Multiple corporate moves are often a natural part of having a career. As you'll read in this story, even seasoned veterans have concerns. You'll meet a couple making their eighth move...and you'll see how Atlas works for the privilege to help them again when they someday make their ninth.
Over the last 18 years, Hal and Diana Plemons have lived in Iowa, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Michigan, Illinois, Texas, and now Arizona. Hal is a healthcare facilities manager, and the couple's willingness to relocate has enabled them to enjoy the new horizons that accompany a successful career. The two are about as comfortable with moving as people can be. But it wasn't always so.
"I remember our first move," says Diana. "We were leaving home, picking up bags and baggage, and traveling 1,500 miles to the frontier. Fear of the unknown made it scary... Now we look at moving with eyes wide open, as an adventure. We've lived in some awesome places and seen great parts of the country."
However, when we moved to Texas, we did all the packing ourselves and hired a crew to load the boxes onto the truck. It took a lot of time and effort. Definitely, a full service corporate move is much easier."
The Plemons' most recent adventure unfolded last year. In July, Hal applied for a position in Arizona. When he was offered the job in September, he and Diana accepted and put their house on the market.
"On prior moves, it took an average of six months to sell the house," says Hal. "This time, it sold in five days."
Hal and Diana Plemons have made their home in eight different states over the last 18 years. "We see moving as an adventure," says Diana. "We've lived in some awesome places and seen great parts of the country...it's all good."
As is often the case for employee homeowners, Hal started work at the new location, while Diana stayed behind to take care of household business. Although Diana knew what to expect, she was anxious. They were moving from Harlingen to Yuma—one remote area to another.
As it had 18 years earlier, fear of the unknown was making Diana uneasy. Could she get the service she had come to expect? Would Atlas get them safely packed, loaded, and delivered from one rural location to another, far from the many resources of more populous areas?
Good partners make good outcomes.
Sodexo, Inc. is a global company that provides quality-of-life services. In North America, 125,000 employees serve 10 million consumers at 6,000 locations every day.
"We relocate between 400 and 600 employees a year," says Amanda Barron, Relocation Administrator, Corporate Human Resources. "On every move, I expect the employee to make it to the new location, worry less about the moving experience, and stay focused on their work."
Like many big firms, Sodexo relies on good partners to ensure good outcomes. Cartus Corporation manages the relocation function, including the assignment of moves to household goods carriers. At Sodexo's direction, moves go to one of two approved companies, depending on the state of origin.
"We've established preferences for assigning moves based on each carrier's strengths," says Amanda. "When moving from Texas, we use Paxton Van Lines (1610). I know if an employee has a problem, all I have to do is pick up the phone and Paxton takes care of it."
Amanda says the Plemons' move was typical in most respects. But she was aware the geography posed a challenge. "Our main business lines are in public schools, universities, or hospitals, and some of these locations can seem like the middle of nowhere," says Amanda. "I think that's how the Plemonses felt about their move."
Paxton puts the wheels in motion.
"We were notified of the move on October 23," says Charlotte Corey, Relocation Coordinator with The Paxton Companies. "I called Mr. Plemons the next day to get an idea of the load size and when they planned to move. He was already working at his new job."
Charlotte reached out to a local Atlas agent for help with the in-home survey. The estimate came in a little over the fixed benefit amount.
"We worked with Mrs. Plemons to find options for saving money," says Charlotte. "As it turned out, they were able to lower their cost by taking two flat-screen TVs and a glass tabletop themselves."
When she first spoke with Mrs. Plemons, Charlotte could tell her customer was apprehensive. "I wanted her to know this move was just as important to us as it was to her," says Charlotte. "I told her we would do whatever was needed to make sure everything went smoothly."
In the days leading up to the move, the two ladies spoke often, communicating as friends on a first-name basis.
Well aware of Diana's uncertainty, Charlotte called on one of Paxton's highest-rated Professional Van Operators, Shoy Drews, to provide the van service.
"I called ahead and spoke with Mrs. Plemons to let her know when I would arrive and to make sure they were ready for me" says Shoy.
It was Shoy's first time in the area, and he needed to locate some qualified help. He had one experienced packer and mover with him, right-hand man Jason McAllister. Checking with the nearest Atlas agent, he found two more.
And each had been cleared in a thorough background check as a condition of employment. They arrived at the Plemons house on the morning of December 3, packing day.
"Once we got started, I tried to stay close to Mrs. Plemons and put her at ease," says Shoy. "I go out of the way to make my customers happy, even move things around, if that's what it takes."
Planning and preparation make moving more efficient for everyone, and the Plemonses were organized and clear about what would stay and what would go.
"I know there are certain things movers cannot take," says Diana. "When we move, I collect and organize all the things we will take ourselves."
As she always does on packing days, Charlotte called the house and asked Diana if she had any questions or concerns. Everything was going smoothly.
"I could tell the crew was professional," says Diana. "They took good care of us, and they treated our home as if it were their own. They laid carpet runners down and padded the doorways to protect the woodwork. Nothing was damaged."
Charlotte says Mrs. Plemons called back later to say how much she liked her crew. "Not every customer takes the time to pay a compliment like that," says Charlotte. "It meant a lot to me."
Home sweet home in Arizona.
The shipment weighed in at 14,800 pounds and occupied about half a trailer. When Shoy arrived in Yuma, the Plemonses were a day away from closing on their new home.
"We were able to work it out so that we could keep the shipment on the truck for a while longer at no charge," says Charlotte.
"I knew it would be a lot easier for our customer if I delivered right to their home rather than put their things into storage," says Shoy.
As it turned out, Paxton found another load for Shoy, so his downtime was minimal. After delivering on December 8, he was off to El Paso for a load that would take him to Oklahoma.
Hal and Diana handled most of the unpacking themselves. "We like to settle in quickly, so we can start to explore the area," says Diana. "We never know how long we'll be in a place."
In the survey of their satisfaction, they gave the Paxton team excellent marks. "Charlotte was very responsive and compassionate," says Diana. "Whenever we'd leave a message, she'd get back to us right away. For our next move, we'd like to use Paxton and Charlotte."