Article by “Natasha Dalton”
Aaron Steed got a lot of media attention after his trip to the White House. In 2011 Steed was among the 100 young businessmen in the nation who were honored at the first ever The Empact 1OO Recognition celebration, an event dubbed as “the Academy Awards of Entrepreneurship.”
For 30-year-old Aaron Steed that whole event was “surprising, humbling, inspiring, and incredibly rewarding. The ceremony was streamed live on the White House website, and I especially enjoyed overhearing my employees bragging about it and our company,” Mr. Steed said upon return. “It helped us with reaching out to new customers and with our recruitment efforts.”
But even before Mr. Steed’s trip to Washington D.C. and the media blitz that followed, his company, Meathead Movers, was already making headlines, and not just locally.
Meathead Movers has been named the #1 Moving Company by SLO County’s New Times, Santa Maria Valley’s Sun, Ventura County Star; and even the LA Daily News. After being featured in some major media outlets, like Forbes, Fox Business News, and MSNBC, the company drew national attention.
High school and college students are often asked by friends and family to help with various odd jobs that require ‘muscle power.’ But Aaron and his brother Evan found a way to move beyond “$20 and a pizza” in exchange for their sweat equity, and build a company that would become a real asset to the community.
The success of their business model is tied to the uniqueness of the company’s workforce, which consists, for the most part, of student athletes. The company’s commitment to work around athletes’ busy schedules is a good’ enough recruitment tool for students looking for a job. Add to that an on-site fitness facility, computer lab, transportation assistance, and opportunities for professional growth, and the appeal of the Meathead Movers among job seekers becomes easy to understand.
As for the company’s patrons, they appreciate the fact that, whenever possible, the movers are encouraged to jog on the job, (but not with your precious antiques in hand. In a business where the customer pays by the hour, it’s an unusual, but definitely an attractive feature.
“To those who have full-time jobs with us, we offer a solid 40l(K), paid vacation and very competitive pay. We also encourage creativity and offer extensive leadership training,” Aaron Steed said. The results speak for themselves: the key players, like the General Manager, the Orange County Manager and the Quality Assurance Manager in Camarillo have been with Meathead Movers for many years.
“We realize that for the majority of our employees, working for us is a temporary episode in their lives. Most of them are destined to do bigger and greater things in the future. Regardless, our core belief is that there’s nothing more important to us than to do right by our employees, and our customers,” Aaron Steed said. “We want them to see us as the safest, friendliest and the most ethical choice.”
Besides good management skills, these numbers reveal the story of personal growth. Hard times can either break or make a person, and in the case of Aaron Steed, challenges only strengthened his commitment to his company and his principles.
Steed was only 20 when Meathead Movers was hit with a huge jump in worker compensation payments that threatened the company’s future. “We didn’t have rich parents or any other safety net,” Steed said, recalling the stressful year of 2000. Yet, the company was able to ‘maneuver through this difficult time,’ and persevered.
Another bump on the road happened in 2007: as the banking industry began to quiver, Meathead Movers’ line of credit was cut. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time: the funds were withheld when the company had just expanded its office, and was preparing for its busiest season.
They did more than just survive. Meathead Movers emerged from the crisis stronger than ever, and the last two years have been their best on record. With the company’s current 44% growth rate, it hit $5.7M in revenue in 2012, and is projected to post $8.5M in revenue in 20l3.
With all this success, some well-wishers began to talk about franchising. But Steed isn’t in a hurry to ‘milk’ his business
“We want to see where we can take this company. We try to be creative,” Mr. Steed said. “Right from the start we always focused on compelling reasons for being in business, and on having a unique business model rather than just simply existing.”
And here are just some of the latest developments: the company that started as a local agent can now move you state-wide. It has offices in Camarillo and Los Angeles, and is working towards opening an office in Orange County.
By popular demand, Meathead Movers incorporated a sister company, Meathead Packers a brainchild of Aaron’s wife Erin. “At first, we were just lifting heavy furniture, but as the quality of our services improved, people began to ask for packers,” Steed said. Packers sprang to life as a response to these requests.
Another addition is a chain of storage units-a useful and timely service with great potential.
“I remember first meeting Aaron when he was a fiercely competitive athlete at San Luis High,” said Aaron Cantrell, a former wrestling coach. “He brought that same tenacity to his business. He’s a philanthropist, especially in the area of youth sports. He makes us all better by his contagious example.”
Meathead Movers donated a dollar to their Cinderella Fund for every box packed-and their charitable contributions are counted in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Just recently the company donated $3,500 to the SLO Police Department, asking it “to use the money at its discretion for the needs of at-risk youth.
“We work hard, have fun, and serve our community by providing premium moving services, as well as assisting victims of domestic violence with a fresh start in life,” reads Steed’s statement on LinkedIn.
For those who are thinking about starting a business, Steed’s word of advice is: “Do it. If you have this entrepreneurial drive in you, it’s going to haunt you until you find something that gets you going,” he said.
“So, go for it. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be: it’s easier to stay focused on your business when you don’t have the demands of a serious relationship, or children to raise, or mortgages to pay. You just need to believe in what you’re doing, and give it all you’ve got.”
SOURCE: Central Coast Journal Plus: 10-13 issue