New small businesses fail almost as often as they succeed and Tom Mantzouranis’s initial efforts in the moving business were no exception, despite his 30+ years of experience in the industry. But when he and his wife Karen started Main Street Movers in 2010, they knew they had hit on the winning formula.
“I wanted to build a company that stood for everything I believed in so I took the lessons I learned from my mistakes,” says Tom. “Even though I was gainfully employed, it was important to me and my family to take this leap. “
Main Street Movers is a full-service moving and storage company, providing services to residential and commercial accounts. Over the years, it steadily expanded its reach with work as a subcontractor for national commercial furniture distributors and manufacturers as well as international executive relocation companies.
Tom Mantzouranis on starting the business
“We’re a family-owned business and we pride ourselves on our service and quality. We’ve seen steady growth because our customers know who they are dealing with and can trust that we will do our very best,” says Tom.
Ready for the next step
The company hit a real growth spurt in 2013 when it entered into contracts with moving-giants Bekins Van Lines and Champion International Moving. This good fortune, while very welcome, posed some challenges: space and cash flow.
Main Street’s 8,200 sq.ft. location in Hillside simply was not large enough to handle the new business . And unlike residential moves, which are ‘cash on delivery’, corporate accounts can take 45+ days to pay, leaving Tom and Karen with increasing overhead.
Tom Mantzouranis talks about the
Karen and her brother Charles Cacici, who acts as the company’s financial advisor and business developer, met UCEDC loan officer Paula Star at an SBA event in late 2013. They had never heard of the SBA Community Advantage 7a loan program, but when Paula explained the program’s benefits, including low down payments and flexible collateral requirements, they knew it was their best chance to get the working capital they needed.
They had already identified a new warehouse location in Irvington, which had more than double the floor space at 21,700 sq ft. But the move required about $50,000 in new equipment. Working closely with Paula, Tom and Karen were approved for a $150,000 loan, which they used to finance some of the equipment and cover the costs of their increased accounts receivables.
“You simply cannot grow without sufficient capital,” says Tom. “Our new location has opened new doors for us in the corporate world and we’re better positioned to take on new business, thanks to UCEDC and the Community Advantage program.”
Like all successful small business owners, Tom and Karen know they have to continuously look for ways to find new customers and expand their business. Karen left her job as an advertising executive to join Main Street full-time to concentrate on direct sales, marketing, and business development for the company.
“We’re working to maintain the right mix of residential and corporate moves along with storage accounts to keep our cash flow in balance,” explains Karen. “That requires a mix of marketing efforts, including social media and digital advertising along with old-school relationship building through networking and cold calls.”
Tom and Karen see a bright future for their company and recently welcomed their daughter Nicole as part of the Main Street Movers team. But as Tom knows, continued growth is not without its challenges. “We’re getting close to the next stage of our business, which means we’ll need more capital to fund that growth. We may be going back to UCEDC because they were so great to work with the first time.”