Well, in the last three months, something quite different has appeared on the scene.
It’s a form of warehousing called portable self-storage and it manifests itself as the Fort Knox Box.
The way it works is that the firm or family wanting to store items calls Movers in Motion, a traditional moving and storage firm that’s been in business here 11 years.
The company, owned by Craig and Jane Courtney, then delivers a box — five feet wide, eight feet deep and tall — to the client. The client then proceeds to load up to a ton of material — office furniture, files, household goods and what not — into the box.
“Then we come and get it with a specially equipped truck and take it to Union Station where the storage is managed by Trace Warehousing,” Craig Courtney said.
And, he indicated, the process needn’t be a rush.
“It’s all about bringing more convenience to the often dreaded process of moving and storage,” Courtney said.
“The user can take their time loading the portable storage unit,” he said.
“It you require a week or more, that’s fine,” he added, indicating that the boxes are weather protected and can remain locked in place outside or behind one’s establishment while loading is underway.
Courtney says the skid-mounted boxes actually can hold as much as 2,500 pounds, but are only insured for 2,000.
“If you want to fill one with furniture, that will work just fine,” he said. ” But if you want to cram it with loaded file cabinets or all your old National Geographics, that’s too much. They’re not going to take that kind of load.”
The Fort Knox Boxes are stored in tiers at the Union Station warehouse, he said, and if one needs access to a box, the firm requires 24 hours’ notice. “You’ll be able to get into your box from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.”
He said the nice thing about the box is that it is stored in a dry warehouse, rather than a cement block box that is subject to wide fluctuations in temperature and humidity that can promote mildew and cause furniture veneer to peel.
Too, he said, having the box picked up and delivered saves a great deal of time and effort on the part of the people doing the storing.
“The user only handles his belongings once,” he said, noting that the process eliminates the time and cost of renting and loading and unloading a truck, or making several trips with a car to a rental storage unit.
He said the Fort Knox Box service is a division of the firm he and his wife started with rental trucks here in 1991.
Courtney, a native of Pittsburg and son of a coal miner, transferred to Grand Rapids in the 1980s from a moving and storage job in Connecticut.
They struck out on their own with Jane handling the office and Craig doing the heavy lifting and hauling in the firm’s single truck. Later it became necessary to rent additional trucks and to hire help.
By 1998, Movers in Motion owned a small fleet of trucks and acquired Fort Knox Self-Storage — a vacant three-story industrial structure at 1514 Jefferson which the firm renovated and transformed into a climate-controlled storage facility.
Fort Knox is a second division of Movers in Motion. Courtney says the facility has sheet steel, lockable storage sections in which, say, doctors or accountants can store records.
“In fact, with our commercial accounts we offer free pick-up and delivery of records that require long-term storage.
“For residential customers, we can lend you a truck — you’re fully insured when you use it — which you can load yourself and bring the items to Fort Knox and store them there. And you have access to your storage site whenever you need it.”