What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
My traditional educational training includes a bachelors degree in marketing from Oakland University
and an MBA from Wayne State
. However, my passion to constantly advance my business acumen has evolved beyond traditional paths. My favorite resource for personal business development has come through mentors who I have met from being in business. Some are my customers, some are my former employers, and some are even my competitors. Finding new ways to improve or develop my business is an everyday part of my life. I volunteer and hold positions on industry and civic boards. My daily reading material is a mix of business books and news articles and I work to fill my social calendar with events that can either help expand my business network or include keynote speakers who I admire. Some of the recent programs that I have attended include Brand Camp Detroit
and Cliff Suttle's How to Become Meeting Royalty. I am currently reading Disciplined Dreaming
, by Josh Linkner
and my favorite show on TV is Shark Tank
Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
She was a senior citizen who was planning to move into a retirement community. We met when she saw one of our moving trucks and called us. I visited her house to provide her with an estimate. We ended up drinking tea at her kitchen table and talking about everything except her move for three hours. When it came time for her to choose her moving company, she said she was picking us because she wanted to work with someone who reminded her of her grandson. Like any good grandson, on the day of her move, I visited her house to make sure our movers were taking good care of her. She was so happy with the movers that she recommended my company to the managers of the retirement community. Shortly after, my moving company became the preferred moving vendor for the retirement community. We are now one of the largest senior relocation specialists in Michigan.
Where did you find your first employee?
The first move team came from within our organization. Despite our name being Professional Movers.com
, we actually began as a freight and delivery service company in 1978. In 2005, my brother and I decided to launch a moving division. We recognized the importance of diversification for our business and since we already had a staff of talented drivers it was a natural transition. It made business sense because it mitigated the risk of bringing on new hires with the possibility of not having the work to support their position. At the same time, it made sense for our existing employees because it allowed them to grow their skill set and become more valuable to our organization.
Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
Yes. Professional Movers.com regularly promotes from within from the ground up. Our version of the intern position or entry level position is mover. Everyone within our organization began their career with Professional Movers.com as a mover. It does not matter if you are in our accounting department, sales department, IT department, or operations, at some point you began here as a mover. We feel that by developing from the ground up we are building our business model on a strong foundation. As our movers are promoted, they have been exposed to the most important facet of our business and are better equipped to transition into their new role. That is why we confidently say our movers are intelligent, friendly, and highly trained.
Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We have been our own best resource for capital to grow our company. We continually reinvest our profits back into our company. This is reflective of our investment in our trucks, our moving equipment, our warehouse, and our history of carrying no long term debt. This is the result of our preference to target a more managed or steady growth. That is not to say that we have not had to take out loans, our approach just makes it much easier to find institutions that do not see our company as an unusually high risk. Like any good business, when we do need to take out a loan we shop rates and pick which institution can offer us the best terms.
What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
We see Detroit as big city that still has limitless opportunity for entrepreneurial companies like ours to grow. The cost of entry right now is still low, there is lots of talent for employers, and regardless of your business, right now you can open up shop in the city and competition has yet to stamp their fingerprint on the city. That same opportunity does not exist in Chicago or somewhere else. If want to start a moving company in Chicago, good for you, now get in line and take a number. Here you are original and different and if you are committed to being the best you will be No. 1. Here you have the army of Detroit do-gooders who want to help see businesses succeed and want to support the revitalization of Detroit.
If you could change one thing about this region, what would it be?
My company is moving more people and business to Detroit than we ever have. That is a positive indicator that things are on the right track. Obviously, we know our region still has flaws, but it is not one big thing that is going to make things instantly perfect. Instead, by having lots of people focusing on lots of little things, the impact would be far greater. The little changes will help draw more people to becoming involved in the causes they feel most connected to and the appeal would be magnetic.