From rock bands to home removal: meet the modern moving companies

It's no secret that moving house can be a painful process, but that's starting to change thanks to a new generation of movers and packers who are happy to help shoulder some of the load.

This new wave of home removalists has spawned popular favourites like Abbotsford's Man with a Van, and Collingwood's Friendly Moving Men; a handsome crew who recently disrobed to create a charity calendar in aid of homelessness support service Merri Outreach. While lifting heavy things is their stock-in-trade, it's the community spirit that really sets these moving men apart.

Brunswick-based Little Red Trucks was founded in 2004, and has made a name as a modern moving company with a knack for good old-fashioned customer service. Billed as "the small move company", Little Red Trucks was started by three mates, Joel Griffith, Simon Edwards, and Peter Spark, who all played in local rock bands.

"Our bosses used to get mad because we'd take every Friday off to play a gig," Spark says. "So Joel bought a van and we started moving on the side."

With many of their muso mates keen to jump on the bandwagon, the boys decided to get serious about the business, and things took off.

"At the time we started most removalists were single operators and there was a lack of focus on the customer service side of things," Spark says. "We definitely saw there was a void that needed to be filled. That was what we focused on from the get-go."

Collingwood's Friendly Moving Men recently disrobed to create a charity calendar in aid of homelessness. Collingwood's Friendly Moving Men recently disrobed to create a charity calendar in aid of homelessness. Photo: Georgia Rose

Today, the company boasts a fleet of 10 trucks, 35 staff, and a reputation as one of Melbourne's best moving companies. While the business has grown, its independent ethos has stayed the same, and the vast majority of workers are still recruited from the local music or arts scene.

"As employers we wanted to take on other musicians, because we knew they needed work and were good at lifting stuff," Spark says. "Most musicians and people in the arts have a background of dealing with people, it's almost a form of customer service in a way."

It's a dedication to making the moving experience as pleasant as possible that has driven the success of Little Red Trucks and their peers.

Brunswick-based Little Red has made a name as a modern moving company with a knack for good old fashioned customer service.

Brunswick-based Little Red Trucks has made a name as a modern moving company with a knack for good old-fashioned customer service.

"There's still that perception of removalists as being heavy lifting thugs, so customers are often surprised that we show up and are nice people and are good to talk to," Spark says. "Moving house can be stressful, so if we can not only lift their stuff but also be good to chat to and sort of ease the tension of the day then it definitely makes a difference."

Men that Move is headquartered in Sydney's Marrickville, and offers a range of services from free eco-friendly stackable packing boxes to interstate moves. Owner/operator Damien Carroll purchased the company in 2012, and demand for the service has skyrocketed with the business expanding from just one truck on the road to a fleet of 15, as well as opening offices in Melbourne and Brisbane.

"Most of our business comes from word of mouth and repeat customers than from advertising or anything like that," Damien says. "Long gone are the days where if you did a bad job no one would find out, there's a lot more accountability in the industry now."

Sydney's Men that Move offers a range of services from free eco-friendly stackable packing boxes to interstate moves.

Sydney's Men that Move offers a range of services from free eco-friendly stackable packing boxes to interstate moves.

These days, a new breed of removalists like Platinum Removals, with their flashy orange trucks and tongue-in-cheek tagline "we love the work you hate", and Holloway Removals, are helping to shake up the industry in NSW, and put customer service at the forefront.

"Driving around on a Saturday, which is your busiest moving day, you're not seeing your bigger trucks, you're seeing the smaller guys," Carroll says. "We give our customers a service that they really need and want, that's not too expensive for them and still profitable for us."

For Men that Move, ensuring that customers are satisfied from the moment they first pick up the phone, to when the last box is unpacked, is key to success.

"The communication from when the customer books with you to the time you've finished the move, to following up in the days after, is so important," Carroll says. "In the past everything was focused on getting the job done. Now we're focused on taking care of the customer from beginning to end."

The story From rock bands to home removal: meet the modern moving companies first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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