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Turning moving upside down

Aug 18, 2014
If you have ever met Fred Delahaye you will remember. He’s not the kind of chap who fades into the background. He’s smart, cool, steeped in the moving industry, and a free spirit. Steve Jordan joined him for a little shared inspiration.

 

It’s very hard to meet Fred Delahaye without coming away inspired in some way.  In the last forty years I have met more moving men than I can remember.  Some I have been happy to forget.  Most I have enjoyed talking to.  A few have been genuinely inspirational: Paul Evans, Michael Gerson, Tom Ansley, Eric Lim, Bill Graebel … and others.  Fred would be modestly embarrassed if I put him into the latter category, and at his youthful age it is perhaps a touch early, but he’s definitely on the waiting list.

 

In some ways, Fred’s introduction to the moving business was as traditional as it could be. He was brought up on the trucks working for his mother’s company, Delahaye Moving in Surrey, for 18 years.  Many other moving men owe their career choice to a similar introduction.  But rather than take on the family business, Fred decided he wanted to do things differently.  He wanted to do them his way.

 

In 2009 Fred started his business FD Platinum.  He admits that he was lucky.  Working in the industry had introduced him to some influential people.  He was able to move in the right circles.  Rub shoulders with the rich and famous.  Work for people who knew what they wanted and were willing to pay.

 

His brochure talks about sports stars, villas, fine arts and claims that “Whatever you need, and wherever you need it from, we can get it to your yacht instantly”.  I have little doubt that he can.  It’s not a world with which your average mover is very familiar.

 

The FD Platinum service offers everything anyone could possible want from a moving company as part of a menu-driven service.  “We provide the single point of contact that everyone promises but never supplies and are available 24-hours a day,” said Fred. “We have maid services, chauffeurs, interior design and much more.  Some movers have always done this but when relo came along all the warm fuzzy stuff got drawn that way. Our aim is to make sure that everyone gets what they want and, if the guy at the top wants pampering, he gets that too.” 

 

“Is there anything you wouldn’t do?”  I asked.  “No,” said Fred, after a respectable pause.  “Sometimes you just have to step outside and give it a try.”

 

Four years ago Fred was approached by Marc Smet from Gosselin in Belgium.  He asked Fred to help with the removal side of the business and Fred agreed to work there on a consultancy basis while managing FD Platinum remotely with the help of Andrew Cummins, previously of 360, who joined the company.

 

Fred realised that the world of moving was changing.  No longer were corporations allowing assignees to ship containers full of household effects for three year contracts.  Today’s corporate mover was young, mobile, and probably moving for cultural experience and gratification, on a six-month temporary assignment.  Baggage was the business to be in.  He realised too that most European companies, had no real offering for these people.

 

So enters Go Group to the market.  “It had to be something new, something young and cool,” said Fred.  And cool indeed it seems to be.  The plan was to provide corporate efficiency and service to the baggage market … with extras.  Extras such as organising visas, providing a pre-paid credit card, a SIM card, money exchange, a boutique packed with travel accessories, and as much of an added value service as the client was prepared to pay for.  Everything, as much as possible, handled online. 

 

When we launched the service I explained it to one of my corporate clients,” said Fred.  “They asked me why.  I said because it will save you money and make your life easier.  They worked out that we saved them around Euro 6,000 on every assignment.  We handled 80 temporary assignments for the company that year.”

 

So there we have it.  A mini empire that provides a one-stop-shop for anyone moving anything anywhere.  Go Baggage for the student, temporary assignee, transferee with limited goods or a relocation cap that wants more than an ordinary baggage service; Go Corporate for the more traditional moving services and move management services; and FD Platinum for those for whom money is of less value than service and convenience.

 

Which brings me to the title of this piece: ‘Turning moving upside down’.  How so?  Well, it doesn’t seem very long ago that the international moving industry was split into two broad categories: the corporate market that was purely service oriented, where moves were larger, where price was unimportant, where contracts were long lasting and where the cash was to be made; and the private (migrant) market, that was price sensitive, intensely competitive, easy to enter and where margins were slashed every day. 

 

Using Fred’s model it seems to be the other way about.  The corporate market has become more like an up-market baggage service where assignees spend allowances just as private customers; the real money is made from high-worth private individuals who want the best and are happy to pay for it; and the migrant business remains sandwiched in the middle. 

 

Fred freely admits that it will probably change again.  The trick, as always, is to see the change taking place (predict it if you are really bright), and get on the front of the wave.  Meanwhile, to all those who have told me over the years that there is no money in removals – well there clearly is, it just depends how you think about it.


Photo:  Fred Delahaye



Frederic Delahaye presents
Go Corporate at London’s ExCel

 

Frederic Delahaye, Director of the Belgium-based Go Group, gave a presentation of the company’s new global travel services for corporate clients at The Global Mobility - Enterprise, Talent & Travel Show in London on 15 May.

 

Frederic explained that the new Go Corporate service has been tailor-made to cater for all the needs of people travelling on temporary assignments to overseas locations and includes visas, insurance, baggage tracking, local SIM cards, excess baggage, and many other essential services to make travel and relocation easier. The Go Corporate service also provides reports and budgeting tools to assist HR managers manage their assignees’ expenses while on the move.

 

“The Go Group is part of the Gosselin Group, an international moving and logistics business with 48 offices in 32 countries and gives us a great platform to take care of assignees’ needs all over the world,” said Frederic.

 To learn more visit www.go-group.com

Photo: Frederic speaking at the ExCeL


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