2016 Kansas State Small Business Person of the Year

Roger and Dana Ward, Great Day Moving

If you have every moved, and most people have, you realize it can be a great day or a terrible day – depending on whether someone in charge knows what they are doing and gives orders like a drill sergeant to assure the job is done right! Roger and Dana Ward, of Great Day Moving, both have the tenacity and skills learned while in the armed services to make any moving day “great.”

After Roger returned from Iraq, Roger and Dana left the armed services and poured their life savings in late 2007 into the purchase of Marathon Moving and Delivery LLC, a fledgling company providing residential and commercial moving and furniture delivery services to the greater Kansas City area since 1994.  The business consisted of just one piece of property – a truck. And shortly following their purchase of it, their primary client, responsible for 70 % of the business’ previous revenue, announced they were closing their doors.  This turned Roger and Dana’ projections upside down and left them with little value – but seeking the help of the Kansas Small Business Development Center at Johnson County community College in Overland Park, Kansas, helped turn what could have been a very bad day into one of the “great” days for which the company is now known.

 

The SBDC helped them shift services, find a target market and write a business plan to secure a $50,000 SBA-back loan. Combined with their history of armed service and management education, they were able to improve the internal infrastructure of operations, their customer service, and the day-to-day processes to make $100,000 in the first year of operation. In 2008, they were able to buy a second truck. In 2009, and another truck later, they began to operate debt free.  By 2011, they had a fleet of six moving trucks and a $417,000 a year in revenue. Today, revenues top more than a half million dollars and the company employs eight people full time, year round and 30 to 40 seasonal workers between April and November, when most Midwesterners move to avoid weather-related issues.

An integral part of the business expansion has been the development of computer software to improve overall operations, which also offers a new “Franchisee Dashboard” system to streamline business ownership.  You see another trip to the SBDC and another business plan and another SBA-backed $190,000 loan in 2013 allowed the couple o open their first franchised Great Day Moving operation in the Tulsa metropolitan area.  And their sights are set on future gains.  Roger describes the software the company created as powerful and sophisticated enough to be used anywhere in the world.

Roger and Dana both spent their early years serving our country in the Armed Forces.  Roger, a former infantryman, is a Purple Heart-decorated combat veteran who survived three tours in the Middle East.  Dana served in the Kansas Army National Guard while earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management.

The couple believes in using their trucks and donated services to build their relationship with the community – including moving Christmas trees for the Johnson County Christmas Bureau and Marillac Psychological Center and charity items for the Friends of Overland Park Arts, the American Heart Association, Harvesters Food Network, Operation Give-A-Bear and the Touched by Cancer Foundation.  The company also annually contributes time, money, and resources to other charitable organizations.

Great Day Moving company, under Roger and Dana’s watch, has received several awards for excellence including:  KMBC Kansas City A-List Best Movers for 2009, 2009 Kansas Small Business Development Center: Emerging Business of the year, 2010 Kansas Department of Commerce Merit Award, 2010 Ingram’s Magazine Top 20 in Their Twenties award and the Region VII SBA Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 20.

A source of pride for them is being an outstanding employer and in compliance with all county, state and federal regulations, unlike many hauling companies.  They stress their use of employees or contractors to accomplish their jobs, rather than staffing or labor agencies. Their company motto says it all:  “Treating customers and employees with respect and integrity, incurring God’s favor and embracing hard work. We believe in serving people and the community with excellence.”

Company Name: 
Great Day Moving
Location: 
Kansas City, KS