Speaker, workshops offer tips

May 11, 2009
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These days a small business might consist of one person and a cell phone — and maybe a laptop. In 1967, for example, two brothers started out very small with a company they named Two Men & A Truck.

That’s exactly the demographic the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce plans to celebrate on Tuesday.

“We started about as humble a beginning as you can start with,” said Jon Sorber, executive vice president and co-founder of Two Men & A Truck, and keynote speaker for the chamber event. “My brother and I started hauling trash in an old pick-up truck. A few years into that, our mother picked up a small delivery van and we started moving furniture because it was cleaner and safer.”

The Sorber brothers planned to let the company fizzle out once they went away to college, but their mother, who is also the designer behind the company’s trademark stick figure logo, hired friends of the brothers who stayed local and kept the business going. She joined the local chamber, where another member suggested she franchise the business.

Today, Two Men & A Truck has 200 locations in 35 states and has expanded into Ireland, the U.K. and Canada.

Two Men & A Truck recently won the J.D. Power and Associates award for Highest in Customer Satisfaction as a full-service moving company, and a Top 50 award from Franchise Business Review.

“We’re in the moving business, and houses aren’t selling like they used to, but that creates other opportunities,” said Sorber. “There’s still people moving in and out of apartments. There’s still offices and commercial jobs going on, and that’s forcing us to look into other avenues for revenue, as well.”

As for advice for budding small businesses, Sorber has one word: delegate. It’s a word he heard while listening to another West Michigan entrepreneur.

“Hire people smarter than you and then get out of their way and let them shine,” he said. “I heard Fred Meijer speak one time and he said, ‘People ask what are the keys to my success.’ And he said, ‘Delegate, delegate, delegate.’”

The May 12 event also will include two workshops: “Combating Stress in the Workplace” presented by Sara Nader of Gazelle Sports, and “Weathering the Storm: Tips for Small Businesses” presented by Paul Spindler of Adamy + Company PC and Doug Wilterdink of DW Associates LLC. Both workshops will run twice from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

This year’s event also will mark the inaugural Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

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