Article originally appeared in Suddath company newsletter, LiFT, May 2015)
It is often said that life’s best lessons are learned the hard way. No one would
agree more than office moving pioneer and industry veteran Ed Katz. Desiring
more professional accreditation in the commercial office moving sector, Katz
founded the International Office Moving Institute (IOMI) in 1987 to offer vital training programs in office moving and project management methods, techniques and business best practices. Dubbed the "world's only university of office moving," IOMI is an independent, unbiased training organization dedicated to raising the moving industry's image by educating both professionals and consumers.
Suddath has partnered with IOMI for the past ten years and has had approximately 500 employees become certified through the intensive training sessions. The customized three-day class, taught to only one company at a time, contains extensive information and training on sales, estimating and operations to ensure that IOMI certified movers are functioning at their highest capacity—for the company and the client.
Katz was especially impressed when our chairman of the board, Steve Suddath, took one of the very first training classes held here. “It clearly indicated to all employees, that Suddath was going to implement the key principles and methods of the IOMI program and be a leader in the commercial office moving industry,” recounted Katz. “This certification signifies to clients, companies and employees alike that Suddath values expert training and investment in its people and policies.”
With significant growth through various acquisitions during the past five years, a priority was established for new employees to become IOMI certified office movers, an important step in the process to achieve a meeting of the minds in sales and operational performance. Staying true to this goal, in March of this year, Katz conducted another IOMI training class of 24 Suddath employees from across the country at the SWS corporate headquarters in Jacksonville. “Suddath is committed to training, to IOMI and to Ed. Ed standardizes the estimating process by simplifying it,” explains Bob Papuga, senior vice president of Suddath Workplace Solutions. “Every Suddath graduate can produce a proposal and execute an office relocation in the same way. This is invaluable to our national customers and has proven to be a key differentiator in the marketplace.”
Katz draws on his dry sense of humor and many years of moving experience to create a class that none will soon forget. Acting as part trainer and part therapist, Katz’s classes cover everything from basic office moving skills to effectively managing clients and potentially negative situations. During the training, participants actively participate in role play and Q&A sessions to gain the necessary skills for success in dealing with customers in all situations.
While it is widely known that moving is one of life’s most stressful events for homeowners; moving a business with multiple employees and critical technology can be just as daunting. Katz says the number one goal is “to keep the customer happy.” His next goal is to make sure no one is hurt in the process and workers are protected. Many of the proprietary methods and best practices he teaches are borne out of mistakes during his forty years in the industry. For example, Katz instructs that every team member on a job, alert a supervisor and coworker whenever they must use the restroom. He recounts that during one office move many years ago, in the era before cell phones, a mover became trapped in a freight elevator for several hours before anyone noticed he was missing. While extreme, this is just one example of the many factors that can affect productivity and efficiency—and ultimately, a company’s bottom line.