When Grace Davis' three children grew up and left home, she didn't really want to go out and find a job.
So, the 54-year-old Westminster woman bought her own trash company, Gem Collections Inc.
"A friend of mine started the company [in May], and I thought it was a great idea," Ms. Davis said. "My friend started to have financial problems, so I bought the company.
"My husband thought I was crazy, but I had some money of my own and thought, 'Why not?' "
The new company, which serves about 270 customers in Carroll County, picks up trash at the door. Rather than customers hauling trash and recyclables out to the road once a week, Gem's driver will pull his pickup truck into a customer's driveway and take the garbage right out of the can.
"Some people just leave their garage doors open, and we go in and pick up the trash," Ms. Davis said.
She said she's worked the trash route a few times just to see what it is like.
"It wasn't as messy as I expected," she said. "Of course, all of the trash for us is tied up and neat in plastic bags."
The ride gave her a chance to meet some of her customers, who came out to greet the driver when he picked up the trash, Ms. Davis said.
"They are so appreciative of the service, it makes me feel good," she said. "Some of the older customers especially are delighted that we come so close to the house and that they don't have to drag their trash down to the end of the driveway.
"I've learned more about Carroll County and found out about roads that I never knew existed. And I grew up in Carroll County."
The new company has also given Ms. Davis an education in running a small business, she said.
"I've learned some big-time bookkeeping and how to talk to people that don't pay their bills on time," she said. "But people have been very helpful at the county, guiding me about what I need to do and what I need to be aware of.
"This is fun. It's a new adventure for me."
Ms. Davis said that the business has added about 120 customers, primarily senior citizens and disabled people, since she bought it in October.
"Our big selling point is that we come to your door," she said. "It's amazing how many people we got that way."
The fledgling company operates on a shoestring budget, Ms. Davis said, but she has always paid her bills. She has no desire to have more than 200 additional customers.
"We don't want to get much bigger," Ms. Davis said. "Our main selling point is that we go into people's driveways, and we can't go in very well with a larger truck. Our personal touch sells the business."
Her $12-a-month rate for weekly trash pickup at a customer's door -- raised from $10 per month -- is one of the lowest in the county.
The county's Solid Waste Collection Study Committee reports that only two companies -- Waste Management and B & B Hauling -- charge less per month for residential trash collection. Other companies charge $12.08 to $15 per month.