Erik Haney – Movegreen and Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Business Show: 004 – Erik Haney

Announcer: Welcome to Santa Barbara Business Show where we brush the tar off our feet and sit down with local business owners and thought leaders. Now here’s your host, Doug Holt.

Doug Holt: Hello everyone and welcome to Episode 4 of the Santa Barbara Business Show. Well, it’s got a little bit more weather here in Santa Barbara than we used to which is nice and we definitely need that. I’m really excited to have on the phone today a call with Erik Haney. I’ve known Erik for many years and been very impressed with his growth professionally and seen what he has done.

Of course, many of you know Erik. Erik is the owner and founder of Move Green, an environmental conscious moving and Storage Company based here in Santa Barbara, California. In this show, we’ll going to talk to Erik about why he chose Santa Barbara to do Business in and how that community has been involved. As well as his business and how it has evolved over the years. I think you’re going to get a lot of gems out of this.

Of course, if you’re driving or getting a workout while listening to this, don’t worry, we have the show notes always for you at BrandedInnovation.com/SantaBarbara and you can pick up all the latest information not only from this show, from previous episodes and you’ll get those in the future as we move forward.

A little bit more about Erik and Movegreen before we jump into the call, Erik established Move Green back in 2007 with the idea to change the game and then the age old business in moving. Move Green was started with a moving truck and a dream of innovation. It has grown over 20 percent each year since its inception and has become a cornerstone of the Santa Barbara business by having been voted Best Moving Company five years in a row by the Santa Barbara Independent.

Something I love about Erik and his business visions, something we both share is giving back to the Santa Barbara community. Erik and Movegreen has helped to raise over $150,000 for local schools and classrooms and has donated to other local organizations like Heal the Ocean the Junior League of Santa Barbara which I think is so important here and that’s why we have him on today. So without further adieu, let’s jump-in to the call with Erik.

Hi, Erik! Thanks so much for joining us today, I really appreciate it.

Erick Haney: Yeah, absolutely. Doug, it’s a pleasure to be on thank you so much for having me.

Doug Holt: I want to jump right into it. There’s a lot we can cover here and those listening got a taste of who you are in your bio and you’ve been around in Santa Barbara for quite a while, so a lot of people know you. But for those that don’t know you, tell me how you got where you are today, why Move Green and why the business in Santa Barbara?

Erick Haney: It’s a great question. Movegreen was really started back in 2007, foundation of kind of change the game, try to change in age old industry of moving and storage and kind of just trying to come over some new age ways to be a little more echo-conscious and again kind of innovate the business.

Basically, the way we did that was coming up with basically some ways that we could be a little more conscious with our business and everything from biodiesel trucks to paperless quotes and contracts and we also plant in trees with every move and then those kinds of things. So we have tried to integrate things along those lines from the foundation back in 2007.

Doug Holt: Which I think is fantastic. Somebody that came to Santa Barbara TCSP, I have a degree actually in Environmental Studies and although I don’t practice that as much just to my personal life, I think it’s fantastic what you’re doing. And I’m assuming you’re getting a lot of feedback from a community like Santa Barbara that is so environmentally conscious.

Erick Haney: Absolutely. I think Santa Barbara as you know happened to be the place where I lived but it was a very good marketplace for the business model, people are very receptive to what we’re doing and they appreciate it. And that we’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re not this huge game-changers but we’re just doing our part and kind of showing that every business whether it’s in sales or whatever. There are always little things that you can do to be a little more conscious of the environment and our surroundings.

Doug Holt: Now, as a new moving company to the scene, looking back at your past, how to have intent going forward because I know you guys are looking at a lot of growth right now. What have been some of the ways you found have been paramount in marketing yourself and getting the word out there about how you are different?

movegreenErick Haney: That’s a good question. Our marketing, a lot really, our name is very simple because it tells you kind of what we do in our name, Movegreen. But there’s also a little bit of, it’s something where it’s the “Why not?” factor and it’s in the moving industry, it’s something that the name goes in its simplicity and also really can capture people’s attention because they’re like, “Wait, how were they green?”

And they get themselves asking themselves these questions and then they will call us for instance from like a Google search or something to inquire about what we do but that’s one way, I think it starts with the name and the foundation because it’s different. It’s not like a last name or something like that, so it’s kind of different in that way.

And then we also have the “why not” factor, why not try to go with something that is trying to make a difference versus the next guy and also, just the community involvement. I’m pretty passionate about the community here in Santa Barbara and have routinely giving back and helping out with non-profit organizations in other areas like that.

Santa Barbara is a very tight-neck community and I like to be as much involved as I can help whenever I can whenever it’s from the Teacher’s Fund non-profit here with Village properties or the Junior League of Santa Barbara, Mary Mount School, these are just a few that we’ve been very supportive with over the years.

Doug Holt: Yeah, I know that studying your website and even just being through social media I’ve seen you guys been given a lot of shout-outs online about all your efforts in the community, so congratulations.

Erick Haney: Yes, thank you. It’s something we don’t do for the accolades but we do for giving back to this community that we’re in and try to give back to the people that help us.

Doug Holt: Yeah. And I think that’s exactly why you get the accolades, you come from a true heart and that’s amazing. Great job! As entrepreneurs, we face a lot of challenges as you know and you guys have been very successful, looking to double in size but tell us about a time that you felt you hit a wall with your business that you didn’t think you’re actually going to be able to push through but found a way to make it a success.

Erick Haney: Yes. That would be right at the beginning. We started on October of 2007 at a financial crisis as you might call it hit about 3 months later and in December and January of 2008 when the stock market kind of collapsed and the housing market was collapsing as well. So we were obviously a very brandnew business with no track record, anything at that time.

So it was really a kind of a time where we had asked ourselves, do we want to buckle up and get through this and try to come out the other side? On top or just as easy just to be like fold and kind of succumb to the crisis that a lot of people did or were forced into succumbing to? But we were able to really force through that and we buckled up and just kind of have the attitude of “Hey! We’re going to just make it through this!” and hopefully we’ll come out on top on the other side of it.

And then when a lot of companies in my industry either went out of business or downsized drastically and were really hurt, we were actually able to grow 15-20% every year since we started and we were able to do that by again having the discount or pricing or just adapt to the marketplace at that time. And that was our struggle at tons, no doubt about it. But through hard work, determination, and just not giving up we were able to come out of that on top.

Doug Holt: Yeah. It seems like hard work is always the answer. Anyhow, in just looking at your website I’ve noticed you don’t only just do residential and commercial moving a typical mover would do but you also offer other services such as storage, is that right?

Erick Haney: That’s right. About a little over a year ago we moved into a very large 17,000 square foot facility in downtown Santa Barbara down in the Burchell Building and we’re really growing the storage business inside of our business. We started with about a hundred storage vaults in which those are 5×7 individual units that are actually portable so we can move them with a forklift on a back of a flatbed truck and deliver them right to people’s houses and then come back here and are stored in our warehouse. But those were now over the 400 in here.

So the storage that you could see has grown drastically in the year’s time. But yeah, so we’re over 400-storage vault in here and growing. It’s really a great solution for people to kind of have a full service storage option. So what that means is we’ll actually come to the residence and load your items directly into your storage units on site there and then we come back here.
So they’re actually only loaded and unloaded once so it’s kind of a one-stop shop. You don’t have to buy a lock and go to a storage center and then have the mover take the stuff to the self storage unit and then you have multiple parts, multiple bills, and all that kinds of stuff. We could kind of integrate all into a one-stop shop.

Doug Holt: Yeah. More streamline effective it sounds like.

Erick Haney: Yes, absolutely. I think that our clients are finding that as we have this available that it really is nice and it’s easy and you just kind of have one point-of-contact.

Doug Holt: How receptive have you found the Santa Barbara community to be?

Erick Haney: Very. I would say very, in Santa Barbara there’s obviously a need for moving. There are lots of moving that goes on around here whether it’s moving within the neighborhoods and schools and families relocating that way. But it’s also a town where storage is a necessity. A lot of people that move here from other areas are used to much bigger square footage of a house and when you come to Santa Barbara you quickly realize that you have to kind of downsize as far as stuff goes because houses aren’t as big. There’s not a lot of Mick Mansions here.

Doug Holt: No.

Erick Haney: But it’s an adjustment. So what people typically will do in that instance is have a need for storage and I think that that’s why we’ve been able to grow the storage side of the business as fast as we have. It’s just that there is a need for it.

Doug Holt: And a fascinating business. I have a number of clients, I think 18 clients in the self storage business from my marketing firm and I think it’s just an amazing business. And for you to be able to do that in the Santa Barbara area, I think it’s not only interesting but it’s also such a needed area as you mentioned.

Let’s switch gears here for a second and I want to know more about you from a business standpoint. So what I want to do, people listening from our feedback are entrepreneurs, business owners in Santa Barbara but also people looking at taking that jump. So let’s help them out. Let’s set the scene. So you’re walking downtown and you find a time machine. You’re able to go back and talk to yourself as a young 1st year entrepreneur; what advice would you give to your younger self?

Erick Haney: Preparations. I think that preparation and knowing and kind of keeping your eye on that end goal and a lot of times there are always those trials and tribulations that you do when you start a business. You’re constantly asking yourself those questions like “Did I do the right thing? Is this for me? Did I make a mistake? I think just trying to really listen to your positive self and really try to concentrate on your passion, follow it, and just dive in and really go forward. And I think that if you do that more often than not, you’re going to come out on top.

Doug Holt: Great advice. It’s December 1st and what I want to know is what can we expect or what kind of listeners expect from Erik in 2015.

Erick Haney: It’s going to be an exciting year. 2015, we’re actually looking to acquire and we are acquiring another business in Ventura County and we’ll be expanding the operation down to Ventura County which is great because it’s very close and down the coast but it’s also a whole new market for us.

So Move Green is looking to essentially double to triple in size in 2015. So it’s going to be an instrumental year for the company and for the growth and couldn’t be more excited about that to come down into Ventura County and be able to offer our topnotch service down there.

Doug Holt: Triple growth. That’s huge.

Erick Haney: Yeah. Ventura market is a bigger market as far as there are more people. If more people come, the more volume with moving and that’s part of our business obviously, it’s just the more people that are to move the better. So yeah, it’s an exciting time.

Doug Holt: Excellent. And following up from the time machine question for those listening; what books have made the biggest impact in your life and why? Are there anything in particular jumps out for you?

Erick Haney: That is a great question. The book I read recently was called the E-Myth.

Doug Holt: Michael Gerber.

Erick Haney: Yes. And so it’s really the preface of the business as why most small businesses fail and it kind of goes like what not to do and how to get around it and kind of the practices that successful have tried and have implemented that led to the successful businesses. And I found the book fascinating. I really believe in its message and I think it was spot on.

Doug Holt: So did you start systemizing your business after you’ve read that.

Erick Haney: Yeah, definitely. Obviously, there’s a lot of moving parts in the moving business. No pun intended but there really are a lot of aspects of this business and whether it’s dispatching out 20 employees in a day and having 20 employees out on the street with four trucks and then having storage client in here and that kind of stuff.

There’s a lot of going on in a day-to-day basis around our headquarters and having everything in systems and things in place is very key and being organized. In that way you’re allowed to be proactive instead of being reactive and that’s something I use all the time is trying to stay ahead of problems instead of being reactive to them but having the proactive attitude and systems in place where you kind of stay ahead of everything.

Doug Holt: Yeah. So you don’t have to be Polly baking the pies all the time.

Erick Haney: That’s right.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. Erik, for people listening also a lot of times you hear that doing business in Santa Barbara is much more difficult in say Ventura that you’re entering into; do you find that to be true for your business? Or do you find it to be a welcome audience?

Erick Haney: I would say there are definite challenges in Santa Barbara from probably top to bottom whatever business it is you’re starting because it’s what I refer to as a niche market and if you don’t have your niche, it’s going to be a little bit tough because there isn’t a high volume of people. Like you said, there are the challenges of Santa Barbara versus say of Ventura County.

Santa Barbara is a very tight-in-it community. It’s not very large so you have to kind of make sure that you are on top of your game at all times because as quickly as your business may be able to grow, in Santa Barbara it’s just as quick as it may shrink and could possibly suffer. So I think that the Santa Barbara community is a difficult one but I think if you really put that stress on topnotch customer service, it is a community that definitely does acknowledge that and does appreciate it.

Doug Holt: And I couldn’t agree more. Both of us have businesses in town for quite awhile. I think it’s such a warm and welcoming community to do business in.

Erick Haney: Absolutely.

Doug Holt: Erik, if anybody wants to learn more about you where should they go?

Erick Haney: They can always visit our website at WeMoveGreen.com. There you’ll find kind of all the services that we provide like we spoke about anything from moving locally to long distance across the state, internationally, and storage, and any packing and creating services as well. We do all of that. So the website is great tool for learning anything else about us.

Doug Holt: Fantastic. Erik thanks you so much. I know you’re busy. I appreciate you taking the time out your day to be with us.

Erick Haney: You bet. Absolutely and thank you again for having me and it’s a pleasure.

Doug Holt: That’s all for us today at the Santa Barbara Business Show. Thank you again for all your feedback. If you know somebody you like to be interviewed on the show please let us know. You can e-mail me directly, doug@brandedinnovation.com. Of course you can get all the show notes here at BrandedInnovation.com/SantaBarbara to see everything that Erik and I talked about. Until next week, enjoy all that holiday cheer and enjoy the festivities going around town. I’m sure we’ll see you at some of those. On behalf of the team here, have a great week!

Announcer: That’s a wrap. For show notes and details on this episode, go to BrandedInnovation.com/SantaBarbara and don’t forget to leave us a review in iTunes if you love the show. We’ll see you next time on State Street.

Links & Resources mentioned in this episode:

Erik’s Website – Movegreen

Michael Gerber’s Book – E-Myth

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