Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday... Frank Beamer was Virginia Tech’s new football coach, George H.W. Bush was president, gas was only $1.08 a gallon, and the world had only 5.1 billion people (vs. 7.6 billion now). Those were different times.
Thirty years ago, Virginia Varsity Transfer, Inc. was founded by two college students of meager means. We lacked many things, namely: experience, startup capital, customers, employees, an office, trucks or equipment. Nevertheless, we headed to the Roanoke County government offices on May 25, 1988, applied for and received a business license. This $30 investment represented endless possibilities to us.
With our considerable limitations, the two things that we did have were: 1) a vision, and 2) our youth.
At the time, Roanoke Valley moving companies mostly fell into one of two groups- large, impersonal corporations and smaller, limited moving services. We felt we could do moving better. We felt that clean-cut, student-athletes providing a better service at a better price was a winning combination. Our vision was to create an attractive “middle” moving option delivered by great, local people with the capabilities of the largest companies. The rest, we felt, we could learn.
By starting in college, we were in our physical primes. And, as importantly, so were our friends. Our buddies became our first employees. It was our feeling that younger, athletic types were far better suited to the physical demands of moving. Add in a great, positive attitude, and we knew our customers would find this option a better choice. And so, for years, we were on the front lines, doing the moves ourselves, working weekends, and traveling all over the country to set the standard and get the business off the ground.
Though we had a business license, we had no customers. Our first ‘marketing’ was a comically simple, self-typed flyer that we distributed to the local real estate offices. Only one or two responses came from this effort, but it was a start. Our primary marketing in the early days (and remains so today) was word-of-mouth. This was for two reasons.
First, we knew that we had only one shot to build a reputation in an industry that already had a negative perception. Any missteps, when we scarcely had any customers to begin with, could quickly doom our fragile enterprise through word-of-mouth. Alternatively, we needed our customers to be so thrilled with the experience, that they would enthusiastically spread the word. Which is exactly what happened. These first customers told others, and more business followed. It was a slow, organic process, but we could see it happening. Those first customers, and the Realtors who referred us, became the seeds from which the Virginia Varsity of today germinated.
Secondly, we had minimal financial resources to remedy a catastrophic claim or mistake. We simply could not have survived a major misstep in the earliest days, so we operated out of both an obsession to please and a hyper-vigilance of not making mistakes. This initial customer focus became ingrained in our corporate DNA and remains our cornerstone principle today.
We have traveled an amazing, 30-year journey that has provided endless stories, lessons, and experiences. There have been great challenges and wonderful milestones. We have made mistakes and benefited from the grace of many. We have helped wonderful people through both difficult and exciting life changes. These relationships and experiences have been blessings for us all and made our lives richer and more fulfilling.
We have a 30-year Virginia Varsity family that has provided a lifetime of special relationships and connections. The enormous contributions of our amazing team members- both past and current- in serving our customers and community are indescribable. We will forever be indebted to the key mentors, company friends, supporters and advisers who took an interest in us and gave us a chance. We are here today because so many people have contributed and left their mark at Virginia Varsity Transfer. For this, we are deeply grateful and excited for the future to come.