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Mid-West Moving: 150,000 Moves in the Making

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Luis Toledo had a humble start in the industry that has made him a success: “When I graduated from high school I saw an ad for $4.50 [an hour] for a mover and I was making $1.65 at a hardware store.” It wasn’t clear then, but the moving industry would be where he made his mark.

A Change in Plans Born in 1959 to Puerto Rican parents that arrived in the mainland in 1955, Toledo recalls some of the tribulations of growing up in predominantly-white Evanston with his five siblings. “It was a little rough during that time. Everybody was blonde hair, blue eyes. We were dark hair, dark eyes.”

To get through it, he sought out positive influences who would go on to become his mentors later in life. In 1983, Toledo decided to take a year off from school to work. “I was working two or three jobs and realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere…the thing that I did best at that time made people happy moving them into their new homes.”

Based on that realization and the advice of a mentor who told him to start a business while young, he sought financing to buy his first moving truck. This was the birth of Mid-West Moving & Storage. A Strategic Shift As a one-person operation, Toledo realized he wasn’t building sales. He diverted his attention to sales full-time and quickly saw exponential growth as a result.

One mover has now grown to about 110 employees. His one truck? It’s multiplied to about 65 trailers and trucks. When there was a downturn in the housing market, Toledo pivoted from residential to commercial moving clients such as offices, hotels, school districts and government agencies. He first received a certification from the City of Chicago to bid on moving jobs at that level.

Then came working with Chicago Public School moving projects. Mid-West now also works with Cook County entities and the federal government. Toledo has been 8(a) certified through the Small Business Administration for nine years. Mid-West also has partners in major cities across the U.S. They send project managers as needed to work with local labor.

On an international level, they load containers locally and then ship them overseas to partners or receive containers from partners abroad to move into a location in Chicago. There are now 150,000 moves under his belt. “Looking back this is the start of my 36th year in business and I can’t believe that it’s been that long,” Toledo says. Maybe part of that success is his “just do it” mentality.

“There is a point where you can wait until everything is perfect to do, but usually that point never comes. So if you’re thinking about opening up a business, open it up, work hard, have a good group of mentors that you can talk to and bounce ideas off of.” He admits that mistakes were part of his journey, but “I paid for those mistakes myself and I grew.”

Por Arianna Hermosillo

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