It’s no surprise that people are moving to — and from and within — Colorado Springs. And they’re taking their potbelly pigs and stuffed moose with them.
Just ask the owners of the local franchise of Two Men and a Truck. Jeff Walker and Eric St. Pierre’s franchise was the sixth-busiest in the company during the second quarter this year, with 8.26 percent growth. Year-to-date, the franchise is experiencing 8.3 percent growth.
“This town doesn’t sit still long,” said Walker. “There’s so much military. They’re not afraid to hire movers.”
More than two decades after starting the business in 1992 with one truck, the two men now total $4 million in annual business.
Walker and St. Pierre met in middle school in Michigan. They also attended the same high school, and when it came time to go to college, together they chose the same school, Ferris State University. Walker graduated with a degree in industrial electronics, and St. Pierre with a degree in communications and television production.
Both men were “college grads doing our thing,” Walker said. He worked in a factory as an electrician and St. Pierre worked editing films, but both wanted to own a business — and it seemed natural to do it together.
Their friend and St. Pierre’s brother-in-law owned a Two Men and a Truck franchise in Michigan, and they liked the business model. They began doing their research and initially wanted to start in Florida.
Walker was serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, and a friend of his worked in Colorado Springs.
“He talked so favorably of Colorado Springs,” Walker said. They considered Colorado Springs, Denver and Boulder and finally settled on the southern city, largely due to the military presence.
“We felt Colorado Springs was a good fit. We bought a truck, loaded it up and brought it out here.”
They paid the franchise fee and started with two trucks. That first year, St. Pierre and Walker worked part-time jobs to augment their new business.
“This town doesn’t sit still long.”
– Jeff Walker
In the early years, the Springs franchise experienced double-digit annual growth. They did all the moving themselves.
“In late 1993 we didn’t have to have part-time jobs. The city was growing like crazy,” Walker said.
They started adding employees and continued to expand.
Initially, the Springs business listed 10- to 15-percent growth year over year. During that time, the company added a truck a year until 2008, when they skipped a year. That year, the company saw a 13 percent loss, but typically, the gains were between 8 and 10 percent, Walker said.
Even during the economic downturn, their franchise wasn’t hit as hard as others, Walker said.
“We seem to be a little more insulated from the poor market conditions because of the military and government,” he said. “When things were crashing right and left, there were still a lot of military [moves].”
The consistent business led the two to hire college students for the summer months.
“College students catch on pretty quick and they’re looking for fairly good money,” he said.
With tips and bonuses included, movers can make up to $15 an hour, and for drivers, the top pay can reach $18 an hour. The franchise agreement prohibits the use of temporary labor; Two Men and a Truck workers are paid employees. The same people load and unload the truck.
The Springs franchise currently employs between 30 and 40 full-time and seasonal workers and has 23 trucks. They plan to handle more than 7,000 moves this year alone, said Two Men and a Truck Corporate President Randy Shacka. The number represents their success.
“They have a great history and a 98 percent referral rating,” he said. “They are consistently one of our top performing locations.”
Walker and St. Pierre have also expanded their franchise south to Pueblo, where they have five trucks.
Interstate moving has grown more than 100 percent in the past five years, figures that hold true for the Springs franchise, Shacka said.
A moose and a pig
No job is too small — or too large, Walker said.
“Our business ranges from moving a sofa from one house to another to a 5,000-square-foot house and businesses, dentists and doctors,” he said. Now, “we’re big enough, we can handle almost any size business move here in Colorado Springs.”
Memorable moves have involved a stuffed moose and a live potbelly pig.
During one of the more challenging moves, St. Pierre and Walker were hired to move a large decorative promotional moose, Marty the Moose, from one business to another.
In another move, the family had a potbelly pig that got loose.
“I grew up on a farm. My dad was a pig farmer. My [moving partner that day] grew up in the city and was scared to death of the pig,” Walker said. “I grabbed the pig and put it into the back of their van.”
In the 22 years they’ve been here, St. Pierre and Walker, both 48, met their future wives, have been married and are raising their children in Colorado Springs.
“This town has just been a blessing to us,” Walker said. “I’m so thankful that whatever guided us to this city, I’m glad it happened.”
Two Men and a Truck
Location: 3320 Fillmore Ridge Heights
Contact: 576-6683 Colorado Springs; 543-9000 Pueblo