The global pandemic has impacted both Atlas® and the moving industry in unprecedented ways this year, but as Atlas® World Group Chairman and CEO Jack Griffin puts it, “Sitting around and waiting for the storm to pass isn’t something we do, because it isn’t who we are.”
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted Atlas business in 2020. It’s
the first major obstacle Atlas® has encountered as a company — and we’re not alone.
Like many others, the moving industry has changed — perhaps permanently. People are canceling or rescheduling their moves, corporations are rethinking job relocations as they learn just how effective virtual collaboration can be, and new safety, sanitizing and social distancing regulations have altered the logistics of moving.
But despite these challenges, Atlas is pivoting quickly. “Sitting around and waiting for the storm to pass isn’t something we do, because it isn’t who we are,” said Jack Griffin, Atlas® World Group Chairman and CEO. And just as we’ve done for more than 70 years, Atlas is innovating and implementing new strategies to stand the test of this tough time.
PIVOTING TOWARD NEW OPPORTUNITIES
The most difficult consequence of the downturn by far has been cutting expenses to stay profitable. Furloughs and pay cuts were necessary in order to manage costs while still maintaining the same level of service Atlas is known for. But despite the cuts, the company is staying nimble and making strategic changes to be proactive in the market and move forward toward rebuilding.
The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt across the moving industry — especially relocation management companies (RMCs) which are, of course, Atlas’s biggest customers. “Corporations around the world will most likely never be the same in relation to travel and relocation requirements,” said Barry Schellenberg, Atlas® Van Lines President and COO. “And that’s going to have a permanent impact on our industry.”
But just as society is figuring out new ways of doing things, Atlas® is too, by expanding into new markets and
diversifying revenue streams.
The good news? Even in the midst of the pandemic, private real estate is booming. People are buying and
selling homes at record levels, which presents a great opportunity for Atlas to expand into the private consumer segment.
The great news? One of our international companies won the international business for Apple Inc. On “top” of that, Atlas recently acquired TopHAT Logistical Solutions, an e-commerce company that is positively thriving in these times of direct-to-consumer delivery. These bright spots have given the organization around the globe — and their agents — tremendous hope for the future.
However, by no means is Atlas abandoning the corporate segment; instead, we're choosing to diversify and create aggregate growth so that the corporate side of the portfolio is less dominant.
SAFER, CONTACTLESS SERVICES
Although Atlas is broadening its services, COVID-19 is also changing the way we offer them. The need to follow CDC and WHO guidelines was obvious, but instead of mandating major procedure changes and safety policies in a vacuum, Atlas has taken a very collaborative approach.
The comments and suggestions from clients, Atlas agents and Professional Van Operators (PVOs) on how best to keep everyone safe were instrumental in developing new safety procedures and no-contact options. Contactless services like online document signing, virtual quotes and no-contact packing and loading of personal belongings created a renewed sense of trust and security in customers and agents alike.
“We’re well known in the industry for meeting the demands of our customers,” said Schellenberg. “Seeing
that we were willing to adapt to their needs has created a deeper, more meaningful respect in our relationship with them.”
A BRIGHT FUTURE
Atlas has been growing exponentially over the past few years. The numbers have been stronger year-over-year since 2010, with 2019 seeing the best earnings in a decade. 2020 started off 8 or 9 points ahead of 2019, and Atlas was poised to continue to soar. But then the world stopped as our communities and economy came to a pause.
But here’s the important thing to remember: Atlas is still going to be profitable this year. We’re a well-run, fiscally conservative company — especially when compared to competitors. And by continuing to expand, innovate and streamline services, Atlas is maintaining its spot at the top of the class.
“We’re not going to be complacent. We’re going to pivot, rethink our marketing strategies to be more
consumer-minded, and execute these monumental opportunities that stand before us.”
BARRY SCHELLENBERG, President and COO, Atlas® Van Lines
“COVID-19 has hit the moving industry hard, but overall, the future of Atlas is very bright,” said Griffin. “We’ve been knocked down, but we’re getting back up.”