In July 1927, Indiana grocer Conrad M. Gentry and his friend Don F. Kenworthy founded Mayflower Transit Co. in Indianapolis, Ind., as an alternative to railroads for customers who were interested in moving their belongings across the country on the newly-paved roads. The new enterprise became known for providing safe door-to-door pickup and delivery. In 1928, Burnside Smith added capital and management expertise, reincorporated the business as Aero Mayflower Transit Company, and set the standard for the new enterprise: “To have the best company…and the best people…offering the best services.”
During the early thirties, Mayflower entered into agreements with a network of local household goods movers who owned storage warehouses. Using this new program, Mayflower was able to provide customers with better service at both origin and destination. Baltimore Storage Company was appointed as Mayflower’s first exclusive agent. By 1932, 85 agents adorned their vans with Mayflower’s nationally trademarked logo and painted them in Mayflower’s vivid colors. As the decade ended, annual revenues neared the $2 million mark, and more than 340 agents became affiliated with Mayflower.
Operating on a 24-hour schedule, Mayflower moved thousands of families of industrial and military personnel who were being mobilized during World War II. When the war ended, America and Mayflower prospered. Always striving to offer the best in service, Mayflower replaced single-unit trucks with more advanced tractor-trailers and extended its transportation service to Mexico and Canada.
Celebrating its silver anniversary in 1952, Mayflower launched another initiative to add to the company’s capacity and increase the efficiency of its operation — “owner-operators” who owned their own tractors but pulled Mayflower-owned trailers. These movers were trained in “mover’s school,” learning expert packing, handling and loading methods used throughout the Mayflower system. Mayflower also established new standards for protecting household goods by eliminating the shredded paper and wooden barrels of the past and introducing new scientifically sized, corrugated cushion packs, along with the Mayflower slogan “Packed with Pride.” As more businesses relocated and sought expert transportation services, Mayflower was there to move entire companies or transferred employees, which dramatically increased Mayflower’s business. In addition to the household goods aspect of the moving business, trade exhibits and conventions also began to need Mayflower’s expertise in transporting their shipments from city to city on nationwide tours.
As business continued to expand beyond household goods shipping, Mayflower established a special fleet of van operators and vehicles to handle sensitive shipments such as complex computer systems, electronics and high-tech exhibits. Mayflower’s network of agents increased to more than 650 in the United States and several hundred more abroad. When Mayflower moved its headquarters to a new, modern campus in Carmel, Ind., it also expanded its driver training school, teaching new recruits everything from precise techniques in packing and loading to completing necessary paperwork.
During the eighties, Mayflower continued improving its service to customers. The introduction of “The Mayflower Answerline” gave relocating families access to “helpful hint” recorded messages over the telephone. Major technological advances, including the addition of computerized operations systems, voicemail and electronic claims handling, added to the quality Mayflower offers its customers. In 1986, Aero Mayflower became Mayflower Transit, Inc., and resisted a hostile takeover attempt through a management-led, leveraged buy-out which took the company private. As it approached the 1990s, it was taken public once more.
The nineties brought further significant changes to Mayflower. The van line updated its image through the application of a dramatic new paint scheme to its vans and signage. National studies confirmed that Mayflower had the highest unaided brand name recognition in the moving industry. The company debuted the “Discover America” program through which children in agent-sponsored classrooms learn geography by following the travels of a van operator. In March 1995, it was acquired by UniGroup, Inc., becoming part of the nation’s largest moving and storage services provider. Soon thereafter, Mayflower launched its Internet site, www.mayflower.com, and its agents began to benefit from operational policies and strategies established by an all-agent board of directors.
As Mayflower turned the calendar page into a new century, its fortunes appeared brighter than ever, with the best-known name in the moving industry; record volume in key business segments; agents embracing the hauling aspect of moving and qualifying for associated revenues; a Board of Directors composed entirely of agents, the majority owners of Mayflower agencies; and a management team committed to the future of Mayflower as a viable part of the UniGroup family of companies. A major enhancement to agent compensation enacted in 2002, Mayflower’s 75th year, offered additional incentives and opportunities for growth, ensuring a solid future for a company which, in the moving industry, has often set the pace; always remained resolute in the face of obstacles and challenges; and consistently demonstrated the timeliness of Mayflower’s founding standard — “To have the best company…and the best people…offering the best services.”
Experience, leadership and dedication — that’s what the Mayflower Transit name means. Mayflower’s past achievements are highly recognizable, and it continues today to strive to be the best in the business. Over the years, Mayflower has handled millions of moves. And its customers know that Mayflower is a name they can trust for reliable, quality service — after all, Mayflower has been doing this for more than seven decades. Although what the company has accomplished in the past has given it a solid foundation, it is always looking for ways to improve. Mayflower’s technological capabilities are ever-expanding, keeping it on the leading edge within its industry and continuing to provide its customers with the outstanding service they have come to expect.