Kyle Norcutt figured he might as well just corner the whole market.
The Grand Rapids native and longtime multi-unit franchisee became the sole owner of all Two Men and a Truck locations in West Michigan after closing a 2021 deal.
The September purchase of the Grand Rapids South franchise was a long time coming for Norcutt, who has owned more than 25 Two Men locations across the United States since 1998. Today, his franchise group owns 10 Two Men and a Truck locations across the country, and Norcutt said the 2021 deal, which also included two northern Indiana acquisitions, is likely to account for 25% of Empire Franchise Group’s total sales, with Grand Rapids adding roughly $2.5 million and the two Indiana locations adding an estimated $6 million to total revenue.
After co-purchasing his first franchises with a childhood friend in North Carolina more than two decades ago, Norcutt later returned to his Michigan roots after becoming the sole owner of the Kalamazoo moving franchise in 2001, which also provided him the opportunity to move back to Michigan. His current portfolio of franchises includes locations in Colorado, Utah, Washington and Indiana, but the Grand Rapids native long hoped for his homecoming, which would later involve him becoming the sole owner of all locations in the West Michigan territory.
Two Men’s West Michigan footprint, all of which are now owned by Norcutt, include Kalamazoo and its Battle Creek satellite office, Grand Rapids North consisting of Comstock Park and Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids South in Wyoming and Two Men Lakeshore, encompassing Holland and Spring Lake.
After living in Kalamazoo for 10 years and purchasing the Grand Rapids North franchise in 2007, Norcutt made his move back to Grand Rapids and has been living full-time in his hometown since 2012.
Norcutt’s multi-unit ownership over the years has afforded him a broad understanding of franchise growth, how to maintain customer service and provided him a skillset of how to motivate his team to find a path to success. The acquisition of the Grand Rapids South franchise has now afforded the company a more streamlined customer service and marketing model and better opportunities for employees.
“The beauty of having the whole market, it does make it a little bit easier for marketing and we have some call sharing between our locations,” Norcutt said. “So, if a customer calls any of our customer service reps at any of the four locations in West Michigan, they answer the call and schedule the estimates and book the jobs, and then we kind of look for the most efficient way to get those jobs done. So, if somebody let’s say is in Hudsonville, we can kind of share that between any of the three locations, you know, the lakeshore (and) the two Grand Rapids locations. It just kind of makes everything a little more efficient for the customer and just works out really well.”
Norcutt said his Two Men and a Truck franchises always have looked to promote and encourage growth opportunities from within, and said that the bigger West Michigan footprint also gives some opportunity for his employees to move up into different management positions.
“And then we have a corporate office that we call Empire Franchise Group that’s based in Grand Rapids, … that’s kind of our management group that oversees all of our franchises. So just having a little bit bigger presence in West Michigan makes that easier, not just for managing, but for promoting from within and giving some other people some (additional) opportunities.”
Prior to the recent acquisition, Norcutt estimates that Empire Franchise Group operated with around 225 employees across the seven nationwide locations. He said the Grand Rapids and northern Indiana locations brought approximately 50 new employees to his team who were employed under the previous owner. The acquisition also added approximately 25 trucks to his fleet, and Norcutt said the business currently operates with roughly 100 trucks. One of his focuses as the company’s growth continues is trusting his location managers and giving them plenty of room to make their own decisions.
“You don’t want to have to call anyone on a daily basis,” he said. “That is one of the hardest parts of multi-unit ownership — trying not to get bogged down in the day-to-day issues and staying focused on the big picture.”
While Norcutt has focused on a smooth transition for the business and employees staying under his leadership, he’s also seen benefits for customer service operations as a whole amid any potential impacts from COVID-19.
“With COVID, unfortunately, we’ve had it where we’ve had to have kind of rolling stops at different locations where we’ve had to close an office for a week, and it’s been nice to have another three locations where they can pick up the slack,” he said. “So, we really haven’t had to miss a beat there.”
Norcutt said he looks forward to continuing to expand services at select franchise locations, including mobile storage and junk removal. In the fall of 2020, Norcutt’s group opened a new office on Dodge Court NE in Comstock Park offering newer storage services that would piggyback on the storage space offered at the Grand Rapids South location, which the team anticipated the eventual acquisition of.
“We’ve started rolling out bringing mobile containers out to customers’ houses, and we can load those up and then store them back in our warehouse,” he said. “Then we’ve had a junk removal service that we’ve kind of been rolling out over the last year, too. So, it’s just extra services that we provide on top of the moving services that are usually services people need when they’re moving.”
The organization also has instilled charitable giving and community impact into its core values, putting an emphasis on donating its resources and time to the communities it serves. In anticipation of its largest charitable event of the year, Movers for Moms, Two Men and a Truck has partnered with four local nonprofits for 2022, including SAFE Place of Battle Creek, YWCA West Central Michigan in Grand Rapids, Resilience in Holland and Alpha Grand Rapids. Starting in March, Two Men will deliver collection boxes to business partners and collect essential care items for community members in need ahead of Mother’s Day. The organization is currently seeking additional business partners to host collection boxes for the event to help extend its impact.
Other charitable contributions include Movers for Mutts benefitting Michele’s Rescue in Grand Rapids, delivering face masks and hand sanitizer to Mercy Health, using trucks to pick up Toys for Tots donations, delivering food items to those who’ve lost their homes during the pandemic, and transporting pallets of diapers to families in need.
“When you’ve got a bunch of trucks, there’s always organizations that can use some help. We’ve got the manpower and trucks, so we just kind of help out whenever we can,” Norcutt said.
According to Norcutt, the previous owner of the recently acquired Grand Rapids South location ran a good operation and already had good people in place, and he looks forward to building on the foundation of good customer service with his local team network to further the company’s success and community impact in West Michigan.
“You know, there’s really a long history of providing good customer service in West Michigan and that’s just our goal, to keep continuing that and improving it over time. We operate with about a 98% referral rate with our customers, and the West Michigan markets have kind of been leaders in the Two Men truck system for a long time. So, it’s just nice to kind of keep that going and keep on going from there,” Norcutt said.