Companies take the hassle out of address changes

Most people do not relish the idea of moving. Let's face it. It is a hassle, generally requiring time we don't have or don't want to devote to sorting, packing and hauling.

People today are busy balancing demanding jobs and demanding families. And older people, who aren't as busy, often are no longer able to handle the demands of making a move. They also dread sorting through the “stuff” they have accumulated over 20 or 30 years of living in the same place.

Over the past few years, a new type of moving company that offers advanced moving options has stepped in to help.

CMF Transitional Organization (CMFTO) in Chicago is one of a growing number of companies that is offering to make the moving experience less onerous. Not only do they pack, unpack and move household items, but they help with interior design (where do I put this once I get it there?), hang pictures, set up kitchens, assist with “editing” a home's contents and even clean the old home for the new residents.

Wally Soderstrom, a retired grinding and machining company owner, recently moved from a house in Lincolnshire where he had lived for 20 years to a senior community in Lake Bluff.

“My kids helped a lot in the beginning and took some of the furniture that I wouldn't need,” he said.

“Then, once they (CMFTO) came in, they did everything. They donated, sold or threw away the things I could no longer use since my new apartment is much smaller than my house was. They measured my furniture and did a schematic of my rooms on paper so that I could decide what would fit and where I wanted it,” Soderstrom recalled.

On moving day, then, they moved the remaining items to his new two-bedroom apartment, set everything in place, based on the diagram, and unpacked clothing, books and household items and put them all away. The crew had already set up the kitchen cabinets and drawers on the afternoon of packing day.

A day or two later, they returned and hung all of Wally's pictures where he had decided he wanted them. With other people who are not as decisive, they can even handle the framed item placement, according to Merrilee Hepler, senior associate at CMFTO.

Finally, when Wally attended the closing on his old house, he heard from the buyers how pleased they were with the spotless condition of the home when they arrived. CMFTO had handled that cleanup, too.

“It was a totally pressure-less move for me. They took care of all of the major and even the minor items and double-checked everything. Once they came in, they took my worries away. They even made up my bed in the new apartment. I have told my friends that Merrilee and her crew were superb and worth every cent I paid,” he stated.

“We assist people of all ages with their moves and transitions, whether they are moving to a smaller place or a larger place. We want individuals, couples or families to be able to just come to their new home and start living there,” Hepler said.

CMFTO was founded in 1999 by Claudia McLaughlin, an interior designer. It has offices in Chicago and Los Angeles. Competitors in the Chicago area include Premier Relocation and In & Out Moving, both based in Chicago, too.

“Moving companies have been trying to find ways to broaden their scope and diversify their services in order to give customers additional reasons to hire a professional mover instead of trying to make the move themselves,” said Scott Michael, president and CEO of the American Moving and Storage Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

“Offering add-on services is a way to fill an important need and also to differentiate themselves from their competitors,” he continued.

Much of this innovation in the moving industry took place during the recession and housing crisis when the market for movers declined by 30 percent almost overnight, Michael said. Many moving companies went out of business and others were forced to rethink their business models and offer additional services.

Today innovative moving companies are finding customers among young professionals whose time is very valuable and who are willing to pay for services like this, as well as among downsizing seniors who are physically unable to make such a move themselves and have no children available to assist.

“Our population today is so mobile that many of us no longer live in the town where we grew up so we aren't close enough to help our parents pack and move. That has created a need for moving companies that can step in and help,” Michael said.

Third-party services that partner with moving companies have also sprung up. Some handle the actual move while companies like CMFTO do the packing, sorting, editing and so forth. Then there are national companies like Updater and 360 Home Connect that will subcontract with moving firms to handle the switch-over of all the utilities. A New Jersey-based national charity called Move for Hunger has even popped up. Those who don't want to pay to move canned goods and unopened food items from their pantries can donate it to a local food pantry through their moving company if it is affiliated with the charity.

Premier Relocation advertises that it offers add-on, additional fee services like hooking up your cable services, stocking your pantry and even purchasing toiletries. In & Out Moving, on the other hand, calls to set up clients' utilities — electric, gas, water and cable — for free. A concierge emails the client a list of installation dates and times, as well as new passwords, but it is still the client who has to wait for the installers (frowny face here!)

  Moving company associate Marilee Hepler talks with resident Wally Soderstrom about his Chicago Cubs memorabilia at his new residence in Sheridan in Lake Bluff. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  Moving company associate Marilee Hepler arranges knickknacks on a table for resident Wally Soderstrom at his new residence in Sheridan in Lake Bluff. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  The Sheridan in Lake Bluff. Moving company associate Marilee Hepler helped resident Wally Soderstrom move into his new residence. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
An employee of the CMF Transitional Organization packs up Wally Soderstrom's former home in Lincolnshire before his recent move. Courtesy of CMFTO
An employee of the CMF Transitional Organization packs up Wally Soderstrom's former home in Lincolnshire before his recent move. Courtesy of CMFTO
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