In my neighborhood, I used to walk past an old faded blue pickup truck with rusted bumpers. It had
tall sheets of plywood lining the walls of the flatbed to create a box for debris. A sign hung on the back
of the truck that read:
Gabi’s Hualing 818-555-5555
My wife Robin and I would laugh and point whenever we walked or drove by the forlorn truck
parked next to a cement culvert of the Los Angeles River. We figured the owner must be a loser. If
you’re going to enter the hauling business, at least learn to spell the word “hauling.” Right? It’s the only
word you MUST get correct. And did he actually register a domain name with an incorrect spelling?
How much business could Gabi actually be getting?
The truck did not move for over a year, it seemed. Or, maybe Gabi did a hauling job here and there
and then returned his truck to the bridge over the L.A. River. I shook my head and snickered with
disdain for Gabi and his efforts.
Then, about a year ago, a large post card flyer appeared on my front porch -- the post card was
advertising Gabi’s Hauling:
Trash Bins and Container Rentals: Let us do the Hauling and Cleaning!
Rubbish and Trash Removal of All Kinds
No Job Too Big Or Too Small
Fast hard Workers
Residential or Commercial
NO JOB TOO BIG OR SMALL
Demolition and Clean up
Single Items to Multiple Truck Loads
I felt ashamed, I must admit. I had dismissed Gabi as a loser, but within a few years he had
transformed his company from one small truck with a misspelled sign to a prospering business with a
fleet of trucks, many workers, and plenty of jobs, all during an economic downturn. And he did it
embracing work that many people dismiss -- trash and junk removal.
His website is now spelled correctly, and you can check him out at www.gabishauling.com.
It was a great lesson for me. I remember a phrase, “do not despise small beginnings...” I had to look
it up to find its source, and it’s from the Old Testament, the Hebrew Prophet Zechariah:
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zechariah 4:10
It’s great advice, both as a way to look at the world, and to look at my work. Everybody was a
beginner once, and you have to start somewhere. Success and excellence come from showing up day
after day, making mistakes, learning and improving in small increments. That diligence leads to
While Gabi did all the work, I also give credit to my country, the United States. On this July 4th
weekend, I realize that Gabi, who is an immigrant, could not have succeeded to the same degree in any
other country. It gives me hope that we are still the land of opportunity.
I have more respect for humble beginnings now, and next year I’m going to tear up the asphalt in
my driveway and replace it with paving stones and turf, and I’m going to hire Gabi to do the demolition
and to cart away the debris.