From left to right: Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Grafton deButts, American Moving and Storage Association CEO Scott Michael, Loudoun County Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian), JK Moving Services CEO Chuck Kuhn, Department of Economic Development Director Buddy Rizer, Sheriff Mike Chapman, and Commissioner of the Revenue Bob Wertz.
One of Nation’s Largest Independent Movers Expands in Loudoun County
Chuck Kuhn was in eighth grade when his family had a bad experience with the crew of a moving company. The family moved abroad and the memory lingered.
When Kuhn returned to the U.S., he and his brother went to work for his uncle’s small moving company in Maryland. He worked there for three years, saved up his earnings, got a $5,000 loan from his uncle, and opened his own moving company.
Kuhn was 16, and named it JK Moving Services. The initials are those of his father, for whom he has great admiration.
Within four years, Kuhn’s brother, father and mother were working for the company too, his parents having retired from Bell Atlantic.
Now, 36 years later, JK Moving Services is the second largest independent moving companies in the country and the largest on the east coast, with Kuhn as its president and CEO.
On Jan. 18, Kuhn dedicated the company’s new, 75,000 square-foot warehouse in Sterling. He was joined by local business, community and political leaders to celebrate this milestone. The company already has about 600,000 square feet of warehouse space in Loudoun County along with 80,000 square feet in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is in the process of securing space in the Baltimore, Maryland, area too.
“This building to you looks like a warehouse, but to us it looks like continued growth,” Kuhn said. “To the county, it should look like 150 new jobs for Loudoun County.”
JK Moving Services provides residential, commercial and international moving services. The company also provides storage for corporate records and document shredding, and operates a relocation services arm. All but the latter are branded under the JK name.
Moving is big business in the U.S., and the industry is divided between small number of large, national, agent network franchisees, and independents. Interviewed by The Tribune, Kuhn said the trend is toward consolidation and co-ownership, and that the nationwide franchisee model gets about 95 percent of the national and international, long distance moving business.
“We’re completely different,” said Kuhn. “The independent model is almost opposite of the agent network approach, and that makes us more accountable to our customers.”
Key differences include the drivers, the tractors and the trailers.
“When you call JK, you will get one of our trucks, drivers, crews and trailers,” Kuhn said.
He contrasted that with the network model, where drivers are independent owner-operators who may also own the tractor they drive. They don’t own the trailer though, which most likely is not owned by the local franchisee either. The trailers, like the drivers, travel the nation, following the jobs.
“We own our own equipment, we do our own work, and everyone is an employee of the company,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn said most of the network model is devoted to the residential market, though he acknowledges that some local franchises strive to offer local commercial moves. For Kuhn, commercial is a major part of the business, and JK Moving Services has become the largest commercial office moving company on the east coast, and possibly the nation.
Commercial services include records archives, shredding as well as moving and storage of furnishings. They are typically larger projects than residential ones, are competitively bid, and have smaller profit margins, Kuhn said.
JK Moving Services employs about 815 people, and Kuhn said the new warehouse would foster more management and executive-level jobs, as well as crew positions.
The warehouse will mostly store residential and commercial customer belongings, JK Moving Vice President Rebecca Chanin said. Kuhn said he expected it to be filled by the end of the month.
JK Moving Services also has plans to create a new campus at Route 606 and 28 in Sterling. Chanin said the company expects to break ground on the 45 acre parcel in the next couple months. The location will be the company’s new headquarters and will be include administrative offices, more warehouses and truck parking.
Kuhn thanked the county Department of Economic Development and the Board of Supervisors for their support, which he said helped JK Moving Services expand in Loudoun.
Supervisor Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) and Loudoun Chamber of Commerce Director of Membership Grafton deButts presented Kuhn with awards for JK Moving Services’ investment in the community.
Volpe, who moved frequently while growing up with parents who worked for the State Department, shared an anecdote with the crowd.
“When I told my parents I was coming to this, my mother said ‘JK Moving, they are so awesome. They’re the only ones who never broke something, never lost something, and they showed up on time,'” Volpe said.
“That’s what we strive to do every time,” said Kuhn.
Kuhn’s approach to business has paid off in more than growth and customer satisfaction. The company has averaged a 25 percent compounded annual growth rate for the past 35 years.