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Friday, Jun 9, 2023

Fast Track

JUDY SHAY Contributing Reporter Robert J. Goodman had a solid job as vice president of a Los Angeles-based moving company in 1985 when he decided to pack it up and venture out on his own, selling cardboard boxes of all things. “I had just had a baby four months before and had bought a house six months before,” Goodman said. “But I decided to take my $3,000 savings and see what I could do on my own. People told me I was crazy. Everyone thought I would fail.” Today, Goodman is the founder and chief executive of Woodland Hills-based Box Brothers Corp., a company that provides cardboard boxes to people on the move and specializes in packing and shipping everything from artwork to car parts. The company, which grew from 16 employees in 1993 to 40 employees today, generated $2.4 million in revenues last year and is on track to bring in $3.5 million this year. Last year, there were eight company-owned Box Brothers stores and nine licensee stores, which are owned by former Box Brothers employees who pay Goodman a fee each month for using the name. This year, three more company stores and one more licensee store have been added. The first two out-of-state stores have opened in Las Vegas. “Our plan is to open two stores a month in 1999,” Goodman said. “I’d like to bring (annual revenues) to $10 million and become a mid-sized company.” Box Brothers President Mark S. Frydman said Goodman saw an unmet need a company that supplies boxes at convenient locations and ships smaller items and stepped in to fill the gap. “It’s not an accident that (Goodman’s) vision and hard work have resulted in such a great company,” said Frydman, who joined Box Brothers four years ago. “We’ve been successful because we’ve always put our customers first. We work the old-fashioned way to satisfy our customers any way we can.” Box Brothers carries more than 200 different sizes of boxes, and clerks help customers calculate how many boxes it will take to handle their move. Goodman said the number of companies selling boxes has skyrocketed in recent years, with Box Brothers competing against the likes of U-Haul and the major home improvement stores. The key to Box Brothers’ success has been to locate its stores in upscale retail areas, where the company caters to a mostly female clientele who stop in to pick up a few boxes during their regular shopping rounds. Goodman also hires secret shoppers to go into his stores to sample the customer service, and he offers bonuses and other incentive programs when stores meet their monthly revenue goals. Most of the company’s business comes from walk-in traffic. Box Brothers has company stores in Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Redondo Beach, Lomita, Burbank, El Segundo and Las Vegas, and is opening one this month in Westlake Village. The company also operates a warehouse where it specializes in packaging and shipping items that are too big for most people to ship on their own and too small for a moving company to handle. Items that weigh less than 1,500 pounds are accepted. Little Folk Art, a Santa Monica-based furniture maker, has used Box Brothers to pack and ship its custom-made orders for the past seven years. Mitchell Salzman, vice president of Little Folk Art, said he uses Box Brothers because its prices are fair and the service is good. “We’ve tried using UPS, but there are always problems. You’re pretty much just a number,” he said. “With Box Brothers, they handle us in a more custom way, which relates to our business and to our customers.” In July, Box Brothers was at the home of singer Dionne Warwick, packing items for her. It also packaged a Dr. Seuss book that had been given to the late George Burns by the author, and shipped the book to the Smithsonian, Frydman said. Box Brothers also packaged and sent attorney F. Lee Bailey’s desk from Los Angeles back to Florida after the infamous O.J. Simpson trial. People have hired the company to package and ship automobile fenders and even a roller rink, which weighed 8,000 pounds, an exception to the company’s usual 1,500-pound limit. “We’ve packaged and shipped just about anything you can think of,” Goodman said. “Nothing is bizarre any more.” Randy Williams of Compton-based CDS Moving Equipment Inc., which supplies boxing materials to Box Brothers and other such companies, said Box Brothers is among his fastest-growing customers. “The increase in business has been phenomenal,” Williams said. “Every month, the orders keep increasing, and it’s not the busy season yet.” Looking back, Goodman said that even though people thought he was crazy to start selling cardboard boxes, he always knew he’d succeed. “I took a risk, but it was a calculated risk,” he said. “I knew I could fulfill an unmet need out there.”

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