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Wheaton Van Lines expanding HQ, adding jobs

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Wheaton Van Lines Inc. plans a 10,000-square-foot addition to its northeast-side Indianapolis headquarters, a move resulting from its April acquisition of Hillside, Ill.-based Bekins Van Lines.

The acquisition of Bekins has brought 33 new jobs to Wheaton’s 38-year-old campus near interstates 69 and 465.

Grading has already begun on a new parking lot.  Work on the addition to the existing 30,000-square-foot headquarters will begin in earnest this month.

“We will be hiring more [people] before the end of the year and perhaps more into 2013, but it’s not clear yet what the top end will be,” said A.J. Schneider, vice president of sales and marketing at Wheaton.

Snapping up Bekins boosted Wheaton’s standing in the $16 billion moving and storage industry from sixth-largest to No. 4.

The acquisition should add about $80 million to the Indianapolis company’s annual sales total, which was $170 million last year.

Bekins is a household name in the Chicago area and serves markets in the western United States.

Wheaton, whose principal subsidiary is Wheaton World Wide Moving, has been strong in the Midwest and Northeast.

Bekins was more focused on so-called cash-on-delivery household moves than Wheaton, which is more diversified and also serves military residential moves and corporate residential relocations.

Indiana is also home to the nation’s third-largest mover — Evansville-based Atlas World Group, parent of Atlas Van Lines.

The other two major industry players are Fenton, Mo.-based UniGroup, which owns United Van Lines and Mayflower Transit.  Until 2005, Mayflower was based in Carmel.

The No. 1 industry player is Chicago-based SIRVA Inc., which owns Fort Wayne-based North American Van Lines. North American and Allied Van Lines merged in 1999.

Privately held Wheaton now has about 145 employees. It will continue to use the Bekins and Wheaton brands and agent systems but has consolidated back-end operations.

A ceremonial ground breaking on the addition was scheduled for noon Monday.

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