February 13, 2018

Two Men and a Truck franchise targets New Haven for growth

Photo | Contributed
Photo | Contributed
Movers from Two Men and a Truck's new Elm City franchise.
Photo | Contributed
Doug Sudell, owner of Two Men and a Truck offices in Rocky Hill, Avon and now New Haven.
Photo | Contributed
One of Two Men and a Truck's new vehicles in front of the New Haven office at 458 Grand Ave. in Fair Haven.

Moving franchise Two Men and a Truck is expanding into the New Haven market, opening an office in Fair Haven's Powerhouse Building and adding up to 20 jobs.

Doug Sudell, who also owns franchise locations in Rocky Hill and Avon, said he opened the 1,000-square-foot office at 458 Grand Ave. in January in response to customer demand.

The proximity to highways, Yale and the Shoreline made the refurbished historic industrial building an ideal spot for the moving and packing business, he added.

"We were getting a lot of calls from the New Haven area and we were dispatching trucks from Rocky Hill," said Sudell. "Having an office in New Haven gets us closer to the customers we serve. It keeps costs down for them and it keeps our trucks on the road for shorter periods of time."

One of only two Two Men and a Truck franchises in Connecticut (the other is in Norwalk), Sudell's business has been on a growth track since he opened the Rocky Hill location in 2014 with just two trucks and six employees. By May, he expects to have a dozen trucks and roughly 50 employees in all three locations.

There are currently eight employees in the New Haven office, including a location manager, part-time marketing person, part-time operations manager and five movers, said Sudell. He expects that number will grow to between 15 and 20 by summer, once everyone is hired and trained.

"We're really excited about growing the business and being part of the New Haven community," he said.

Founder Mary Ellen Sheets launched the family-owned company in 1985 after her two sons left for college. Today there are 390 locations in the U.S. and Canada. Based in Lansing, Mich., it recently ranked 89th on Entrepreneur Magazine's 2018 Franchise 500 list, and No. 1 in the movers/junk removal category.

Sudell attributes the company's success to its focus on customers, investment in staff and a track record of community service.

He said workers are trained not only in the logistics of moving, but in customer service and satisfaction. Employees are also offered training in career advancement skills such as resume building, he said.

"What we try to do is empower (our employees) so they can make the most of their time with us," he said. "We understand that they're not all going to be with us forever. If what we can offer them in small part is a leg up in the job market, then they're always going to remember Two Men and a Truck as a great first job."

Many others, like New Haven location manager Stephen Menyfield, are groomed to rise within the company, Sudell said, working their way up to management from jobs as movers and customer service reps.

Sudell, who had no experience in the moving business prior to Two Men and a Truck, said he was drawn to the company because its core values aligned closely to his own. He previously owned several Subway restaurants in the Boston area and ran a nonprofit, Hands on Hartford, which connected businesses and volunteers with specific needs in the Hartford community.

Pam Batten, Two Men and a Truck's compliance officer, said Sudell's expertise in both the nonprofit and business realms made him the perfect franchise partner.

"All of our franchisees engrain themselves in the community. They do a lot of community service, a lot of charity moves," she said. "Doug's really been a great addition to our system."

In New Haven, the company is already partnering with local nonprofit New Reach Inc. to collect and deliver diapers and other personal care essentials for women and families in crisis between now and Mother's Day, Sudell said.

The company will collect items during a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony with New Reach and city officials from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 21.

Natalie Missakian can be reached at news@newhavenbiz.com

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