste.

It has completed nearly 8,000 collections across Kent and south east London since the business began in 2020.

Daniel added: “The business has superseded my expectations; the customers have been fantastic.

“We now have brand new vehicles, including skip lorries, more than 15 members of staff and a huge van advertising the company.

“It’s great because you see people in traffic taking photos of the van and then tagging you on Facebook.”

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Daniel’s partner Vesta helps manage the operations behind the website.

He added: “When I first started the business, my aim was to provide money for my six-year-old daughter through the lockdown, and I had intentions of going back to my work on building sites.

“But by the time the public could go back to their standard jobs, the business was already at six employees, two vehicles, and two waste yards – one in Rochester and the other in Charlton.

“Now we have over 15 employees across both areas, including my partner, Vesta, who helps out with the operations behind the website.”

Daniel says the motivation behind his business is inspired by his dad.

He added: “My dad would implement businesses similar to how I have – this is because I learnt from him growing up.

“We still have a great relationship and I chat to him all the time.”

Daniel told the News Shopper that managing the business in the beginning was “challenging” as he had a lot of area to manage but was working from home.

He added: “I decided to buy officer containers in the yard – complete with IT systems and lighting.

“Now I am never home – I work 20 hours a day, usually in the office.

“It is nonstop, but I want this business to grow and the only way to keep growing is to keep working.”

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Daniel says his next steps for the business is expanding his collection areas and moving to bigger vehicles.

He said: “The next step is to move from vans into the heavy goods vehicles, such as lorries.

“Last year I invested in a skip lorry, because it can manage heavier weights and more waste – it is now as busy as the man and the van option.

“We made over £280,000 last year alone, and this year it would be great to keep the company expanding.

“The website does really well for sales and customer service, because people can trust it and easily book a slot for waste to be collected.”

Daniel says he prides himself in knowing he is making his six-year-old daughter proud.

He added: “Although my business is doing amazing, I am far from wealthy, I just work really hard.

“I’ve got a six year old daughter, and I pride myself in knowing she has a father who owns his own company – it makes me feel happy.

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“It is also great providing jobs for people, as well as being a sustainable company.

“I want people to come into work happy and go home the same way.”