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Inside one of Truck and i's warehouse and storage facility for Big Vault. (click for larger version)
March 11, 2014
ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Carlos Urrea, who runs "Truck and i" and "Big Vaults," says he manages his businesses by the advice he learned from his grandfather Severo.

"'Being honest and trustworthy is the key,' that's what my grandfather used to say," Urrea recalled. "In the service industry for sure."

Urrea, who started his moving business in 1987 and has since grown to locations in Buckhead, Norcross and Alpharetta, says the moving industry is the most personable service.

"We come to your house and hold all of your possessions," Urrea said. "You're entrusting a lot and when you store stuff, it's an even longer journey."

Urrea, a Georgia State University business grad, started his company on a whim when he got a pickup truck and posted flyers offering his service.

Things took off rapidly.

"I was fortunate that some of the folks I knew in Atlanta were affluent and I got in the upper end of moving and built it from there," Urrea said.

But just as the housing market took a big hit in 2007, Urrea has had his challenges, too. "It's taken seven years to get back to where we were seven years ago," Urrea said. "So not only did the recession slow us down, but now post-recession, the price of fuel is higher, the cost of people and insurance is also higher. Coming out of the recession, our profit margins are less than they used to be."

What advice would you give a business owner about your experience?

URREA: "I think we didn't react fast enough. Being a business person, you tend to be more optimistic than you should be at times and you think you will be able to ride it out and you keep too much equipment and too many employees for too long. When your sales keep on slowing and by the time you react you might have lost a lot of money and you might not be able to make it back."

You recently launched Big Vaults is that different from PODS?

URREA: "Though we have some common elements, our full service approach makes the difference. When the trucks get there, we have a ramp and we load straight from the house directly to the Big Vaults and then bring them to the warehouse. It minimizes risk; also, because the furniture doesn't get left out it doesn't get damaged by extreme temperatures. It's a kinder way to store furniture and other belongings."

What makes Big Vaults a better service?

URREA: "We are the only moving company that offers this system in Atlanta. It's portable storage with a twist. It's more than a box; it's more than a storage unit. The containers come with a crew, three dozen blankets and everything is inventoried and insured. Definitely our human factor is what makes the difference. What our employees know is what keeps our customer's belongings safe. It's a lot less for a homeowner to fiddle with than going to a self-storage system. After all, moving is considered one of the most stressful events in your life."

So it's a mix of traditional storage meets PODS?

URREA: "You could say that, but because our warehouses are in Atlanta and close by, you can come to the warehouse and get access to your things. The crew will bring the Big Vaults down and that's a big plus. For PODS, the closest storage place to Atlanta is in Texas, so it's a different concept."

What does it cost to use Big Vaults?

URREA: "We estimate $300 per container to load and about the same to unload. The good thing is that we do it on a flat fee. To load, unload and deliver. For a three bedroom home or about six units, which includes loading, unloading, and storing it for a month, it is about $3,000. On average two rooms fit in each of the Big Vaults, and we work with very large homes."

What would be some reasons to call you?

URREA: "If you are adding a room to the house and making renovations. If your home has been damaged and you need to fix it. We also get called a lot because the timing of closings gets messed up, or if someone is selling their house and they sell it too quickly prior to finding another one to go to. If you are staging your home and need some de-cluttering to make it look nice and presentable. People also call us when they get divorced."

For more information, call 855-287-8673, visit www.bigvaults.com/services or www.truckandi.com.

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