Broyles Transfer & Storage – Kirksville
Jacob Condon, co-owner of Broyles Transfer and Storage in Kirksville, didn’t follow a conventional path to business success.
He didn’t earn an MBA. In fact, his major wasn’t in business but in English from Truman State University in Kirksville, earned in 2005.
His most recent professional experience wasn’t with a local banker or CPA, either, but one of the largest and most geographically dispersed entities in the world.
Condon recently returned from Qatar, an oil-rich emirate on the Persian Gulf, where he served as a first lieutenant with the 175th Military Police Battalion, providing critical site security, convoy escort missions, transportation and other duties on U.S. military bases.
And the road less taken doesn’t stop there. Condon didn’t stick close to his home in Minnesota to start a business. Before he and his wife, Heather, bought Broyles Transfer and Storage, he was working in Ottumwa, Iowa, commuting 65 miles one way each day. They agreed that was too far and began looking for something closer to Kirksville.
Establishing a business
Heather, a Truman State University psychology major and realtor with the Century 21 Whitney Agency in Kirksville (who also does bookkeeping for the transfer and storage business), knew that Broyles was on the market. The couple approached the owner, who agreed to sell. They in turn agreed to keep the firm’s name.
“The Broyles name had good recognition and a good reputation,” says Condon. The firm was established in 1959. “Plus if we changed the name of the company, we’d have to spend more money on advertising.”
As with most young couples, money was an issue. The now-engaged couple managed to purchase the business with funds partially raised from friends and their families.
“We figured if we could be business partners, then marriage would be easy,” he says.
But following the wedding, with his deployments and a brand-new daughter, that wasn’t exactly the case, either.
The family loans put them in business but weren’t enough to truly grow the company. They needed to secure a loan; to do that, they needed advice and counsel about the legal structure of the firm, a sound business plan and a thorough financial review.
The couple had previously been introduced to staff at the Truman State University SBTDC. The SBTDC counselors were happy to help, poring over the company’s financials, helping them whip a business plan into shape and then guiding them through the process of securing an SBA-guaranteed loan.
The result: Broyles Transfer and Storage increased revenues to more than $135,000 last year and is on track to do as well or better this year, Condon says, despite a soft economy. The firm also employs more than double the number of employees the previous owner employed, mostly veterans.
The SBTDC helped the Condons hammer out a realistic plan based on information from the previous owner and helped the new owners develop an improved marketing plan.
Commitment to veterans
But the Condons’ success is mainly due to their hard work. Hiring dependable, hard-working veterans doesn’t hurt, either.
The couple’s commitment to hiring active duty, reserve or veteran military personnel is so strong Gov. Jay Nixon chose Broyles Transfer and Storage as the location at which he signed House Bill 1680 in July 2012. This bill strengthens and expands the Show-Me Heroes program, which provides businesses incentives to hire military veterans and spouses.
Under the new legislation, employers would be reimbursed for 50 percent of a veteran worker’s wages during training. The bill also provides financial assistance to spouses for payment of overdue bills, transportation, day care and vocational counseling.
Condon says the governor’s visit was a nice morale booster and great publicity. The couple says, however, they would hire veterans and active-duty personnel anyway because it’s the right thing to do.
“To be able to offer them that [employment], to say ‘We understand you’re going to be gone for training, we understand you’ll be gone for drills — that’s just part of their life and duty to our country. We owe it to them to offer them jobs,” Heather says.
At one point, Condon says, he and five of his eight employees were either deployed or in basic training, leaving Heather to carry on. This she did very well, he says, even though she has her own business as a realtor.
Condon says the area’s relative isolation and two schools make it ideal for a small business like his, which also provides students storage in a two-story, elevator-equipped facility. Kirksville is roughly three hours from Des Moines, St. Louis or Kansas City and, in addition to Truman State, is home to A.T. Still University.
“We are kind of isolated up here. The national economy affects us, sure. But we mainly do local business.” Condon says he’s moved people as far away as Maine, returning with empty trucks. Unlike nationwide movers who can pick up return or nearby business, helping recoup fuel, meals and lodging costs, he has to build one-way trips into his bids. But he manages to remain competitive.
“Plus we’re a local business, a family business, and people know and respect that,” he says. Moving can be traumatic, so dealing with people you know can go a very long way.
And the future?
“I have another year left of my obligation to the Guard,” he says. “Then I’ll probably get out. I have a wife and daughter now.”
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