Melanie Bergeron is past Chair of the International Franchise Association Board of Directors and Chair of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK, the fastest-growing moving company in the U.S.
TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® started in a ’67 Ford pickup truck during the early 1980s by Mary Ellen Sheets, a single working Mom, and her two teenage sons, Jon Sorber and Brig Sorber. Jon and Brig began the business by hauling trash in their old, used pickup truck.
Mary Ellen eventually invested $350 in a used bread delivery truck, the only money she had at the time, which ended up being the only personal money she ever invested into the business.
In 1987 Mary Ellen convinced her daughter Melanie Bergeron, who was a pharmaceutical representative living in Atlanta, to open a TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® moving business. She did, and the business took off! People seemed to love the name, and they certainly needed the service. Mary Ellen and Melanie quickly realized the moving trucks served as moving billboards for their business.
Because of the success in Lansing, Mich., and Atlanta, Ga., Mary Ellen decided to franchise the business.
In the early ‘90s Melanie moved back to the Detroit area and started another TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise. In 1994, Mary Ellen asked Melanie to become president of the franchise company so she could pursue a career in politics. One catch: there was no pay, as the franchise company didn’t have any money.
While the franchisees were making money, at the time, the corporate headquarters was not. Melanie took a quick inventory of the situation. Mary Ellen had grown the company to 36 locations with the help of one part-time woman in the office. Mary Ellen, Melanie, and the two original men, Jon and Brig, each owned their own franchise location and at that time, Mary Ellen was operating out of the attic of an old house in Lansing.
Melanie accepted the president position with a passion to help grow the family business. She quickly realized she had a bigger problem than no money, no staff, and no time: she didn’t understand the franchise business model and how it worked. She had no way of researching it, as this was the before the Internet; she didn’t know anyone in franchising; and she was unaware of any franchise books.
Like a perfectly timed blessing, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® received a grant from the State of Michigan to pay for one year of consulting services from Deloitte and Touche. The State of Michigan was trying to create additional jobs and, rightly so, saw franchising as a solution! Deloitte and Touche taught Melanie everything there was to know about franchising – marketing, support, franchise relations, communication and… budgeting! One reason TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® didn’t have money is that they were not charging enough for royalties; so the royalty was bumped from 4 to 6%. The Deloitte and Touche consultant explained that, quite often, women do not charge enough for their goods and services.
The company quickly became financially stronger after this shift.
After the year with Deloitte and Touche, Melanie thirsted for more franchise knowledge. Mary Ellen had signed them up for the IFA (International Franchise Association) in 1993, but they didn’t attend their first convention until 1999. In Melanie’s words, “It was like a fresh glass of water in the desert; I received a fire hose of information and haven’t missed a convention since.”
During Melanie’s leadership, the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® core values were established, which are still embraced by the entire system today. These core values include Care, Integrity, Give Back to the Community, The Grandma Rule (treat everyone as if they were your Grandma – with dignity, respect, and patience), Inclusion, and Be Your Best and Have Fun!
Over the years, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® has continued to grow and thrive. Melanie’s brother Brig Sorber now serves as CEO, and led the company through a restructuring in 2008. He took the company from a legacy-managed company to executive-managed – a very daunting task that has served the company well.
Today the company remains privately held by Mary Ellen Sheets, Melanie Bergeron, Brig Sorber, and Jon Sorber. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® is now the fastest-growing moving company in the nation, with more than 324 locations, 2,100 trucks, and an international presence in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The company hit more than $360 million in revenue during 2014, and has a 2015 revenue goal of $414 million. The company has collectively given more than $2 million to charity since its inception. TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®’s charity of choice (voted on by the franchisees) is the American Cancer Society, and the system donates 10 cents from each move to the cause, donating more than $500,000 to-date.
To learn more about TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, visit www.twomenandatruck.com.
For more information about IFA and franchising in general, visit the IFA’s website at franchise.org.