Most Trusted in Transport.
In accounting of challenges endured and overcome before his emergence as one of America’s most celebrated motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar once said, “It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action and discipline that enabled us to follow through.” Strength of character, uncompromising commitment and the discipline to deliver service that doesn’t just satisfy, but exceeds expectations, has also enabled a Texas-based transport operation to emerge with both national recognition and respect as the complete solution in relocation services.
With its fleet of more than 100 trucks and more than 400,000 square feet of warehousing space spread among the cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, Electronic Data Carriers (aka EDC Moving Systems) is regarded as “The Texas Connection” when it comes to both residential and commercial relocation services, transport logistics or projects involving ultra-sensitive efficiency in the moving, tracking and distribution of specialty goods. Additionally, as an agent for Atlas Van Lines, the company provides comprehensive services relating to moves throughout the United States and the world.
Driven to Deliver
When looking into the operations of remarkably successful companies, more often than not, one will find equally remarkable people of exceptional drive and determination, and this is a fundamental aspect in any account of what has been achieved by Electronic Data Carriers.
The company was established in 1976 by George Gilbert, a man who has been formerly honored as “Leader of the Year” by the Texas Motor Transportation Association. On that occasion, TMTA President John Esparza described Gilbert as “one of those extraordinary people you meet in life who leads by his actions – true leadership, not the talked-about kind.”
When Gilbert was only a few months old, his father died in an automobile accident. He grew up humbly, but rich with the love, encouragement and support of a single, working mother who was devoted to church and a cherished rose garden. She supported the family through the sale of eggs, vegetables and fruit grown on a local farm, but tragically died when Gilbert was a teenager. He stayed busy at school, but also laboriously toiled taking on varying odd jobs. In the case of one customer for whom he mowed the yard, his only compensation was a glass of iced tea and a slice of pie, yet even for this, he was grateful. Gilbert excelled in his studies, went on to complete junior college and was on his way to the University of Houston when the draft designated him for duty in Vietnam. He ultimately secured the rank of sergeant, was a correspondent for Stars & Stripes, and survived two separate helicopter crashes during his time in the service. Upon returning home, Gilbert landed a job with a transportation enterprise where he worked for some six years until a disagreement with the employer led to his parting company. Unemployed and unsure as to his next step, Gilbert soon determined that he would launch his own transport initiative and conduct the business in accordance with the values that had been instilled in him by his mother and his faith.
His company started with a single pickup truck, a small 1,000 square-foot warehouse unit and Gilbert making a lot of sales calls. He secured enough business to compel his purchase of a larger truck after some six weeks of opening, purchased by using a farm tractor for collateral. And by then, he had already determined a strategy that he was confident would help separate him from competition.
“When we started the company, it was very unique,” says Gilbert. “Computers were just coming of age, but they were big and bulky and a lot of companies didn’t want to move them.”
As Gilbert wasn’t one to pass on a job that needed doing, he spread the word around local moving companies and office centers that should such equipment need to be moved, he was the man for the job. As Gilbert’s reputation grew among the professional community, so too did the business. “As a new start up, there wasn’t a lot of money for advertising, so we relied on word of mouth… and that can be good or bad, but if you do a good job, the word will spread. We have to be professional in what we do. It’s important to never have a bad reputation,” says Gilbert.
In less than two years, the company had grown to include offices in Dallas/Fort Worth, then later to San Antonio, and was soon serving the entire state of Texas. That growth was born from Gilbert’s attention to customer relationships and commitment to doing just what he said he would do in a timely, safe and trustworthy manner. Though his company has grown to employ hundreds of people who annually serve thousands of residential and commercial office relocation clients throughout the country, the principles of service, safety and honesty are as integral to operations today as they were when the company began. Yet, adding to these qualities are critical measures of capability achieved through the acquisition of specialized equipment, highly trained staff and a corporate culture that fosters communication as well as commitment for all to be the best they can be.
The EDC Difference
A modest man, Gilbert is more inclined to talk about the people that comprise his team at EDC and credits them for helping grow the company into what it is today. “This is the most important thing in any business, having good people who want to work, who have a heart to do the right thing,” he says. “Doing the right thing not only involves learning about the material resources of the company and systems catered to the transport requirements of the precious cargo entrusted to EDC for moving; it also involves training on interacting with people and strengthening traits of character. This training is ultimately reflected in the professional and respectful manner in which employees engage customers. Gilbert says it is also translated in the company’s constant focus on assuring that everything is just as it needs to be before, during and after a move. Their philosophy and foremost focus involves making sure their customers are happy to such a degree that should they even need service again, they would want to work with EDC.”
Yet, whether it is a family’s furniture and prized heirlooms of antiquity or a company’s composite of sophisticated computer equipment, to move items safely and efficiently requires certain expertise and investment in specialized resources. It is in this capacity that EDC has also proven superior.
VP and San Antonio General Manager Gary Hendley explains that EDC has consistently invested in solutions that specifically serve to simplify complexities of moving sensitive equipment. That has included the acquisition of modified trucks complemented by high-capacity lift gates, suspension and, in some cases, refrigerated trailers for equipment that is heat-sensitive.
Gilbert says what is even more critical for effective service to customers, is having the ability to rapidly track and access information pertinent to the inventory being transported. “Imagine when you’re moving a major office complex and it has numerous computers and tape drives with different serial numbers. You have to be sure that you’re delivering the right product to the right place,” says Gilbert. EDC employs one of the most sophisticated, computerized inventory systems, customized for their operation, which allows them to quickly and conveniently track what is coming in, what is going out, who it is going to, and all manner of detail relative to each item of transport.
Austin Branch Manager, Casey Bridges, explains that relocation services typically are a low margin, high-competition enterprise. He says through the incorporate of the technology on which EDC relies, the company has been able to increase efficiency and reduce production costs. This, in turn, helps spare customers from added costs as well as headaches.
Personable & Professional
Yet for all the technological innovations deployed to efficiently deliver service to its customers, Jim Harris at EDC’s Dallas Branch says technology can never fully replace the value of professional, personal interaction. “Some companies use technology to take personal service out of the equation, but I think we’re seeing the pendulum swing the other way. We believe that in order to give the customer more than what they’re paying for requires a personal touch.”
Therefore, when EDC is entrusted with relocating a home or office, it is common to find their crew returning to those spaces which have been emptied, and proceed to clean the floors and tidy it up to make it more accommodating for whomever enters after they depart. It means that when movers are on site, they spend their time working, not cutting-up or taking smoke breaks, but diligently following through with all they are intended to do. That personal touch also heavily relies on communication and counsel to the client.
Houston Branch Manager, Tim Barber explains, “There are more elements to every move than just moving equipment or furniture. For companies, there is the technology side that involves tracking inventories. For families that are moving, there are concerns about schools, mail forwarding, dynamics of the city they’re moving to, and we provide them with information they want and need. This all helps us to provide a complete solution in all aspects of relocation.”
CFO Pat Nurre agrees and says, “It is important to tell customers what to expect, both in terms of what we’re going to do and what is expected from them.”
And in some cases, customers may not exactly want to hear what they need to hear, as Gilbert says, “Telling people the truth, sometimes, doesn’t win you business.” Sometimes, customers may not fully understand the requirements of transporting delicate cargo. In some cases, they may not want to accept the necessity of insuring their goods, which is the ounce of prevention worth pounds of cure in transportation. Gilbert asserts how critical it is to have a quality insurance provider in his industry and he credits Mondics Insurance with helping EDC and its clients mitigate risks. He says Mondics imparts another level of expertise to the services provided by EDC.
In terms of other professional partnerships, Nurre says EDC’s affiliation with Atlas Van Lines will be integral to the company’s strategy to secure more national accounts. “We find Atlas Van Lines to be an excellent partner.”
Gilbert says in wanting to fulfill market needs involving relocation of executive and employees, there were synergies in the standards embraced by both EDC and Atlas, which resonated into his reasoning to align with that service. “Atlas in well known internationally, and we’ve met their standards to become an authorized agent,” says Gilbert, adding that in order to qualify, companies must demonstrate their adherence to safe operational standards and rigorous attention to detail when hiring, assuring that drivers pass drug screens and criminal background checks.
And at the end of every move, the EDC personal touch includes their signature follow-up. Gilbert again asserts, “We go back after move is completed and make sure all is OK.” At EDC, there is something just as critical as the job with which they’re tasked – it’s assuring the customer is happy with the way they went about performing the job.
As much as clients demand the fulfilling of performance expectations, Gilbert has made that an essential aspect of operations at EDC. He routinely gathers staff for annual celebrations, where staff in each department are acknowledged and honored for their accomplishments as well as their service to customers as well as the company. The mission of EDC is to provide a profitable partnership with its customers and maintain an environment where employees strive to be everything they can be. To be sure, Gilbert doesn’t simply insist on quality performance of his staff, but he demands the same of himself. He says that he is less interested in talking the talk, but actually walking the walk and leading by example.
Through Gilbert’s exemplary commitment to service, hard work and disciplined integrity, Electronic Data Carriers has grown into one of the most dynamic companies in the transportation industry. Gilbert offers this insight that serves well in any business. “You have to be absolutely honest with the people you work with. You cannot lie. You cannot cheat them. People have to trust you. They have to know that you’re a man of your word, and when they do… it makes it easier for them to want to work with you.”