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Argo Transport – a business for sale

Feb 05, 2017
The Mover doesn’t usually write articles about businesses for sale; discretion is usually too important and some companies require anonymity until genuine interest is expressed. But there are exceptions. When Rod Goulsbra from Argo Transport in Cheshire got in touch, Steve Jordan went to investigate.

Just a stone’s throw from Macclesfield is the quiet town of Bollington on the southern edge of the Peak District, on the banks of the River Dean.  Locally it’s known as ‘Happy Valley’.  As a committed long distance walker it’s an area of the country that gets the heart racing a little as memories of long days battling the elements come flooding back. 

The yard and small warehouse is by the side of the Macclesfield canal, another nostalgic moment as I had holidayed there with friends only a few months earlier. Rod was there waiting, just back from moving a piano for a regular customer and having left his afternoon free so that we could chat. 

The warehouse is small with around 100 containers.  It stacks 2½ high between the ironwork and Rod has some bespoke, half-sized containers to allow him to take full advantage of the available space.    

Rod started the company in April 1973.  He kept it small on purpose, preferring a hands-on approach rather than global domination.  Although the company has been bigger in the past, today it’s just him and his foreman of 35 years who do most of the work with hired help when needed.  Rod has always made a good living out of the business but now, at the age of 65, he’s decided to look for a buyer for Argo Removals and, if someone offers the right money, the warehouse as well.       

Argo’s main asset is its reputation and its affluent and extensive catchment area.  Rod said that he’s only ever had one damage claim from a customer, a statistic that he is confident that his insurer, Basil Fry, will verify.  Bollington is close to Stockport, Wilmslow, Alderley Edge, Congleton, Buxton and Macclesfield, all part of the ‘footballer’ belt of South Cheshire.  Over the years Rod’s built an excellent reputation with these wealthy and demanding customers.  Amongst his regular customers he includes Richard Wright (Arsenal, Everton and Manchester City); Scott Sinclair (Celtic and Great Britain); and, most famously, Wayne Rooney, the England Captain (but maybe not by the time we go to press!).  He’s also moved cyclist Reg Harris (former world sprint champion) and Alex Higgins (former world snooker champion) several times and celebrity chef – Michael O’ Hare.   

He was a BAR member for several years but left when, as he put it, “they started telling me which way to stick on the stickers”.  He said his customers are not interested in BAR membership.  “Just a good website and a good reputation is all you need.”  He may be right, but I always think you get as much out of BAR membership as you are prepared to put in.  You can make it work for you if you have a mind to do so.  He’s right about the website though.  It’s not flashy but it’s easy to understand and, I suspect, works well for him.  

So, is it worth putting in an offer for Rod’s business?  Well I’m no expert but it seems to me that if the reputation is as good as Rod claims it to be it must be worth considering, if only for the goodwill and the familiar name.  His annual turnover, something in excess of £100,000, is clearly enough to sustain an income as a separate entity; but add that to the portfolio of an established regional or national company, with minimal increase in overheads, and it begins to make even more sense.   

My recommendation: if you are in the market to buy a small, established moving company, take a look.  See the advert on the Must See page for more details.   

Photo:  Rod Goulsbra

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