April was rough for North Valley moving company Muscular Moving Men & Storage.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses taking a hit and Gov. Doug Ducey issuing a stay-at-home order, the company—despite being deemed an “essential business”—was worried about the potential impacts.
But now, looking back at those spring months, Jennifer Villalobos, the company’s vice president of residential and commercial development, feels it’s “tremendous” where Muscular Moving Men has made it.
Despite the pandemic, the company has seen increased business, which has led to several internal changes—including the addition of a junk removal subdivision on November 2.
Muscular Moving Men’s 2020 hasn’t been entirely positive, though.
“There were definitely concerns, because what we started to see was a lot of people actually calling to cancel or push their moves further out in the year, because it was almost like they also didn’t know what was going to happen to them financially. What we saw also in the real estate market was when Gov. Ducey was putting all these restrictions, Realtors also couldn’t have open houses,” Villalobos recalled, acknowledging “a lot of uncertainty” earlier this year.
Founded in 2008, the company supports local and long-distance moves and provides self and full-service storage, packing and crating services, and packing supplies. A commercial moving division that launched last year, M3 Commercial Moving & Logistics, handles local and long-distance commercial moves and can assist with IT relocation, project management, storage/warehousing, shredding/purging, liquidation and installation.
But the company has recently faced several challenges, including office staff largely working from home (though Villalobos says the company kept some of its team on-site due to being “essential”).
As for the dispatch process, Villalobos acknowledges having to be “very cautious and aware” when sending movers into people’s homes. That includes strict health guidelines, viewable on the company’s websites.
“I think for us, we had to modify the way we went about being our business, because everyone was so concerned about COVID,” Villalobos said.
It was when Ducey lifted the short-lived stay-at-home order in May, Villalobos feels, that the company started to rebound.
Now, with 80 more residential and commercial moves this September than the same time last year, Muscular Moving Men and M3 have reported a combined 33% year-over-year growth in business. M3 alone is forecasted to end 2020 with 80% year-over-year growth, according to the company. Simultaneously, demand for storage space has increased by 20% year over year.
The company attributes recent success to a hot housing market, historic low mortgage rates, and high-quality moves and customer service. As for storage, some people have been moving without specific plans.
“A lot of people are trying to take advantage of that extra equity, and that’s really where we started to see people just calling us; and what we actually started seeing more is moving people into our storage facility,” Villalobos explained, after mentioning a large amount of people moving from out of state.
While the business has been on an upward trajectory, usually expecting year-over-year growth, Villalobos said Muscular Moving Men & Storage, like many other businesses, sees seasonal changes. Summertime is the peak, with fall and winter focused on preparing for the year ahead. In this case, however, it’s fall and business still hasn’t slowed.
“This year, now going into our slower months, we’re still busy,” Villalobos said, estimating that this October’s sales have tripled compared to last year and calling it “astonishing.”
As a result, the company has made a number of changes.
Perhaps the most notable is the new junk removal subdivision, which has tapped Ethan Delahunty as its director and will donate reusable items that are in good condition to local nonprofits, according to the company.
Demand for storage space—with capacity maxed—led the company to purchase 100 additional storage vaults, with more planned.
“We actually expanded as an office. The office next to us was actually available, so we just took on that office right next to our office,” Villalobos added. “There was a little bit of construction that went on to create that additional warehouse space.
“It kind of goes to attest for that growth in our business.”
And office staff increased from 17 to 26 employees this year, with field staff increasing from 45 to 65, the company reported. But it is still hiring “mover-athletes” and drivers.
Because a lot of growth happens internally, Villalobos said there are endless opportunities within—with movers getting to know the company and working their way up to higher, more challenging roles.
“We’re being cautious of COVID and anyone spreading or catching anything, so it’s made it a little bit of a slower process to bring anyone on because of that,” Villalobos said, acknowledging small-group training. “So that’s been a little bit of a challenge, but that’s something that we’re trying to adapt and tackle on as we’re growing as a business.”