Signaling a shift from the "scrappy, startup" movers they once were, Bellhops released a new look Thursday that officials said better fits the nationally-recognized company they've become and announced plans to more than double the number of cities it serves in 2019.
Already in 26 cities and 13 states as far west as Arizona, north to Pennsylvania and south to Tampa, Fla., Bellhops is planning to expand to three or four cities a month in 2019. That's as many as 48 cities in one year, including major cities like Las Vegas and Miami. Starting Monday, they will begin service in Philadelphia and Baltimore, which will bring their total to 28 cities and 14 states before the new year even starts.
"Today, we feel like we are at a place that we can show to the world we are ready to be a national, full-scale company," said Kyle Miller, Bellhops' head of brand and communications.
Eric Nalbone, vice president of marketing for Bellhops, said the Chattanooga-based company has transformed from a startup that offers moves on college campuses and for small, single-family homes to a full-service moving company capable of regional and cross-country moves, too. They've raised over $25 million since their start in 2011 and grown to 116 employees at their Chattanooga headquarters in Warehouse Row. With nearly 140,000 moves completed to date, Bellhops employs roughly 3,000 movers and drivers during the peak seasons of spring and early summer.
"I joined the company in December of last year, and one of the things I realized when I walked in the door was the image we were showing the world was reflective of where we had been," Nalbone said. "It needed a little bit of updating to reflect the level of professionalism, maturity and technological advancement I saw."
Founded by Auburn University graduate Stephen Vlahos and his college colleague Cameron Doody, Bellhops uses a tech-enabled platform and a workforce of mostly college students to offer a lower-cost option for moves. Last year, they hired Luke Marklin as CEO to help move the startup venture through it's next stage of growth. Marklin was a general manager at Uber in the region before joining Bellhops.
In July, the company went viral after a Birmingham-area employee, 20-year-old Walter Carr, walked 14 miles to help a customer move after his ride fell through. Marklin gifted the employee his SUV to help him get to work in the future. Marklin will appear Friday on the nationally televised Steve Harvey show to talk about Carr and Bellhops.
Company officials said that after hiring the right people and updating their technology, the next stop was building a brand that would help sell their Chattanooga story to the rest of the country.
Scott Downes, chief technology officer at Bellhops, said the data the company has collected through their moves in the past seven years has also helped them rise to a certain level of sophistication not seen from competitors.
"We have the ability to match the right mover with the right jobs — we often compare it to a dating service," Downes explained.
By answering a few, select questions online, like how many years a customer has lived at their current location, Downes said they are able to determine with a high degree of accuracy how long a move will take and how many movers should be there.
"As we collect more data, we get more accurate," he said. "The main goal is to deliver the most friendly and high-quality move we can."
Contact staff writer Allison Shirk at firstname.lastname@example.org, @Allison_Shirk or 423-757-6651.