Marshall Moving Services
- story by Ellis Anderson
Marshall Hoffman is a man on the move.
His determination to build Marshall Moving Services was evident his first year in business. In those early days, Hoffman still worked full-time at Stennis Space Center in addition to starting up his moving company. He’d get off late at night, grab five hours’ sleep, work out, then work out again on a moving job, until it was time to report back to Stennis.
Occasional fatigue didn’t lower his standards for himself or the crew that works with him. Hoffman understands that being the best at what you do is the surest path to success.
A Bay St. Louis native and a graduate of Bay High, Hoffman worked his way through college at Southern in Hattiesburg. He learned the moving trade from Nick Kolinsky, a Golden Eagles football legend in the 1960s and owner of popular tavern Nick’s Ice House, who also owned a moving company. Hoffman stayed with Kolinsky’s company until he graduated, learning the business from the ground up.
Kolinsky’s health was failing, but his son Buddy held to the strict standards for perfection his father had set. One of the things Hoffman noticed was the way the Kolinskys did little marketing; most business came to them from referrals. He also learned the importance of punctuality and how much cleanliness and courtesy mattered.
In 2015, Hoffman graduated from USM with a degree in criminal justice. He returned to the coast, was hired on at Stennis, and worked a second job as a bartender.
The new business was born when Dave Hubbard of Hubbard’s Hardware in Waveland asked if Hoffman could help him with a move. Dave had been unable to find a full-service local company that would pack his belongings as well as move him.
Marshall put together a crew and went to work. The team packed boxes, broke down equipment, spackled holes in walls and even swept up when they were through. Hubbard was so impressed, he recommended the recent graduate to friends and customers. Who recommended the mover to others. Business began to boom. Hoffman quit the bartending gig.
But the phone didn’t ring for two weeks. No moving jobs came in. Not one. Hoffman was beginning to think he’d made a grave mistake when the dam broke and the jobs started pouring in.
Since then, the schedule has stayed full, seven days a week. The Marshall Moving formula of going over the top for customers builds loyalty as it creates more business.
Local realtor Holly Lemoine-Raymond has become one of Hoffman’s biggest fans.
“We refer local services to our customers all the time,” says Holly. “All kinds of homeowner services. Everyone seems happy, but we rarely hear back from them. Except when we started recommending Marshall Moving. Now we have clients calling to tell us how happy they are after using Marshall.”
Hoffman realized he’d need to get certain business essentials in place at the very beginning if he wanted it to thrive and expand. So he sought out — through referrals, of course — Kristie Buddenbaum of Bloom, LLC. Bloom specializes in small business development, websites and branding.
Hoffman had a generic name in mind for the company, but the two decided to go with his first name instead.
“We could have just called it something like “Nice Movers,’” says Hoffman, smiling. “But it’s my name now, which means I stand behind our work 100 percent.”
Hoffman’s British Lab, Ziggy, represented the traits that the young businessman wanted to encapsulate, so Kristie incorporated a profile of the dog’s head into the company logo.
“Ziggy’s hardworking, loyal, and well-behaved. You can count on him,” Hoffman says. “That’s the whole idea behind my company.”
Kristie takes on administrative duties for a small number of her clients, and Marshall Moving became one of them. She’s now the company’s business manager, handling all the behind-the-scenes paperwork. The arrangement has freed up Hoffman to focus on keeping his customers satisfied.
“If you’re bogged down with administration and marketing, you don’t have time to do whatever you’re best at,” says Kristie. “And Marshall’s forte is working with his customers and crew.”
Hoffman says his crew understands the importance of courtesy and attention to detail and are experts at moving antiques and family heirlooms. Crew members wear neat uniforms. Punctuality is a high priority: if a crew member is even five minutes late, the day’s tight schedule — and the all-important customer — suffers.
“These are not just guys off the street I’ve hired,” says Hoffman. “My crew is made up of skilled professionals who take pride in the quality of their work. To be a great mover takes a lot more than muscle.”
The majority of Hoffman’s business comes from the Hancock/Harrison County area, but Marshall Moving can handle regional jobs within a 500-mile radius.
Hoffman offers everything from an hourly service (2 hour minimum) for smaller jobs like loading or unloading, or moving a major item like a pool table.
If a client wants a full-service move (including options like packing), Hoffman prices by the job and handles all the details.
At the end of a long day the equipment, truck and trailer are carefully cleaned, ready for the next morning’s job.
“People notice that kind of thing. Customers are always trying to buy my trailer,” Hoffman says, laughing. “We keep everything spotless and I always get compliments. It makes a statement about who we are.”