Moving Forward: Business Is Back – Employers Are Hiring

Meadhead Movers Josie Wellington and her father, Luke Davis.

Written by Judy Salamacha

May 24, 2021

Nipomo’s Josie Wellington is the newest Move Team Member while her dad, Paso Robles’ Luke Davis shows off his well-worn t-shirt. One of the original Meatheads, he’s been with the company since 1998.

What a difference a year makes! For example, Meathead Movers & Mini Storage not only moved forward, but raced through 2020. Now in May 2021 their priority issue, just as many San Luis Obispo County businesses, is finding enough employees ready, willing, and excited to rejoin the workforce.

On Thursday, May 20 between 2-4 p.m. the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce is creating a map of employees available at a table in front of their business ready to answer job opportunity questions for potential employees. Chamber Board Member, Allison Schiavo of Eckerd Connects Workforce Development is coordinating the Merchant Job Fair.

Flashback to SLO life and business last May, 2020: students were distraught at the loss of league sports activities, prom night and graduation; nonprofits wondered how they would survive without their scheduled annual fundraisers; Zoom technology became the go-to option for group meetings, conferences, and conventions; and technology previously available, but not widely used, enabled students and employees to study and work from home or any remote location.

Essential workers, health-care, food suppliers, and designated industries offering services deemed necessary, such as Meathead Movers, were working harder than ever. Others laid employees off or slashed hours, making unemployment attractive. If a business planned to stay in business, it needed new protective equipment installed to transact business. Masks were required for employees and patrons. Limited access allowed shoppers to shop. Garden dining could qualify with social distanced seating while other eateries needed to invest in outdoor seating to serve customers. Many had to exist on take-out service. Life as we knew it was questioned and a “new normal” was expected – someday.

Dawn Ventura is the director of communication for Meathead Movers & Mini Storage, headquartered in San Luis Obispo. She confirmed summertime is typically prime time for their business, however, 2020 was anything but typical. In March, thirty percent of their scheduled moves were canceled, but by late April bookings mushroomed. The company retooled its safety protocols and were ready to accept new business.

“In 2020, we completed roughly 3,000 moves out of our SLO branch and 500 of those were moves to/from locations in Morro Bay, Los Osos, Cayucos and Cambria,” Ventura reported. “Families typically want to settle into their next home or community before the next school year begins, but interstate moves grew by 150 percent. People were fleeing California for various states like Tennessee, Texas and South Dakota. With employees working remotely, they realized they could live anywhere. They wanted out of big cities.”

Not only had Meathead Movers convinced customers they could handle their move, but with school athletics on-hold their potential Move-Team employee pool expanded. New hires were made and kept busy on-and-off-season, 2020-21. In fact, Ventura’s family decided to move closer to the San Luis Obispo headquarters.

In 2015 Meathead Movers became Ventura’s priority client while working for an outside public relations agency. The account provided the opportunity for her to promote the company’s advocacy program — free moves for domestic violence victims.

“With positive results the company wanted to expand its community outreach,” Ventura said. “I was hired as the director of communications in 2019. I was operating remotely from our Orange County branch. After my husband and I found out that we would be adding another addition to our growing family in 2020, we realized it was time to move into a larger home. With the insane housing market, it was nearly impossible to find anything in our price range in Orange County.” They found a home in Paso Robles that was “…twice the size for half the price as OC” and her husband turned a lifetime crisis, the trauma of a company layoff, into a lifelong dream opportunity. “He is working his way through the process of becoming a firefighter here in San Luis County.”

However, as Meathead Movers anticipates 2021 summertime moves, projections are trending towards an all time high, but with school sports activities re-starting the challenge will be hiring enough ‘Meatheads,’ student athletes or former athletes in good shape looking for work and a chance to stay in shape during the off season.

Ventura said Meathead Movers has moves scheduled, but to accept more business the company realized their advertising priorities needed to pivot to let the public know it was hiring. “We’re looking for student athletes or former athletes who have stayed in shape. We pay $15 to $17 per hour and offer a signing bonus.”

Meathead Movers is the largest privately owned moving company in California with five branches in San Luis Obispo, Oxnard, Santa Ana, Fresno and Bakersfield. Their website includes a Hall of Fame – ‘Meatheads’ who have moved on to other careers. Ventura said mentoring employees is part of their corporate culture. “We see our Move Team jobs as stepping stones to move up within the company or we help prepare and refer employees to other careers.”

It all started in 1997 when Aaron and Evan Steed were fifteen and seventeen. While at SLO High School one brother played football and the other wrestled. Hoping to make some money during the off season they offered to help a friend’s family move. They accepted $20 and a pizza for doing the job. As they earned their way, other athlete friends wanted to join their team. The company grew from a U-Haul to today’s fleet, including cross-country semis. All the while, their core hiring remains student athletes.

Ventura says May 2021 will mark the month employees will return to work at the South Higuera facility. And she also wanted to remind San Luis Obispo County nonprofits that as county-wide fund raising activities become part of the new normal, Meathead Movers is still invested in its community advocacy. “The company wants to help out. Our ‘Meatheads’ will set up chairs and tables for events or we can offer a basket for silent auctions.”

Need a job? Want to be a Meathead? Check out the Morro Bay Merchant Job Fair today in Morro Bay.

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