The Edwards Agency

Business

Coinstar owner takes change in stride

Jens Molbak

Jens Molbak, founder and president of Coinstar, is happy to finally have his product carried in his hometown.
Photo courtesy of Coinstar.

Coinstar by Jeff Switzer
Jens Molbak is one of the few company presidents in today's business world who takes any and all change in stride. His 3-year-old company, Coinstar, has grown from 30 machines to 1,000, and arrived at the Woodinville Stock Market the second week of August.
   The concept is simple: Bring in that large jar of coins and dump them into the machine. The machine then sorts and counts them and produces a voucher that can be exchanged for groceries or cash. The service deducts 10 percent for pennies, five percent for other coins.
   "We view the Puget Sound region as a very attractive market for the service we provide," said Molbak. "It is exciting to see so much consumer response in our home communities in Western Washington. In particular, the strong commitment by retailers such as Stock market Foods is gratifying. It's indicative of the kind of reception our service is receiving around the country."
   Molbak, who grew up in Woodinville and whose parents started Molbak's Nursery, formed his company after discovering through research that people needed a way to "turn their coins into usable cash."
   His statistics show that 75 percent of the people in the United States say they have accumulated coins at home, though only 25 percent actually roll them. The average stash amounts to $25, and the average penny stash, held by 50 percent of the population, is $10. Three percent throw away their saved pennies.
   Coinstar is averaging 200 installations each month and processed more than 1,500 coins last year. Their single largest transaction occurred in May this year in Burbank, California, where a customer turned in $4,612.
   The company's "billionth penny" came in early July.