Potomac resident Jonathan Neal, president of Metropolitan Moving & Storage, has been on the move for years.
He was a star lacrosse player at Georgetown Prep and earned a full lacrosse scholarship to Loyola in Baltimore. After graduating from college in 2002, he hung up his lacrosse stick and stepped into another field prompted by the words from his parents, “Let’s move on.” Those words, melded with encouragement from his friend and now business partner, Robert Bistle, prompted Neal to work for a moving company in Silver Spring.
One day the company’s estimator quit and Neal was asked to cover three appointments. Though inexperienced, he returned to the office with two deposits and continued to have much success in the sales side of the business. After two years, Neal was not impressed with the overall operation so he and Bistle decided to branch out and form their own company. In 2004, Metropolitan Moving & Storage was born.
“We had a very modest start with two employees,” said Neal, now 34 years old. The company has grown to 39 movers and seven office personnel.
Their business model is based on their experiences. “We learned how not to run a moving company and modeled things with that in mind. We take good care of the guys, train them well and pay them well. Essentially, we’ve taken a blue collar business and brought a white collar aspect to it,” said Neal. Staff is given the insight that when a client is moving they might be at their worst emotional state – not all moves are happy moves – some involve death, divorce or separation. Neal added, “If a client is acting anxious, there’s no difference in the guys’ temperament, they are patient and polite.”
Many of the employees have been with the business since its inception. On a long-distance move, the same movers who load the truck will be the same movers the family sees at the other end of their move. “The way we handle customers is very specific to us. We do it from start to finish and will never entertain partnering with another firm to become an agent for them,” said Neal. The company is also not interested in franchising. “Our personal touch on this is why we’re successful. We want to be sure to continue to grow with quality and the quality of the guys in mind. We want to grow where we have control on a daily basis,” said Neal.
From cozy condos to colossal colonials, the company has staff certified to move high-end chandeliers, antiques, pianos, and pool tables. “We’ve removed the hassle for the customer of having to hire separate movers for pianos, et cetera. We are equipped and certified all under one roof – this is something we’ve excelled in,” said Neal.
Some of the more challenging moves have included hoisting a baby grand piano from ground level into a third-story opening and using a dedicated truck with extra padding to transport six 14-foot sandstone pillars from a home’s foyer to the homeowner’s new location. A large Potomac move by Metropolitan brought the furnishings to the 47,000-square-foot house on Norton Road recently featured on the Potomac House Tour.
Neal said the number of clients storing furniture to de-clutter and stage their homes for sale has increased by 25 to 30 percent in the past three years. He added, “It was five percent or less before 2009 when the staging madness began.” Bistle said there are 375 crates of clients’ furnishings in their climate-controlled warehouse.
Many are moved by the fact that for three years, Metropolitan has, at-no-charge, relocated shelter families to their new dwellings. Denise Fredericks, executive director of Stepping Stones Shelter said, “We are so grateful Jon is able to use his assets to support our families. When we see the Metropolitan Moving truck pull up, it’s always a good day because it means someone is moving to a new home. After the first move, Jon sent a long email saying, ‘You just don’t know how good it feels, I am so grateful.’ We see people who have fallen off the edge of the cliff into homelessness and he sees them at the cusp of their new beginning.”
“It was a natural fit,” said Neal. “I saw the facility and it made a lot of sense for what we do – moving people from home to home.” Metropolitan, with the assistance of area Realtors, has helped furnish residents’ homes with pieces no longer wanted by clients.
Commitment to community and giving back is a driving force for Bistle and Neal. When they learned that the Bike to the Beach for Autism Race to support Autism Speaks had a dilemma because cyclists were restricted from riding across the Bay Bridge, they volunteered their trucks and employees. Bicycles were carefully wrapped in plastic and loaded on trucks, transported across the bridge, unloaded and unwrapped on the other side for the race to continue.
Other charities benefit from the company’s charitable giving including Daffodils & Diamonds for cancer research; Mayfair in NW D.C. to keep the local community park in good condition; Winners Lacrosse Annual Golf Tournament that supports a foundation to help fund equipment for underprivileged children, and furniture no longer wanted by clients is donated to Look Again Resale Shop in Kensington with proceeds designated for the Prevention of Blindness Society. Neal said, “We have a strong imprint in this area and want to keep our hands in locally.”
He recently became a member of the Potomac Chamber of Commerce. Metropolitan Moving & Storage’s booth will be at the Potomac Days Parade Saturday, Oct. 25.
In late November or early December, the company will be on the move from their 13,000-square-foot Rockville warehouse to their brand new 40,000-square-foot building in Laurel. Metropolitan plans to celebrate its new location and decade in the moving industry with an open house. “Our new facility is a whole new beginning. It is a huge step up. We will double our current business in the next five years,” said Neal.
For more information visit: www.dcmetropolitanmoving.com.