Newton | Chris Barringer | www.barringermoving.com
My counselor’s positive attitude and wealth of knowledge were a relief. And the fact that he has been through our same issues as an entrepreneur himself makes all the difference.
ABOUT BARRINGER MOVING AND STORAGE This family-owned business provides turnkey moving services for residential and commercial customers looking to move across town or across country. Moving is a stressful time, which is why they take steps to ease the transition and provide services to ensure their customers’ things arrive safely. In addition to packing, protecting, unloading, and unpacking, Barringer also offers short- and long-term storage solutions in their climate-controlled warehouse.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO MOVING? I owned an insurance agency, and I loved it. When a friend of mine bought AAA Moving with a partner, he begged me to get involved. Finally, I told him I’d become an investor and help out two half-days per week. Well, I fell in love with the business. It’s a good thing, too, because it turns out I really bought myself a full-time job. But, as a result of unfortunate circumstances, we ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2005. We had to liquidate everything and my wife, Melissa, and I lived in her parents’ basement for four years.
SO, WHAT CONVINCED YOU TO START OVER? It felt like we were being pushed back into moving. I tried other careers including real estate, which I loved, but it was 2008 and the economy went south. We couldn’t help listening to the signs pointing to starting another company together. I researched the market and knew several previous employees ready to come work for me. I talked to several of my previous clients to see if they were interested and their response was, “When can you start?”
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN OPENING YOUR DOORS? Because of the bankruptcy, we had to grow without access to conventional debt capital – even with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. We started out with Melissa’s credit card and were completely debt-free, paying it off every month for the first two and a half years. All of our growth was done very cautiously and completely self-funded.
WERE THE FIRST FEW YEARS WHAT YOU EXPECTED? We officially opened the doors in January of 2010 and had to hang on. In five years, we’ve done more in a recovering economy than I did in 10 years with AAA and it has all been organic growth through word of mouth. The first three years we were growing 80% year after year. We started out renting a cute little 5,000 sf building and within a few years we were renting six buildings across Hickory. We just moved into this building, and we’re already 75% full. Plus we’re able to employ an average of 20 or more, and that’s something we love being able to do for our community.
WHAT DID IT TAKE TO GET A LOAN FOR A NEW BUILDING? The SBTDC. When we found the right building, our first call was to our SBTDC counselor, Byron. He was a tremendous help. He educated us on what the bankers needed and asked us all the questions that the bankers would ask. The banks loved it. They didn’t have to ask the questions, because we had the packet ready and we looked like a professional company. Honestly, without that assistance, no banker would have even looked at us to find out our story, and we never would have gotten this building.
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT THE SBTDC? I’d worked with them back in my AAA days, so when I opened Barringer I naturally planned to call. Then when I saw an article in the newspaper about Byron’s work with the SBTDC, I picked up the phone. This wasn’t long after we started out and his positive attitude and wealth of knowledge were a relief. And the fact that he has been through our same issues as an entrepreneur himself makes all the difference. We really appreciate that it isn’t just a one-time deal. He’ll be there as we continue to grow and continue to have questions.
This story was originally published in the SBTDC 2015-2016 Annual Report. View the entire report here.
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The SBIR grant assistance is the most valuable thing the SBTDC has provided. Receiving the SBIR funding is what allowed us to move forward and we’ve actually been able to win three grants, although we had to turn one down. They have provided much needed advice on business development and we have also paired up with several student interns for marketing analysis.
The SBTDC takes the fear away. Now I look at my financials and I understand them. Similar to my kayaking analogy, I can now hit my roll and plot my downriver course with confidence. I’m by no means a pro, and I still have a lot of questions. But I’m in there every month, and I know where I’m going to be at the end of the year. We’ve already hit our projections for the end of 2016; our gross revenues are up 20%. And we’ve just added two new employees.