Two Men and a Truck…Headed toward $1 Billion
Brig Sorber, the former President, CEO, and current Executive Chairman of Two Men and Truck, never attended business school or even took a business course in college.
“God uses the most crazy fools to get things done,” said Sorber, 54, a member of Legatus’ Lansing, Michigan Chapter who noted the Church began with 12 blue-collar men from a backwater province in the Roman Empire.
From College-Try to National Force
With hard work and a dedication to building the company on biblical principles and philanthropy, Two Men and a Truck has grown from a small business that Sorber and his brother Jon started in college to one of the most vibrant and dynamic moving companies in the United States.
Today, Two Men and a Truck has experienced more than 88 months of consecutive growth and has 347 locations worldwide. The Lansing-based company has 2,600 trucks and completes more than 500,000 moves a year. Every minute of every day, Two Men and a Truck completes three moves.
“We figure by 2021, we’ll be a billion-dollar company,” Sorber said.
The company began in the early 1980s with an old 1966 pickup truck and a hand-drawn logo of two stick figures in a truck. Brig and Jon, looking to earn some spending money, placed an ad in a local shopping guide that read “Men At Work Movers…Two Men and a Truck.” The ad included the stick figure logo, designed on a napkin by the Sorber brothers’ mother, Mary Ellen Sheets.
Sprung from a Mother’s Heart
When Brig left home to attend Northern Michigan University, Sheets decided to quit her job and run the business full-time. She shortened the company name to “Two Men and a Truck” and kept the logo. She worked on the business for two years, never paying herself anything and living on Ramen noodles.
“If you ask her now, she’ll say that was the best time of her life,” Sorber said. “This business would not be here if it wasn’t for her.” When she made her first $1,000, Sheets did not keep the cash for herself. She divided the money into ten $100 checks and gave them to ten different charities. The word got out in Lansing about what Sheets was doing with her profits.
“Everyone then wanted to support this business that was supporting the community,” Sorber said. “It really flew against business practices, but to see a business give away all the money it made in its first year kind of set the tone.”
Sheets’ charitable actions inspired the company’s motto, “Movers Who Care.” It also established a precedent that the business still follows. Ten cents from every move is donated to the American Cancer Society. The company has donated more than $570,000 to ACS. Since 2007, the company has also conducted an annual campaign called Movers for Moms to collect essential care items for local women’s shelters.
“My mother has a servant’s heart. She likes to take care of people and she likes to make them feel better,” said Melanie Bergeron, the Sorber brothers’ sister who opened the first Two Men and a Truck franchise in Atlanta, GA.
Bergeron, the chairwoman of the company’s board of directors, noted that the business has maintained its devotion to charitable endeavors after more than 30 years of economic and leadership changes. She said the Golden Rule is at the heart of the company’s core values. “And putting God first, our core values continue to be implemented from people at the top all the way through our company, to our movers through to our customers,” Bergeron said.
Seeking First the Things of God…
Visiting the company’s Lansing headquarters will give anyone a good idea of what, or rather who, the company is based on. Every week, a Bible study is held in the corporate offices. Near the main entrance, the Ten Commandments are etched in concrete.
“Those are there as a reminder of what drives this company,” Sorber said. “We really try to use biblical principles as far as giving back and taking care of the most needy.”
“It’s a reminder every time you walk through the front door of who you’re’ working for, what’s important and what the rules are,” Bergeron said. “’It’s not just about making money. It’s about taking care of people and doing the right thing.”
Sorber and his siblings did not grow up attending church but they came to faith later in life. For Brig Sorber, his faith journey, which would lead him to the Catholic Church, took an important turn in college when he met his future wife, Francine, a devout Catholic who grew up in a large family and had to pay her own way through college. Though she had adversity in life, Francine had an inner peace that intrigued Sorber.
“I thought, ‘I want that. I want that peace,’” said Sorber, who began attending Mass with Francine in college and reading the Bible and whatever Christian author’s works he could get his hands on. He noticed that his worldview was changing and his faith in God deepening.
“I became a better person, more productive and happier having Christ in my life,” Sorber said. “I rolled that into the business when I took over, and I watched God work in this business. I mean, we’re a moving company for crying out loud.”
…Then Following His Lead
Sorber and his siblings see God’s hand at work in guiding the company through the 2008 meltdown of the mortgage industry, which could have spelled doom for the moving company. At that time, Two Men and a Truck, as Bergero described it, was “fat and happy,” with a lot of wasteful spending and inefficient business practices.
‘I would just come in and pray over this business, ‘God, what are we going to do in your business today?” said Sorber. “And the direction he took me was no direction any business person would take.”
Sorber made the difficult decision to let go of 20 employees. He not only used his local connections to help them find new jobs, but Sorber also used $250,000 of the $300,000 the company had in the bank for severance payments.
“No business man in his right mind would do that during a recession,” Sorber said. “But that’s what weighed on my heart. I said, ‘God, we’re going to do this and I’m putting my faith in you in this business, and if we go under, I know I didn’t cheat anybody.’”
Sorber later hired new people and reworked some one-sided business agreements that ended up saving the company more money than what it had given out in severance payments.
“God will find those savings and that’s when I started trusting him more and more,” Sorber said.
Of course, Two Men and a Truck has a 96 percent referral rate because its truck drivers and movers do a good job, not just because of Christian values or charitable works.
“Really in the end, if we’re a bad moving company, people won’t care what we do in the community, they’re not gonna use us,” said Sorber, adding that the company is constantly looking to evolve and innovate. He mentioned one new initiative, called Value Flex, aimed at giving customers more affordable options for long-distance moves.
“It’s just amazing how God worked in this business and made it what it is now,” Sorber said. “I am just humbled by it every single day.”
BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.