Moving coordinating company Relocation Strategies Inc. is used to dealing with companies in transition. Now the firm is undergoing one of its own-albeit of a different sort.
Relocation Strategies founder David Bayse is relinquishing ownership to partner Melissa Lamb Brown in a purchase agreement set to be completed within the next four years. She already owns a majority of the business and will acquire the rest in stages.
In the meantime, Bayse, 57, will continue to guide Brown, 39, who came aboard in 2004.
"I'm a salesperson by birth, but to run a business, I need David to mentor me," she said. "I am absolutely going to take full advantage of the four years."
Relocation Strategies doesn't pack boxes, lift heavy furniture or disconnect computers. Rather, it orchestrates the moving process and hires the right people for each job.
The company operates from a home Bayse purchased in the Fountain Square neighborhood four years ago. The number of employees since has doubled from three to six. Bayse declined to divulge annual revenue but acknowledged the firm has grown slowly and steadily in what he referred to as a limited market.
Brown, who arrived from Meridian Real Estate Services as a project manager, has brought office furniture procurement into the fold. She writes the requests for proposals and puts them out for bid, taking one less chore off a client's to-do list. Relocating companies often buy furniture to complement their new space.
Her majority stake positioned Relocation Strategies to become certified by the city and state as a woman-owned busi- ness. The designation recently helped it win a job locating furniture, fixtures and equipment as a subcontractor for the Indiana Convention Center expansion.
Impressive client roster
Bayse founded the firm in 1986 as a recruiter for Mayflower Transit Co. and a district sales manager for Hogan Transfer-Mayflower Agency. The thought of someday going into business for himself received a lift from the federal government's decision to deregulate the moving industry. More discounts from increased competition resulted in deeper commission cuts.
In addition, he handled both residential and corporate moves but preferred working with companies because emotions seldom were an issue.
"If an item got broken," he said, "it wasn't like, 'Oh, that was my favorite desk.'"
Bayse hung his shingle from a oneroom office over Stout's Shoe Store on Massachusetts Avenue and got his first job handling the move of the former Peat Marwick LLP accounting firm into the then-new First Indiana Plaza.
Referrals helped him assemble a client roster that reads like a list of the city's top employers, including such names as Eli Lilly and Co., Thomson, Conseco Inc. and ITT Educational Services Inc. Zimmer Inc. in Warsaw is a customer as well.
Relocation Strategies conducts roughly 40 moves a year for companies ranging from a handful of workers to hundreds of employees. In April, it helped ProKids Inc., a not-for-profit that administers grants for a state early intervention program targeting children with developmental issues.
ProKids employs 100 people and moved from an office complex at 46th Street and Keystone Avenue to another at 77th Street and Shadeland Avenue. Relocation Strategies helped inventory items to determine what could be taken to the new location, said Tamara Hardin, the organization's executive director.
"Moving is a huge challenge and very time-consuming," she said. "They did a great number of things to relieve me of those tasks."
Indianapolis Bar Association leaders are so confident in the abilities of Relocation Strategies that they are hiring it a second time. IBA moved to the National Bank of Indianapolis building nearly 10 years ago and will leave by the end of the year for M&I Plaza.
"If I knew I had to manage another move, they would be doing it," IBA Executive Director Julie Armstrong said. "There was not a single element that they did not deliver on, which is rare."
City moves once accounted for 90 percent of Relocation Strategies' work. The amount has dropped over the years to about 50 percent, due to locally based clients with multiple locations.
Bayse has had the privilege of participating in some unusual projects too-like the time he orchestrated the move of an Indiana University alumnus' 10,000-pound telescope from Alabama to Bloomington. Or when Wishard Hospital hired him to transport 235 Alzheimer's patients from the Marion County Home on Brookville Road to Lockefield Gardens near Wishard. His duties included scheduling enough ambulances, buses and wheelchairs, as well as tracking medications.
The health of the economy typically has no bearing on the company. It moves clients into smaller space if they're downsizing and into larger digs if they're expanding.
But the housing slump has attracted more movers to the office market, Bayse said, which puts even more pressure on an already competitive industry. Most newcomers, however, lack the expertise and ability needed to move Relocation Strategies' clients.
The art of conducting a move is no simple task and has become more complex as technology advances. Coordinating service for telephone and computer systems is critical. Shoddy service could sabotage a business.
Relocation Strategies almost closed its doors in 1996 after a failed attempt at selling workplace staples such as carpeting, wall coverings, systems furniture and nameplates.
The firm's focus fell away from relocations and the bottom line suffered. The company went in the red in 1996 when Bayse bought out a three-year partner and refocused the firm.
"We were too different," he said of his relationship with the former partner. "I had to take three or four steps back to move forward again."
He's confident with Brown that history won't repeat itself.