Charles L. Ewing Sr.
Ewing Moving Service Inc.
When Charles Ewing began his moving service in 1980, all he had was a pickup truck and the desire to earn extra income. Now, Ewing Moving Service has Memphis and Nashville locations, thousands of square feet of warehouse space, and about $3 million in annual revenue.
“That’s a long way from a pickup truck,” Ewing says.
Ewing was working as a journeyman engraver for The Commercial Appeal when his supervisor recommended him to help a company executive move from the Sycamore View area to downtown. Ewing and another man used his pickup to transport an entire apartment’s worth of household goods up eight flights of stairs, all with no prior moving experience. The executive, an advertising and marketing manager, was impressed with Ewing’s work.
“He gave me two tips — one, that I was good and needed to go into the moving business, and, two, he gave $75 more than I asked for,” Ewing recalls. “He said, ‘Don’t charge anybody less than $125.’”
So, between various duties for his full-time employer, doing everything from shoe shining to bailing waste paper in the newspaper’s pressroom, Ewing began advertising his moving services on the side. Between posting his offerings in a free shopper publication and tacking business cards up on bulletin boards, he soon had requests coming in for moving work.
“I would get all of the moves lined up on my off days,” he says.
Sometimes he would use his truck or would rent U-Hauls that he was able to secure at a discounted weekend rate through a relative.
This went on steadily until 1985. That’s the year Ewing bought his first moving van. “All of the money I made on my moving business, I reinvested, and I lived on my paycheck.”
From then on, his main goal was to buy a new moving van each year. By 1993, he was able to leave his Commercial Appeal job and focus solely on the company.
“The business kept growing, and as I started to see the business grow, I started learning more about the industry, and the more I learned about it, the more I knew I could grow the business,” he says.
Networking also helped speed things along. Through the years, Ewing has served on various boards and credits that with helping generate contracts. Some of his largest clients include FedEx, the Tennessee Valley Authority, International Paper, the University of Memphis, the Memphis Grizzlies (his company helped move the NBA team from Vancouver to Memphis in 2001), and a host of others locally and elsewhere. Ewing has been involved with Electrolux’s move to Memphis this last year as well.
Ewing also attributes his success to the family atmosphere he has fostered at his company. “We support and depend upon each other.”
Name: Charles L. Ewing Sr.
Company: Ewing Moving Service Inc.
Address: 4006 Air Park Street
Services Provided: Local and long-distance moving and storage for residential and commercial clients
How Long With Company: Since the beginning
number of Employees: 57 (some seasonal)
What makes a good CEO: “A good CEO has the ability to find the quality in people and maximize it, because it’s all about people. You can be as sharp as you want, but if you can’t convince people to believe in you, you won’t get very far.”