Fifty Men, Thirty Trucks
"I was nervous, excited, a little irritated," Alan Oversmith recalls.
by Patrick Dunn
From the March, 2017 issue
The year was 2010, and Oversmith was on his first vacation since his honeymoon nearly a decade earlier when he got the text: he had the opportunity to take over the Brighton franchise of Two Men and a Truck.
Oversmith never set out to be in the moving business. He used to be a site manager for a general contractor, and came on board as manager of the Ann Arbor Two Men franchise in 2002 only after a couple of years' worth of recruitment efforts. Although he had to learn an entirely new trade, he says, he "immediately liked the business, the interaction with the public, and the fast pace." He bought the Ann Arbor franchise in 2005, and added another in downriver Detroit in 2009.
The text about the Brighton opportunity "kind of ruined the rest of the trip because the wheels were turning," Oversmith admits. When he returned from a less-than-relaxing time in Las Vegas, the Stockbridge resident hammered out a deal to buy the franchise. He expanded his portfolio yet again last year, when he purchased Two Men and a Truck's Wixom location and moved it to Farmington. Between them, the four locations field about thirty trucks and an average of fifty movers--who, at the moment, really are all men. Staff numbers nearly double in the summer, a reliable busy season Oversmith refers to as "controlled chaos."
The company started in the early 1980s when Lansing brothers Brig and Jon Sorber started a moving business with their pickup truck while still in high school. Their mom, Mary Ellen Sheets, designed Two Men and a Truck's simple but distinctive stick-figure logo, and incorporated the company after her sons went to college.
Sheets and the Sorbers are still involved in executive roles. Even with more than 330 Two Men and a Truck locations nationwide, Oversmith says, the company maintains a "small, hometown vibe." At company meetings, top executives are willing to have a conversation with employees
ranging from "any mover that might come off the trucks ... up to the longest-standing franchisee. It makes it very easy to buy into the company's culture."
Oversmith will expand again this spring, but not with another franchise. He'll move his Ann Arbor location into a newly built office near the intersection of Jackson and Baker roads, with 12,000 square feet of new rentable storage space on site. He doesn't rule out adding more franchises, but says the right local opportunity would have to present itself.
"I wouldn't say I'm actively seeking anything out, but I really have never ever actively sought anything out," he says. "They've just kind of happened."
[Originally published in March, 2017.]
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