Letter From Gloria Pugh to Professional Movers Association of Florida Members

I am honored to have been elected president of our industry’s state association, the Professional Movers Association of Florida (PMAF).  Before I share with you PMAF’s vision of the potential of our collective future, I must reflect on the history of this association and the individuals who have served it. The Florida Movers and Warehousemen Association, now known as the Professional Movers Association of Florida, was founded in 1979 by Bob West, Capitol City Moving and Storage in Tallahassee, Florida. Coincidentally, I am the successor to the business he founded and the first woman to lead the association Mr. West founded. Mr. West died on April 9, 2020 at 91 years old. Two other men who currently serve on the association’s board, past president, Andy Newitt, A-1 Moving & Storage and treasurer, Jim Duncan, HUB Insurance, are the longest serving board members. Andy and Jim have devoted much of their time in ensuring the association continues serving its members and consumers by keeping the association operating through the Great Recession and into today. We owe much appreciation to these three men and countless others in shaping our industry.

The PMAF Board recently met to discuss our association’s value proposition. We realize we can do better to serve our valued members and will be putting action behind these words. PMAF will advocate, collaborate, educate and celebrate on behalf of all our members.

Navigating a global pandemic has been tough and yet our industry has risen above the daily challenges COVID-19 presents in operating our businesses, ensuring our employees are safe and our clients receive exceptional services. The pandemic added another layer of pain to an already taxing and complicated job we execute every day. It takes a unique, patient and resilient individual to do what we do in operating our moving companies. I recognize this very well; we experience highs and lows within seconds of each other. Most days, we hit the ground running and are time impoverished. With such limited time, we often neglect our industry’s challenges with brokers and rogue operators. I believe all of us have lost jobs to rogue operators and while it stings to lose a job to a licensed reputable colleague, it’s infuriating to lose a job to a rogue operator.

The reality is our members cannot compete with these rogue operators and we certainly can do without the middleman, brokers. To be clear, I am not referring to reputable move management companies, I am referring to brokers with their fancy websites and fraudulent rates who refer unsuspecting consumers to a stable of rogue operators who do not provide an adequate level of care to their customers during the moving process.  PMAF and all of us on the board are  working to address this challenge with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, as well as several other entities. We are in the process of establishing relationships with industries who work closely with ours to educate consumers on the perils of unlicensed and licensed rogue operators.

Currently, there are over 1200 licensed moving companies in the state of Florida.  Among the 1200 licensed moving companies, there are many reputable, professional moving companies like yourselves. Unfortunately, there are too many licensed moving companies who are making our industry, making us, look bad and we need to change that. I, along with PMAF, will be advocating on your behalf to level the playing field.

PMAF will not be a mixed bag association, our membership will consist exclusively of reputable, licensed professional movers; movers you can trust.

Education is key to any business owner’s success. PMAF is excited to now be hosting a Lunch & Learn series featuring educational topics of interest in the moving industry. Our inaugural Lunch & Learn was held February 25, 2021; the topic was Independent Contractor Rule. I personally attended and learned quite a few things.

PMAF is also working on a forum for collaboration between our members. As I mentioned, our association is only interested in moving companies and affiliates who model the association’s values of integrity and commitment to customer service.

We want to ensure our members are collaborating with the best in our industry.  Our goal is for our members to have relationships with licensed, reputable, professional movers throughout Florida.  We can learn from each other and work with each other.

As reflected on the PMAF website: we are a group of dedicated, passionate men and women who work in the moving industry in Florida. We are professionals who seek to excel in our chosen profession and give back to the industry that has given so much to us. We exist in order to best serve consumers and our community.

Speaking of women, I embrace and celebrate the females leading their moving companies and am honored to have been elected as this association’s first woman president. Ladies, there is much we can learn from each other – stay tuned!

Finally, we want to celebrate you and your business. PMAF wants to loudly broadcast your milestones and all the great deeds our members do for our respective communities throughout the state. Our collective voices must drown out and rise above the bad press associated with brokers and rogue operators.

Florida is the third largest state, we are the 17th largest economy in the world, we are 5th in GDP in the USA and annually, our industry’s economic impact is over a billion dollars – my friends, we have a lot of muscle to flex. Florida has many opportunities for all of us. As your President, I and the board are committed to working hard to achieve these goals, but we cannot do this alone. We need your help. We are all working together in the same industry and often independently of each other. We must recognize this collective power and strength as a united membership of professional movers of Florida. Together, we can champion the challenges in our industry, we can develop strategic partnerships and thereby create more opportunities for our growth and success.

How can you help? Report all unlicensed and rogue operators to the association.  Participate in the Lunch & Learn. Call me directly at 850-877-7131 or email me at gloria@amwatmovers.com to share your concerns and ideas. Alternatively, you can email the PMAF office at cory@professionalmoversofflorida.org. Help us grow this association by referring reputable, professional moving companies.  Send us your great news.

Together, we can, and we will shape a better future.

Gloria Pugh

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