A growing business helping people downsize

Terry Brown of Crate It Storage and Relocate Stress Free talks about the variety of ways they can help people deal with life changes

Terry Brown is president of Crate It Storage and Relocate Stress Free Inc.

Terry Brown

What is Crate It Storage and what does it do?

Brown: Crate It Storage is a storage service for our clients who have smaller storage needs. It’s a pickup and delivery service, warehouse type storage and where the client only pays for the space they use.

When helping our clients declutter or downsize, they sometimes need to store a few items that they can’t take to their new home or can’t part with, but aren’t enough for a self storage unit or container.

We also clean out estate houses and sometimes there are a few things that require temporary storage until they have probate.

It’s really not designed for the larger items, like large sectional couches, dining room hutches, pianos, etc. Most of the items we store are put on shelving or skids. If there’s enough storage items to fill a 10-by-10 self-storage unit or a storage container, we always recommend doing that first. We always assess the situation and give the client the best storage solution we can.

We also have fire-proof storage for documents. We have a few companies that require document storage and we have a retrieval system in place when they need a file. We can’t handle thousands of document boxes but we can handle document storage for the smaller businesses.

When and why did you start this company?

Brown: Crate It Storage was formed due to our clients’ needs. When we started loading containers for our clients, sometimes there were a few things left over that didn’t fit into the container and there wasn’t enough to book another container. They didn’t have anywhere else to store them, so we offered to store them temporarily until they needed them, which we soon called overflow items.

Well it got so that not only did we fill up our rental garage with these overflow items, we were now starting to fill up our personal garage just to help our clients out. So Crate It Storage was formed.

We leased a climate-controlled warehouse for these overflow items. And now we not only store overflow items, we store items for estates, businesses and private clients needing climate-controlled storage for those few items that don’t require a larger storage space.

What is Relocate Stress Free and what does it do?

Brown: Relocate is many things. We’re a full-service moving company. We can pack up an entire house and move everything to another house. We also help our clients downsize, get their home ready for sale, move a parent into a senior residence or clean out an entire house due to an estate.

We help our clients find the best moving and storage solution for their needs. Whether the client is moving across the city, out of town, across the country or internationally, we will make sure we help them. If we can’t physically help them, we’ll find and recommend a reputable company that will.

When helping with an estate, we come up with the best cost-efficient solution to empty the house. We handle items that need to be sold, donated, stored, recycled or disposed of at the landfill, or shipped or delivered to family members. And we look after the property until it’s sold or rented, including snow removal, lawn care, handyman jobs and visits for insurance purposes. We want to try to look after everything for the executor or power of attorney.

When and why did you start this company?

Brown: I started the business in 2005. I lost my divorced parents within eight months of each other; they lived in another city. I had two homes to deal with when they passed. I was emotionally drained from losing them when they were so young and trying to figure out how to do what needed to be done in another city. I have a brother in Florida who wasn’t able to help. I realized that there was a need to help people such as myself when faced with this overwhelming task of handling an estate.

My professional background was in the financial industry, so I had lots of experience with elderly clients with estate and financial planning. It seemed like a good fit.

So I started my little senior-downsizing-moving service. It was tough in the beginning, but eventually people started to know about us and the business evolved from there. I was used to sales and marketing, so I put a plan in place. First booking presentations to all the trust companies, estate lawyers and senior homes, and joining networking groups. Before long, we had most of the trust companies using our services. With the trust companies, our job was to make the trust officers’ job easier and save them time.

Estate lawyers were referring us to their clients  and we made connections with a number of senior homes that use us exclusively. Then we started to get calls from realtors who said they needed someone to help their clients declutter and get their homes ready for sale.

The one realtor said the client needed a portable container (or pod) and could we load it? Well, once we loaded that, I thought well, if we can load that pod, why can’t we offer our loading services to all the pod clients? So I had a meeting with pod companies and we became their pack and load company for pods. From there, I went to all the other container companies and now we load for MI-BOX and some of the other container companies.

How has business been for you considering the economic challenges the city has faced over the last few years?

Brown: Our company is pretty well recession proof. People are still moving, downsizing or passing away. We are well diversified so that when one area of business is slower, we seem to get busy in another area. The only area that probably affected us with the economic challenges would have been the moving and container business. People were shopping around and looking for cheaper moving services or they rent a moving truck and move themselves or load their containers.

The renovation business has picked up as more people are fixing up their homes instead of moving. For the renovation business, we’re called to move things around in their home or load everything into a container.

The estate business is what it is, when we’re needed, we’re there to help. We’re recognized for that service.

Our senior service has grown. In most cases, there’s a house of contents left that needs to be dealt with after we move them.

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business

moving storage

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