LOOKING BACK AT THE HISTORY OF TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®

Written by Rachel Christine

It all began in the 1980s in Lansing, Mich., with a 1966 Ford pickup truck as two high school brothers, Brig Sorber and Jon Sorber, wanted to make a little extra money by doing something different from delivering pizzas or flipping burgers. With the help of their mom, Mary Ellen Sheets, they put the pickup truck to use and created an ad for the weekly newspaper with the tagline, “Men At Work Movers”, and a line underneath that read “two men and a truck $25 an hour”.

Later on, their mom advised them to drop the “Men at Work Movers” title and call themselves “TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®”, and as a joke, she drew a stick-men figure on a napkin that would eventually become the original logo that remains with the company today.

When the Sorber brothers left Lansing to attend college, the phones kept ringing for their services, and Mary Ellen called the boys to ask if they would mind her hiring a few movers to keep the business going. As a result, two new team members joined in 1985, and Mary Ellen bought a 14-foot truck for $350. It remains the only financial investment she has put into the company to this day.

 

The business began in May and by the end of the year, Mary Ellen had a profit of $1,000. She took her entire profit and wrote 10 checks to local charities. This dedication to giving back to the community continues to be a staple of the company and is one of the six company core values.

While Mary Ellen ran the moving business, she also worked a full-time data processing job with the State of Michigan, which earned her a spot on a 1988 graduate business panel at Michigan State University. At the event, another panelist suggested she franchise her small moving company, and shortly after, she called her daughter, Melanie Bergeron, to ask if she would join the team. Bergeron had questioned if it brought in any money, and while her mother wasn’t sure yet, she said it was a business people seemed to need. Nevertheless, Bergeron gave up her dream job of pharmaceutical sales and opened the first TWO MEN AND A TRUCK franchise in Atlanta, Ga. Over the years she has served in many different roles and now serves at the executive chair of the company. Her leadership has been awarded in numerous publications, including the cover of Franchising World magazine and Franchise Times.

Over the company’s more than 30 years in the moving business, lessons and best practices were learned along the way, resulting in 95 consecutive months of growth for the brand.

We got into touch with a few of our first franchises to learn more about how the company has grown over the three decades it’s been in business.

Tim Lightner is a franchisee for the Madison and Racine, Wis. locations. His Madison franchise began with two movers and one truck in May of 1993 and today, they have over 60 employees and 20 vehicles on the road.

Lightner is proud of how far the company has come from the days when they would put rolls of quarters in the trucks’ glove boxes for their movers to use pay phones for contacting the office, and when everything was written in pencil because there were no computers around.

“The accomplishment I love the most is the nearly $1.5 million in donated moves our franchise has given back to the community since we started,” Lightner said. “What a great fun ride it’s been. I can’t wait to see where we are in 25 years!”

Cindy Tometich and her husband, John, purchased their franchise on December 24, 1996 in Des Moines, Iowa. They had three requirements for their business: to be closed on Sundays, to offer growth opportunities to their team members, and to have a service that cannot be replaced by the Internet. This past December, they celebrated their 20th anniversary with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK while employing approximately 75 people and owning 25 trucks.

“As Home Office has grown and developed, we have experienced the joy and sweat-equity of watching our own franchise grow as well,” Cindy said.

The original two men, Brig and Jon, still continue to be involved in the business today with Brig serving as co-CEO and Jon as executive vice president. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK has more than 350 locations worldwide and nearly 3,000 traveling trucks. With ongoing growth the company is experiencing, they remain embedded in the core principles that were followed when Mary Ellen first drew the original stickmen logo.

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