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Packing it up.

Making maddening moves merrier

There's no doubt that moving can be one of life's more unpleasant and stressful events. But, for Hoosiers about to move, there are many resources available to help make the transition between homes a little smoother and a lot less stressful.

American Red Ball Worldwide Movers has been on the move since 1919. Three years later, the company was recognized as America's first long-distance mover after sending 10 loaded trucks from Indianapolis to New York City.

Since those early years, Red Ball has completed a series of first: introduction of the weather-tight van; insurance for household goods shippers; and a carrier/agent network. There are 202 full-service Red Ball agents throughout the United States and more than 450 in 170 other countries.

The employees and agents at Red Ball are concerned with more than just transporting goods. "We have some referral programs and reciprocal agreements with real estate agencies throughout the country," says Mike Duffy, executive vice president. "We also have relocation kits, which we provide a customer with about the schools, information about the city--those kinds of things."

The country's fourth-largest carrier, Mayflower Transit joined Red Ball in Indianapolis as an interstate carrier in 1927. As well as providing household services domestically and worldwide--the company has an international forwarder in Carmel--Mayflower employees also serve as consultants for companies to address transportation needs.

"We're dealing with human resources departments, traffic departments, or purchasing departments that procure moving and storage services for their company," says Fritz Lay, corporate relocation manager. "We write transportation agreements and also assist them in writing policy for the employee relocations."

This October, Fort Wayne's northAmerican Van Lines will celebrate its 60th anniversary.

The company has 750 agents in the United States, about 200 in Canada and 250 spread around the rest of the world. Also to its credit, northAmerican is the second largest carrier in the United States and, according to northAmerican's Pete Palmer, is affiliated with the first intercountry European van line. As holder of 40 percent of the shares, northAmerican gave some assistance and technology to get the company going.

Technology is helping northAmerican along, too. The company is a big user of satellites to track trucks, so if a truck should break down, the driver is only 15 seconds contact away from headquarters.

NorthAmerican isn't moving as many national accounts as they did five to 10 years ago, Palmer says. But, he adds, a different type of moving is becoming more prominent.

"I have seen a growth industrywide in the self move, the less-expensive type of moving, that has way outgrown the full-service van-line type of move," Palmer says. "We have a system here called 'You Load, We Drive,' which allows the customers the option to help by packing their own merchandise, and then by helping the driver load the truck, and it's a good bit cheaper."

Wheaton Van Lines of Indianapolis has its own way of helping people economize when they move. It's called 72 Ways to Save Money Moving, and it's free. Because costs are partly based on weight, the book gives ideas on how customers can pack lighter.

In business for 48 years, Wheaton prides itself in taking care of its customers, 32 percent of which are corporate and military accounts.

"We want to take the stress off the customer that's moving," says Anita Lockhart, director of quality assurance. "We're looking at the needs of those being transferred." The company has coordinators who organize moves from the initial visit to the move and follow up after the move is completed.

Twenty-six years ago, Evansville's Atlas Van Lines began an annual moving industry forum for relocation and human resources professionals and national account representatives. Each year, the 600 or so attendees listen to guest speakers, go through workshops, and complete a survey. Past workshops and keynote addresses have covered Establishing and Measuring Quality Relocation Standards, Programs for the Relocating Spouse, and Designing International Relocation Policies.

In addition, Atlas representatives work with companies under contract arrangements to help establish a policy and lay the groundwork.

There are certain advantages to having a formal policy. "It helps the company, it helps the employee and it helps the van line all the way around," Jim Huth says.

With such knowledge on corporate relocations and close to 70 percent of their business being corporate relocations, the 45-year-old company has become the nation's fifth largest carrier of household goods and specialty products. There are about 600 U.S. and Canadian and 800 worldwide Atlas agents.

Actually moving an employee and his or her goods is only part of the relocation process. The other parts include selling a home, looking for and buying a new one, and settling in a new town.

Agents can take care of listing and helping find the new home, but agencies are adding new services to complement their real estate business. Two such services for relocating families that have become more prevalent are spousal and educational consulting.

"The spouse that is not being transferred needs to find work and we have a consultant who has a list of places that they may seek whatever it is they're looking for," says Beverly Nowicki of McColly Realtors Better Homes & Gardens in Crown Point. "Also, they'll prepare a resume, free of charge."

Sharon Kalling of Mishawaka's Cressy & Everett--and Michiana's only real estate company with a full-time relocation department and staff--points out that it isn't an employment service. "We can open doors, but we don't make guarantees," she says. "If someone really needs an employment agency, then we can make that contact for them. But most of the time they just need to know what's available."

In some cases, agents themselves may know which human resources professionals can help the relocating spouse. "We're a buffer for just about everything," says Linda Castor, regional relocation director for Century 21 Great Lakes Inc.--Indiana Region. "We don't do it directly, but we can help you get there on a blacktopped highway instead of a gravel road."

Educational consultants will actually set up appointments between parents and principals, says Nowicki of McColley Realtors. "The educational consultant is aware of the different types of schools that we have in our area, from parochial to trade schools, courses that different colleges or universities would offer as far as people getting additional degrees or finish educations." The educational consultant also has statistics on SAT scores and percentages of children from certain schools who go to college.

If you're moving more than your employees--say, your whole company--Relocation Strategies Inc. in Indianapolis may be able to help.

"For the most part, we work on a consulting basis, with businesses that are relocating their offices," says David Bayse, president of the six-and-a-half-year-old company.

He and one other employee complete a move assessment; set up and chart a move schedule; write requests for bids from rigging companies, moving companies and other vendors; monitor progress and communicate with employees; supervise the move; review the billing; and follow up afterward.

"There's a list of pretty close to 300 items that can be applicable, but certainly not to any one company," Bayse says.

Moving--no matter the kind or distance--can be stressful. Castor of Century 21 agrees, "It can be a cold, dark world out there. But we try to make it bright."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Curtis Magazine Group, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Gilbert, Joe
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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