On the Move
A Perfect Move finds a niche helping clients cut waste
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an estimated 37.1 million Americans move every year. And anyone who has ever had to transfer belongings from one place to another—be it across town or across the country—knows that the process often entails a lot of waste. From cardboard boxes to long-forgotten trinkets and heirlooms, no move is really complete without a trip or two to the landfill or a curb full of refuse.
It is a problem that Genevieve Benton desperately wanted to address when she launched A Perfect Move in October 2007. After 25 years of working in the moving industry, Benton—a New Hampshire native who spent time in South Carolina before moving back to the Seacoast area—wanted to forge a unique and waste-conscious niche in the super-competitive moving industry. A true family affair, A Perfect Move’s business team includes daughter Erin O’Connell and son James.
Initially, the York-based company specialized in assisting senior citizens, a demographic Benton contends provides a unique challenge. Many seniors tackle the daunting task of downsizing, moving from their previous, larger homes to more comfortable, accessible abodes. In so doing, these customers need help deciding what to take and what to leave behind. Enter Benton, who has made it her calling to collect the discarded items. She finds them a home with relatives or loved ones, sells them to antique dealers, or gives them to thrift stores. She works with a network of appraisers to help generate money from valuables like antiques and stamp collections.
“We sort of found our niche in that respect,” says Benton, reflecting on her business’s earliest days. “Instead of leaving a lot of these unique things to rot away in a landfill or in some stranger’s basement, we find ways to use them all over again.”
While A Perfect Move still provides their decidedly hands-on service to seniors, they have expanded to include a growing list of clients both residential and commercial and to provide international shipping options. As with their senior clients, any customer’s unwanted items are often donated to local thrift stores, a free service that won the company recognition as Fair Tide of Kittery’s Business of the Year in 2009. Fair Tide, a short-term affordable housing program, runs a thrift store for recycling, job training, and volunteerism.
“Customers actually seek us out because they know we donate to Fair Tide,” Benton notes. “There’s a peace of mind that comes from knowing your stuff won’t just end up in a landfill, and I think that can be a draw for those who are looking to downsize.”
Meanwhile, anything that is not donated, sold, or moved—things such as scrap metal, cardboard, paper materials, and the like—is sent off to Aggregate Recycling Corporation in Eliot, Maine, to be dealt with properly.
That takes care of the actual belongings. But what about all those boxes? Again, the Bentons employ a truly cradle-to-grave policy of reduce, reuse, and recycle, with every box they purchase being made at least partly from recycled materials. Moreover, the company will deliver free reused boxes and packing paper right to your door. They only ask you let them pick up the supplies once your move is complete, so they can be reused again.
“A lot of moving companies just toss cardboard boxes and packing materials into the dumpster after one use,” Benton says. “But we’ve never had to rent a dumpster.”
For Benton, it is a policy that not only benefits the earth but saves customers money as well. “We couldn’t offer moving supplies for free if they weren’t reused,” she says.
A Perfect Move has also adopted a decidedly green approach to office management. Just about all of the furniture at the family’s office has been reclaimed from local thrift stores, and recycling bins for paper, glass, and plastic are located in easy-to-find locations. Erin O’Connell in particular is so adamant about greening the office that she purchases all-natural cleaning supplies for it. In an effort to promote their growing green and community-oriented initiatives, in 2009 the company joined Green Alliance, a “green business union,” which helps raise the profile of sustainability-minded businesses throughout the region.
The company is heavily involved in the local community, hosting fundraisers for a number of community groups and non-profit organizations, including Dover Womenaid, York Community Service Association, Homemakers Health Services, Fair Tide, Cape Neddick Wildlife Refuge, and the Seacoast Breakfast Exchange Club, a volunteer organization serving Seacoast seniors in need. Routinely, A Perfect Move holds fundraisers such as pie-bake auctions and other raffles at its York headquarters, where Benton rolls out samples of her homemade Southern fare. These events started as a way to invite colleagues to a relaxing lunch, but the crew soon realized that the fundraisers provided much-needed exposure for local organizations.
“By breaking bread with us, we felt our business associates would get to know us and trust us,” Benton says about the fundraisers. “At the end of the day, we want everyone to consider us friends as much as family, and we’ve made plenty of both by putting on these events.”
Despite a tough economy, A Perfect Move has managed to turn their unique green approach into actual, tangible growth. This past March, the company relocated its headquarters to the Kittery Traffic Circle. Additionally, the team launched a new thrift store, Gentiques, a non-profit enterprise that sells discarded, unwanted antiques and other items. The proceeds go to a range of local causes, including D.A.R.E, the Hope Project, Breast Cancer Stories, the Police Benevolent Association, Seacoast Mental Health Center, Footprints Food Pantry, and the earlier-mentioned groups and nonprofits.
A Perfect Move’s commitment to community and green practices is impressive, but at the end of the day, what separates them from the pack—and what customers actually see—is their overarching commitment to customer service.
“We’ve always known our crew is professional, courteous, and well trained, but as a consumer I would expect that,” Benton says. “We really go out of our way to cover all the bases and assure that, when we leave, our customers know we truly cared about them and their belongings.”