This is not your grandma’s moving company. In fact, it’s not just a moving company at all. AMJ Campbell established itself in Calgary as a leading residential mover when it started its franchise business in 1984 and it has evolved and grown over the years into an operation with multiple thriving divisions that provide service in all areas of moving, storage and delivery. The Calgary franchisees applied the experience and resources that the original AMJ Campbell Van Lines founders had amassed since 1934 and then improved upon this great model to create something even better.
The partners capitalized on a strong economy thanks to a booming oil and gas industry and a burgeoning corporate base in Calgary through the 1980s. They marketed the company to make AMJ synonymous with sports as well as moving in the city, becoming the official mover of the Canadian Olympic team and being linked to the “Move of the Game” feature at Calgary Flames games.
By the early 2000s, AMJ Campbell had become a full-service mover, leading the industry in residential household, corporate and international moving. Not satisfied with staying static, AMJ pushed to grow into other areas. The company offered domestic and international relocations for its clients’ employees, taking on the logistics as well as the stress and headaches of the complicated moving process.
“We were known across Canada as a corporate booking office, and we probably controlled 75 per cent of the Calgary market for corporate relocations,” says Doug Jasper, former General Manager of the Calgary branch and now Managing Director of AMJ’s newest division and first expansion into retail, The Furniture Shop. “Our account list includes some of the largest companies in the world.”
When Doug Jasper moved from Edmonton to Calgary, he did so to build the company’s office moving business. The team, always on the lookout for opportunities to diversify, quickly became the go-to company for office moving just as the city was building up the downtown core. The opportunities were enormous and this area of moving and installation grew quickly for AMJ Campbell. The team earned a reputation for specialized skill and efficiency, ensuring clients experienced minimal downtime when moving offices.
When the markets started to sour and offices began to empty out downtown over the past several years, AMJ identified the silver lining in the downturn and, as another way to diversify the company’s offerings, added a used furniture division to the portfolio.
“We decommissioned a lot of buildings, bought the used furniture and resold it. It’s basically AMJ Campbell’s jump to retail,” says Jasper. “We started The Furniture Shop and have taken it national, opening in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and with plans to soon expand into Cambridge, Ontario and Vancouver.”
AMJ maintains a quality standard even in used product, choosing the items it sells carefully. The Furniture Shop is also delving into new furniture sales, representing the amazing products of Logiflex and Artopex.
“It’s an opportunity for us to get into the marketplace. In the next year I’m hoping to have a complete team selling new office furniture,” says Jasper. “We have the facility for it and we can house the furniture.”
The 110,000-square-foot facility, which AMJ Campbell moved into two years ago, was chosen to facilitate the company’s diversification and expansion plans, and it is designed to support AMJ’s varied divisions.
The home delivery division is AMJ’s largest growth area across Canada and it was further boosted by the increase in online shopping due to COVID-19. The company has national contracts with a number of major retail brands, providing white-glove delivery and installation services on their behalf to customers throughout Canada. AMJ teams pride themselves on making on-time deliveries in a professional manner and offer real-time tracking information and progress reports to keep customers informed. In five short years, AMJ has become a trusted and valued third-party delivery service, completing around 300,000 home deliveries across the country each year. The fleet has doubled, and in some areas tripled, to facilitate this growing business area.
Diversification is key, and AMJ Campbell has focused on creating new revenue streams like installation, distribution and storage for private and corporate clients in order to meet this objective. From installing everything from fixtures and appliances to offices at the new Calgary Cancer Centre, to distributing 131,000 boxes of Girl Guide Cookies, storing and cataloging overflow office furniture for corporate clients to relocating large groups of employees across the country or across the globe, AMJ has a broader scope of services than any other moving company.
“We want to position ourselves to be well diversified and be able to do business regionally, nationally and with our trading partners in the U.S. We look at Calgary as our centrepiece in western Canada as we become a global economy,” says Pierre Frappier, President of AMJ Campbell.
With more than 60,000 moves per year, 2,600 team members across the country and more than 500,000 businesses moved, AMJ Campbell is definitely a leader in the field. It is also a leader in the community. Every year it supports the Women’s Emergency Shelter’s Toy Mountain initiative to ensure children have a gift at Christmas, participates in the Kinsmen Stampede Lottery Dream Home raffle for the show home at the Calgary Stampede and is involved with The Shoebox Project to support women in need. AMJ still supports sports with its relationship with the Calgary Blizzards soccer club and has an association with the Calgary Sports Hall of Fame to move exhibits in the building and across Canada.
A strong community leads to strong business, and strong business requires leaders to help it continue to grow. AMJ Campbell recently welcomed a strong leader in Jordan Campese as General Manager; he’s a dynamic young professional eager to help AMJ redefine and position itself for success in an ever-evolving business world.
“Jordan brings the opportunity for us to look at things through a different set of lenses to lead us into the next five to 10 years of diversification opportunities and growth,” says Frappier.
AMJ’s diverse offerings range from corporate storage of office furniture to residential storage crates, all stored in the bonded, temperature-controlled, clean and secure location. This gives clients the peace of mind that their possessions will be safe and protected.
AMJ also employs Affinity Vaults, which are filled, secured with a client’s lock, and placed onto freight trucks that run nonstop across the country to be delivered at their destination. Contents in these vaults aren’t unloaded and reloaded as they go down the line thus reducing the risk of damage, and if there is a move-in delay the vaults can easily be stored in the warehouse until the clients are ready for them.
Campese’s vision is one that embraces the new aspects of the business, especially technology and diversification, to keep AMJ at the cutting edge to best serve clients.
“Everything we do at AMJ is centred around providing the best customer experience possible,” he says. “Through the use of technology, such as real-time tracking software and virtual estimating, we’re continuing to invest and expand into areas that enhance our customer servicing capabilities. Our emphasis on diversification continues to establish and solidify AMJ as not just a moving company, but a full-service solutions provider for a wide array of clientele, which is incredibly exciting.”
The future is exciting at AMJ Campbell. The stable of long-time employees are sharing their expertise and experience with the next generation and passing the torch to Campese to ensure the company thrives for decades to come. After all, AMJ Campbell’s 40 years of success is due largely to their front-line staff. The branch has dozens of drivers, packers, labourers and warehouse workers who work tirelessly, and often through adverse conditions with tight deadlines, to deliver AMJ’s industry-leading standard of excellence. It’s not a job for the faint of heart, but AMJ has many employees that have been with the company for decades and are truly the backbone of the organization.
“Our team is incredibly talented, and our complementary skillsets provide us with the expertise we need to expand our service offering,” Campese says. “Most people aren’t aware that we do office decommissioning, commercial installations, corporate relocation, or that we have a furniture retail storefront, and that’s the message we’re really excited to share. There’s more to AMJ than meets the eye.”
What meets the eye is a thriving corporation led by its new GM’s vision to diversify and grow in the Calgary market.
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