Firm found a niche in managing business moves
Commercial Works continues to thrive because company officials know moving an office is more then just moving boxes: It’s about thinking and planning several moves ahead.
President and CEO Doug Hollingshead attributes that core philosophy of always planning ahead to company founder Dan Cordray.
“Cordray founded the company in 1973 under the principle of being a service-provider to business office moves only, which was unique at the time,” Hollingshead said. “Cordray didn’t have moving experience prior to opening this up, but as an entrepreneur, he’d worked with business-relocation people and uncovered this niche.”
At that time, according to Hollingshead, businesses had to pay exorbitant fees to avoid work downtime when moving offices because most movers only offered regular, weekday hours.
Before Cordray, most office moves were treated as just picking up boxes and delivering them, he said.
“Cordray started small with just four guys and a truck,” Hollingshead said. “He realized large business like Nationwide needed someone to manage a move without downtime, dealing with the planning and details, and that’s how we got started.”
Today, the Columbus-based company operates in seven markets in the Midwest and East Coast and is in the process of expanding into the Orlando, Fla., market.
“We’ve learned a lot along the way,” he said. “Our business has had to diversify and change due to a changing world, which is how we went from becoming primarily a moving company to a full-service solution-provider.”
When Hollingshead started with Commercial Works in 1985, technology didn’t play as large of a role in office moves and fewer employees worked offsite, he said. Today, he said, the space footprint for an average employee has dropped from 55 square feet down to about 20 square feet.
“That means we don’t move as much furniture, but the disconnection and reconnection of technology and equipment has become a much bigger part of our job and we provide those kinds of services,” Hollingshead said. “We diversified into selling office furniture and fixtures, as well, to smooth the transition and we also saw the clear need for a professional project -- or move management -- service for these businesses.”
Most companies do not move more than once a decade, Hollingshead said, and they don’t have staffs that are knowledgeable about how to manage all of the components of a major move when it happens.
“There was a study done by the International Facility Management Association that found 40 percent of people put in charge of office moves when that wasn’t their normal job ended up leaving the company within 12 months of the move due to stress,” he said.
“I think our key to success has been that we are able to pay close attention to the needs of our customers, to keep them productive in their business while we manage the move,” he said. “We work with a sense of urgency and as a team with an attitude that keeps our customers coming back.”
Hollingshead added that providing growth opportunities for Commercial Works’ employees is a key as well.
“Our team is our most important asset and we’re completely committed to growth to provide greater opportunities for them,” he said. “We don’t have a secret recipe locked away somewhere to rely on like KFC. Instead, it is our people that make everything happen.”
Staying ahead of the market is important to Hollingshead. An example of this is the move to a professional services style of offerings, including technology and now, with the Orlando expansion, greater involvement in furnishing hotel properties.
“Orlando is a growing market and we’re doing a lot more work in the hospitality business arena. The opportunities there are tremendous,” Hollingshead said. “We like to say we plan, we furnish, we move and we manage – those are the key things we’re focused on, and that is what we’ll keep doing as we expand our business.”
More information is available at commercial-works.com.