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All About The Major Moving Companies and Shippers

Aug 17, 2007
Billions of dollars in personal and business belongings are shipped across North America every year. Huge volumes of furniture, equipment and personal effects are packed and forwarded to locations across the country. Moving services are offered by thousands of small moving companies, some of which are affiliated with the major moving and van line companies. Those moving companies that are affiliated with, or are members of a major Van Line company, have access to a large network of associates and shared service offerings.

Large Van Line companies such as United Van Lines, Atlas Van Lines, Allied Van Lines and National Van Lines could have significant branding, marketing and financial power to capture moving referrals and contracts.

When you contact one these major carriers for your move and they refer you to one of their affiliates, the Van Line firm will take a percentage commission on your move. To avoid the fees, you will have to search for a moving company directly. Some large unassociated local moving companies have resources and services that rival those of the big Van Lines companies. You shouldn't always think that these companies can't offer the quality and type of service you need. However, those independent firms may also do work for the big Van Lines network. The major carriers control a huge portion of moving done in the US and work is parceled out to affiliated local movers called agents. For instance, a Boston moving company named Humboldt Storage and Moving is an agent serving the Boston Massachusetts area.

United Van Lines

Perhaps no bigger brand name in moving and shipping exists than that of United Van Lines. The company formed in 1933 is now the world's largest association of moving companies in the world. United had its first billion dollar revenue year in 1992. The company has its headquarters St. Louis, Missouri, and maintains a network of 1,000 affiliated agencies in 135 countries around the world. There are Boston United Van Lines moving companies and in San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago and New York. There are 500 in total in the US. The last few years has seen their revenues grow significantly. Migration in the United States and Canada has been at a very high level.

United Van Lines is ranked number one in moving services marketshare and its subsidiary, Mayflower, was ranked number 3 according to the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

United Van Line's vision of itself is never to be a follower. This moving company sees itself as the premier association of movers in the world and its standards are high. United has a city points program that offers free information on: destinations, a network of real estate agents, temporary housing, mortgage assistance, and even cash reimbursements on the customer's home sale. That's quite an incentive to use United Van Lines network of movers.

The company also owns Total Transportation Services Inc., which sells or leases everything from advertising specialties to rolling stock; Vanliner Group Inc. which specializes in insurance for moving and storage concerns; UniGroup Worldwide Inc. which moves families, executives or high value product Internationally; and InSite Logistics manages the accumulation and installation of hotel furniture and other complex projects. Thirty percent of United Van Line's business is moving high value product: photo finishing machines, trade show displays, switches for telecom companies, and things that need specialized inside delivery and air ride equipment. The company also has moving contracts with an estimated 80% of all Fortune 500 companies.

Atlas Van Lines

Atlas Van Lines ranked as the fourth largest moving services firm, is a moving company created in 1948 from a network of 33 local moving companies in Indiana. Its head office is in Evansville, Indiana. It has more than 800 agents worldwide. Atlas reported revenues of almost $950 Million in 2005. It offers a full range of domestic moving services and is ISO 9001:2000 certified.

National Van Lines

The second largest moving van line operator in the US is National Van Lines. It is a privately held corporation located in Broadview Illinois. Its subsidiary National Forwarding Company is a full service interstate van line specializing in COD, National Account, and General Service Administration (GSA) household goods shipments. It is a leader in military moving.

Whether you hire a national van line company or a local mover for your next relocation, you'll want to consider their reputation and the range of service they can offer. These companies are composed of the individual moving companies that do the actual work for them. Don't be fooled by the image. The brand is just a promise, and as many people who have moved have told, the brand can take a bruising when it's all said and done. There's no insurance available for a disappointing, stressful move.

Do your research to find a good moving company. Ideally you want a reputable independent moving company that you can deal with directly. Getting lost in the Van Lines bureaucracy can lead to some insecurity. However, if the independent mover is part of a large Van Line network, they may possess the integrity and quality you're seeking.

Local movers that have no one to answer to, may not be inclined to meet with your approval or real needs. The risk of lost or damaged goods rises as well. The Van Lines companies do ensure that their operators or agents meet quality guidelines and live up to their contractual obligations. It's one time when cheap is a dirty word.
About the Author
Humboldt Moving provides moving services in the New England area. From Boston to Hartford to Concord, Humboldt is a moving company offering storage, packing, logistics and moving planning, and relocation services.
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