Long term, Summit County mover sees opportunity for a mountain empire
Summit County entrepreneur Paul LaFontaine is moving on the moving business, recently acquiring Freedom Movers in Breckenridge after previously buying Majestic Mountain Movers in Silverthorne not long ago.
According to LaFontaine, he had been looking for opportunities get into the industry about five years ago, when he already owned a home in Breckenridge and a broker introduced him to the owners of the Silverthorne business.
LaFontaine’s businesses primarily serve homeowners in Summit County, providing all the usual moving services like packing, storage, moving and delivery.
They receive items too, in which people might order new furniture and have it delivered to, and inspected by, the movers before they take it to its final destination.
“It’s all of those activities around the homeowner here who is either refurbishing, moving out or moving in,” LaFontaine said. “It’s oftentimes second-homeowners, but we provide all those services for those kind of folks.”
The movers have no problem doing the heavy lifting on something like a full-size pool table, but they can also wrap champagne flutes, said LaFontaine. The businessman paints his business with a broad brush and says he hopes to make it reach even further in the not too distant future.
First up, he said, will be a new mobile storage option, in which LaFontaine’s movers will drop off containers to be filled up before they’re picked up and put into storage. “Majestic Mobile Storage,” he said, giving a name to the new option. “We’re going to launch that in the spring,”
The owner isn’t quite ready yet to say exactly where the storage facility might be, but he’s confident in his timeline.
“I can’t say yet, but we’ll keep in touch and I’ll be announcing that shortly,” he said. “I want to make sure that it all comes together, but we are going to secure a facility and grow our storage tremendously.”
Right now, they have about 23,000 square feet of storage space, and they’re looking to roughly triple it, he said.
And that’s just the beginning of LaFontaine’s bigger designs.
“Long term, (the) plan is to make Summit County a headquarters for a specialist moving company for ski and lake towns,” he said.
This could mean expanding into places like Vail, Aspen or beyond, LaFontaine said. “Anywhere there’s a lake or ski slope that’s over an hour from a big city, it’s an opportunity to provide the type of service we provide.”
In sharing his long-term vision, LaFontaine was careful not to get too far ahead of himself, saying that right now, he’s focused on careful, measured growth, which he expects to happen, in addition to the new storage facility, sometime next year.
Still, the business owner has a history of buying “companies through structured sourcing, diligence and straightforward (mergers and acquisitions) process,” according to his LinkedIn profile, which lists LaFontaine’s work with online products, social networks, software distribution, retail publishing and corporate chain outlets, just to name a few.
He describes his experience in the business world as “bringing technology to manual industries.” There’s no app to move a couch, LaFontaine said, but for the technology-driven professional, there’s something special about real, concrete work and how it can benefit from modern advancements.
Relaying one of his experiences in ticket distribution, which LaFontaine characterized as “basically mailing pieces of paper,” he saw it as a chance to help digitize and reorganize the whole process to take it all online.
LaFontaine knows experts have predicted the moving and transportation industries will be two sectors least affected by new technology, but “moving can take advantage of technology too,” he said.
“So I wanted to bring some of my experience to an industry that is very manual, very real and very needed,” LaFontaine explained. “People like their stuff. They need to transport their stuff. They need to store their stuff, and it’s an opportunity to mix those two worlds together.”
One thing he won’t mix, however, is the names of his businesses. The Majestic Mountain Movers brand has existed since 1994, he said, and the current team has been in place for about two years now.
At the same time, LaFontaine plans on keeping the Freedom Movers brand in Breckenridge separate from Majestic Mountain Movers for Silverthorne because he believes that people know and respect the brand and want its services to remain much the way they’ve been in the past.
LaFontaine said it’s a highly specialized moving market up here, with an estimated 70 percent of homes being sold already furnished.
Because of that, he said, the one-size-fits-all approach to moving that works in bigger cities doesn’t go over nearly so well in Summit. Instead, mountain movers have to plan better, be more flexible and provide more options for homeowners, who are often only moving a subset of their items instead of everything altogether.
As a veteran, LaFontaine also devotes time and resources to supporting others service members as they transition out of the armed forces.
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