In this episode The Dircks share their experience scaling a logistics company.

Arizona is one of the fastest-growing states in the country with many new residents and companies moving to the state. As well, literally thousands of people are moving every month as companies transition to new offices, people upgrade and downgrade their homes, and students move on and off of college campuses. All of this requires moving support and logistics which is where Dircks comes in.

A truly Arizona-born and grown brand, Dircks – a family-owned business – has provided moving and logistics for residential and commercial needs for over 3 decades. Today we talked with Rick Dircks – Executive Vice President – and Matt Dircks, VP of Business Services about their experience and learnings of growing one of Arizona’s largest and most beloved moving and logistics companies.

Learn more about Dircks Moving & Logistics over on their website: https://dircks.com/

Contact: Mike Jones mike@resoundcreative.com Rick Dircks: rdircks@dircks.com Matt Dircks mdircks@dircks.com

Discuss at https://www.facebook.com/azbrandcast/

The show is recorded at the Resound offices in ever-sunny Tempe, Arizona (the 48th – and best state of them all).

Show Transcript

Mike Jones:
This is The AZ Brandcast where we explore Arizona’s brand and the brands that make Arizona. I’m Mike Jones.

Mike Jones:
Hey everyone. Thanks for another episode of AZ Brandcast. I’m Mike Jones, your host today. And today I’m super excited to have two amazing Arizona business leaders and community builders here in the valley. We’ve got Rick Dircks and Matt Dircks from Dircks Moving & Logistics. Very excited to have both of you on. Rick is Executive Vice President and Matt is Vice President of Business Services for the company. And Dircks, if you’ve not heard of them … Which I think a lot of people have. If you’re from the valley, from the Arizona area. But if you’re listening in from maybe another part of the country maybe you haven’t heard of them. They have actually grown into Arizona’s largest moving and logistics company and they serve both residential and commercial clients here in Arizona and I believe even outside of Arizona. Is that correct? Because obviously you’ve got to move stuff.

Rick Dircks:
Worldwide. Yep.

Mike Jones:
Worldwide. So Rick and Matt, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Matt Dircks:
Thank you.

Rick Dircks:
Thanks for having us Mike.

Mike Jones:
Excited for this conversation. So I’ll let you guys start. Rick, maybe you start. Just give us a little bit of background about the company, what you guys do, who you serve. Then we can introduce that way.

Rick Dircks:
Okay, sure. We are 31 years old now. We started off, my brother and I, Chip, started the business back in 1990. We’ve kind of grown and evolved from what once was really predominantly a family residential mover into much more broad base. Now we do a lot of those kind of moves and you alluded to earlier where we do it. We do it all over the world. So most of our customer base is Arizona but we handle moves anywhere. But we’ve now grown into … Company does a lot more commercial moving, warehousing, logistics, internet fulfillment. A lot of other things now that with the supply chain like it is the demands have changed greatly in the markets. We’re trying to keep up with it. So we do a lot of things besides just moving people now.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. That’s awesome. And Matt, just kind of give us your perspective too on that and what you’ve seen over the years.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. I came into the business full-time about nine years ago. Almost exactly nine years as well. And just the change. Growing up in the business, knowing about it. We’ve been a van line agent since we began, which allows us to network with other agents all around the country. There’s hundreds of us, there’s thousands of trucks on the road. But the evolution of … As Rick said, our primary business line was residential moving and how much that’s evolved even since I’ve been here in the last nine years. That product mix you could say really changed. And we’ve grown with the market here in Arizona and just tried to be available to grow with our customers and find a service line that allowed us to grow with customers and provide more opportunities for the business as a whole.

Mike Jones:
That’s awesome. As you’ve seen that the service lines evolved and grown over the years, what would you … I know you talked about the customers kind of driving that. What do you see in the market that has kind of driven those increasing demands and those different asks that you’re getting?

Rick Dircks:
I think one of the real big things is just the need for space. The industrial warehousing market has exploded. We’re pushing half a million square feet of space ourselves. A lot of people don’t realize that we’re in the warehouse business and logistics involves warehouse. I think the biggest probably change has been in the market change and the pandemic has really accelerated that a lot. That people buy from home and they need a warehouse to distribute the stuff from so we’ve really gotten involved with that. We’ve gotten really involved with the healthcare industry just needing product on the ground. Because as we all know now, it’s hard to get product into the United States, into Arizona, et cetera so we’ve been kind of riding that wave.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. Tell us a little bit about kind of what happened last year as the pandemic hit and as you guys looked at impact to your business and to your customers. I know we’ve talked in the past a little bit about just how that opened up some new opportunities.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. We’ve been partners with a few of the larger healthcare companies in Arizona for years. Done residential moves, commercial moves, things like that. And what we saw in 2020 was that a lot of the healthcare providers, hospitals are a just in time model. Just in time meaning we order stuff knowing that we’re going to get it right when we need it and it goes straight out to the site. And a lot of times delivered straight out to the site. So although there’s distribution centers some of these products go straight to the hospital, straight to an urgent care, whatever it may be. COVID changed that. They were thrown a curve ball and all of a sudden this just in time-

Mike Jones:
A big one.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. And this just in time wasn’t just in time. The time wasn’t there. When everybody is ordering the exact same item they just couldn’t get it. They couldn’t get the product. So as an example, one of our customers orders a brand of gloves. And they usually, for large hospital, large network, they go to two brands and if they need it, sometimes a third brand where they just kind of check down the list. Well, in 2020 they were going on to number nine and number 10 just in order to get this product with everybody ordering everything at the same time. But where we saw an opportunity was the warehousing part of that. Having a back stock is a necessity now. It used to be a want of a lot of these providers and now it’s they have to because something may pop and they need product and they need a lot more of it than they ever did.

Matt Dircks:
So we saw an opportunity to warehouse distribute these goods. And one of the things that’s helped us in the market here in Phoenix is there are warehousing companies, there are “logistics companies”, but being a provider that can provide more than one service. So not only can we warehouse the goods, we can deliver the goods. And not only can we deliver the goods in large 53 foot freight trailers, we have local trucks that can get into downtown locations and can make deliveries to an urgent care. And it’s pretty hard as we know to deliver with a big freight trailer in some of these places. So to have the local trucks, to have the local man power to do things like that’s kind of differentiated us.

Rick Dircks:
Yeah. And that’s pretty much … What he’s talking mostly is the PPE. We’ve got, I don’t know, 10,000 pallets worth of PPE for a hospital so it’s a big number. The other thing I’ll add to that too that really changes, having good partnerships with corporate accounts doing other things. We got into a business we would have never dreamed we would get into is we’ve actually been the ones kitting the majority of COVID text kits. So a couple partners, ASU, Sonora Quest Labs are both two of the largest providers of the COVID test. So we’ve setup programs that we’ve kit … I can’t even tell you the number but it’s a couple million of the kits. So because we already had a partnership going with them and we did ancillary services suddenly we found ourselves, “Can you do this?” And we said sure. And you kind of figure it out as you go. So the pandemic created a lot of challenges, a lot of opportunities so it’s very interesting.

Matt Dircks:
And we’re maybe a larger small business. But the flexibility of our staff, the flexibility of our offerings that we can pivot, go in a different direction and assist where it’s needed has been huge and really paid dividends in 2020 to allow us to help our customers.

Mike Jones:
Has that been kind of a unique attribute of the company for quite some time, that ability to kind of adjust and flex to different clients’ needs?

Matt Dircks:
I’ve only been around the last nine years but what’s exciting for me and really even to step back farther is I wanted nothing to do with the moving business. It’s not the sexiest business I guess you could say. But what’s fun about it and the reason I jumped into it and have gotten all the way in is we are not scared to grow, we’re not to do something different, we’re not scared to take risks. Sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t.

Mike Jones:
That’s why they’re risks.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. Exactly. Why they’re risks. But a lot of people-

Rick Dircks:
No risk, no reward.

Mike Jones:
Exactly.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. And a lot of people just flat out won’t. Won’t grow, won’t take on more projects or more space, whatever that may be and that’s what’s truly exciting to me.

Rick Dircks:
We’re kind of an old fashioned business and with old fashioned business models. And actually one nice thing having Matt on board is he thinks of a different way and all that and we’re willing to tackle things. Now, the downside of that can be as we learned in the pandemic, we were one of the types of industries that a lot of what we do was helped by the pandemic. A lot of industries obviously suffered greatly. So we accepted a lot of things that we normal couldn’t and it came close to burying you. So Matt’s had his share of challenges just because we do have a culture to say yes and we’ve learned we can’t do that or else you can’t provide the same level of service when you just don’t have the resources to do it. And we all know about the labor shortages and all the shortages out there. It’s created a whole bunch of challenges. But also it makes it fun to strap them up and go to work in the morning because-

Mike Jones:
Got something new going on today.

Rick Dircks:
What’s going to hit us today? You never know what’s going to hit you so that’s kind of fun too.

Mike Jones:
You don’t get board.

Matt Dircks:
That is true. Yeah.

Mike Jones:
I know especially last year and probably moving into this year you’ve seen a lot of upheaval in some of these opportunities within the healthcare market. Have you also been seeing similar type changes in other industries as well?

Rick Dircks:
What I’ll comment on because it’s kind of a lot more my world is the house employee relocation side of our business. So moving families because companies are moving them. That came to a screeching halt. Because with work from home companies said we don’t need to bring this employee … Move them from Chicago to Phoenix because they’re working from home anyway. So that business was down about 50%.

Mike Jones:
That’s crazy.

Rick Dircks:
It’s now coming back. What’s been interesting is the residential, the consumer business has gone off the charts and the industry doesn’t have the capacity right now to manage it. It’s been a rough summer for the moving industry as a whole. We have less trucks than we’ve ever had. People don’t want to drive a truck anymore. But the demand has been off the charts just because people go, “Oh, I think I want to move to Oregon,” or they do it because they want to. So that’s created tremendous pressure. So that’s one we didn’t expect it. The rules are changing as you go. So one business dropped off, the other went crazy but the net result is it’s still up.

Mike Jones:
That’s just nuts.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. Nobody could really forecast that pent up demand. We knew people weren’t obviously moving but nobody saw-

Mike Jones:
It was just going to explode once-

Matt Dircks:
The explosion.

Mike Jones:
People were ready.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. And there were stories all summer long of you couldn’t get a U-Haul in California. People were flying to Las Vegas, drive an empty U-Haul back to California to drive it back to wherever they’re going.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. Even I think tail end of last year we were … Or maybe it was earlier this year. We were on the U-Haul site actually doing price comparisons from different cities. And even just seeing what happens when you flip like San Francisco to Phoenix, what’s the price for the U-Haul? And then what is it from Phoenix to San Francisco or from Austin to Phoenix and trying to kind of figure out like where are people moving as kind of like a little bit of a market research-

Rick Dircks:
Yeah. The normal flow which is … In fact the flow is into the sun belt states as a general rule. And the exodus from California. We had another interesting situation because the containers, the overseas container market, that’s changed so much. With so much of the product coming from China and from Asia we were finding that what used to cost to move a container to China could be upwards of $20,000 to $30,000. They’re giving it away basically because they need empty containers back in China because there’s so much pent up demand. So much product is made there. I mean you hear the stories of there’re upwards of 30 full container ships sitting in the Los Angles harbor because they can’t unload them in time.

Mike Jones:
I’ve ordered multiple new things. Like we replaced our refrigerator at the beginning of the summer and we had to wait I think 12 weeks before it could be delivered and installed. And there’s been a couple of other things I’ve ordered that are similar type things.

Rick Dircks:
We all feel it.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. Everybody’s feeling it. Everybody is feeling it. There’s just this pent up demand and a backlog of availability.

Rick Dircks:
Yeah. The supply chain, the people in supply chain have their hands full. You’re in that field. They are busy, busy people right now.

Mike Jones:
Have you seen even that supply chain shifting in terms of people trying to pull more manufacturing or at least warehousing to the US versus maybe when they would have kept it in China until that request was there?

Rick Dircks:
Yes. The problem is the labor. There’s lack of labor. Everyone has an attitude they want to do it. Some are doing it but it’s hard. Because now you need people to build the stuff. I mean a simple example is chlorine tablets. There’s a shortage of chlorine tablets. Part of that was one of the major suppliers had a fire or something. But all it takes is some positive COVID tests and it shuts plants down. I think it’s happening but it’s happening much slower and you might have a better perspective this year.

Matt Dircks:
I think it’s been … Manufacturing’s a long process. It takes a long time to bring that back over here. There’s probably a lot of companies that want to do that. But I think companies are ordering more goods and wanting to store them.

Mike Jones:
Yep. That would make sense to me.

Matt Dircks:
Having that backup. Before, it used to be that was a lost cost. That was dead stock. We’ve all heard that. And now the build time, the shipping time, all of that is also just lost revenue or additional cost so they’re going to store more goods. So we’ve seen that with … We do some furniture installation dorms on campus at ACU student living, things like that where normally these products are manufactured overseas obviously and they could bring stuff over and it was four to six weeks to get an item over. Well, now it’s 12 to who knows how many weeks. And it’s more of a question. I think they’re having to order more product or just plan ahead. Receiving these good months in advance just in case. You never know what’s going to happen.

Rick Dircks:
Well, the same company you’re talking about that we work with, they manufacture their dorm furniture in Vietnam. They had a COVID spike and the plant got shut down. It’s interesting. I think one of the other things that … Your whole point about manufacturing that’s going to be really interesting to watch is TSMC. Which is a big deal coming to Phoenix obviously. The size of that operation. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. And as they build their factory and they’re going to have somewhere … They say 150 suppliers here. Will they be able to build it in the scheduled time they want? Will they be able to employ it? It’s going to be kind of interesting to watch because that’s a lot of people.

Mike Jones:
That’s a lot of people.

Rick Dircks:
Can we support them? Be kind of fun to see.

Matt Dircks:
And another thing that’s happening for Arizona and what’s helping Arizona is even though that product is manufactured overseas before it was shipped into Long Beach or a different port in California, warehoused in California and then shipped from there. Companies are finding out that it is currently cheaper to receive the product on the port in Long Beach, truck it to Arizona, store it in Arizona and then truck it back to California if it needs to. I mean the west side and northeast over by Falcon Field, you’ve seen this explosion of industrial warehousing and buildings and companies are finding out that this is a really good place to have these distribution centers. It’s a six hour drive to LA if it has to go to LA. But we’re also closer to the mid west and the east. So the logistics, the distribution, what we call third party logistics for other companies, we’re seeing that that’s just exploding and as we found out early this year it’s very hard to find land, to find buildings, to find space to grow. There’s some very, very, very large companies coming in and snatching up a lot of that land.

Rick Dircks:
15 years ago we built our main building. It’s 110,000 square feet. That year, that was one of the 10 biggest buildings they built in Phoenix. Now you better be over a million square feet. If you drive on the 303 now it’s amazing the size of the buildings.

Matt Dircks:
They’ve gotten just enormous.

Rick Dircks:
Thank you Amazon.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. Thanks Amazon.

Rick Dircks:
It’s crazy the number of big buildings from all the Dick’s Sporting Goods and TJ Maxx’s and Target’s and Walmarts. I mean we’re a hub for that now which is great for the valley.

Mike Jones:
Have you seen over the years that just the real estate … Our prices obviously tend to be lower than a lot of other places especially when you compare to like California or New York or something like that. Have you seen that be an advantage to some degree in terms of expansion or even just with other companies you’re aware of. Not just your own expansion. When there is land. Obviously right now it’s a little competitive.

Matt Dircks:
Right. Yeah. When we warehouse goods a lot of customers want to pay by the square foot that they’re going to use in your facility. We pass on … There’s obviously overhead and things like that. But when you’re paying 50 to 60 cents a foot in Arizona, the warehousing provider is paying that, it’s a lot easier to charge less than California where it might be Fontana or something like that. I heard the other day it’s $1.50 to $1.70 a foot.

Mike Jones:
That’s incredible. The difference.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. Three times the price where you can find out that that … Okay, that does make sense that you can transport it back and forth and still save money.

Rick Dircks:
But we’re an investor in GPEx so we’re kind of in the loop I guess of what companies are coming out here and what they’re looking for. And it’s interesting because we’re having a little more trouble competing with the salt lake cities and the Austins because we were cheaper but our land has-

Matt Dircks:
It’s changing.

Rick Dircks:
It’s definitely changing. So we still do really well verses California and even the Seattle’s of the world, but we’re having more trouble competing because we’re gaining at a faster rate against some of these markets. Denver. Denver’s a very expensive market too.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. It is.

Rick Dircks:
We’re catching Denver.

Mike Jones:
And they have some geographic limitations I think impact some of that pricing. Just like a coastal city would.

Rick Dircks:
Absolutely.

Mike Jones:
There’s a limit to like how much like a San Francisco or even an LA now with how much they’ve built up. They can’t really expand from a outside perspective. They can only go up.

Matt Dircks:
We were talking to some folks about land in Tucson. And we’re even seeing that is … That’s kind of the next hub that companies are seeing. It was cheaper and all of a sudden it-

Mike Jones:
It’s not.

Matt Dircks:
Really? It was definitely a … Raise your eyebrows when you see-

Rick Dircks:
Well, Casa Grande is … It’s growing. I just saw there’s two developments of 2,000 homes each going up south of Maricopa a number of miles. That’s happening down there too. So I think in the distribution world and warehousing world location is important but to be 50 miles or 70 miles away is not a big deal because you don’t need as many employees to run a warehouse and it’s the cost of land that seems to be the big driver. So you see the Lucids and some of those people going into smaller markets. It’s cheaper land.

Mike Jones:
Just to shift gears a little bit, Rick, I’d love to hear your perspective on just how the company started and some of those early days of getting things going. I’m sure it was fun and I’m sure it was hard work.

Rick Dircks:
Well, we actually were just talking about this a couple weeks ago, my brother and me, is I was 30, he was 31 at the time and we thought we knew an awful lot. And what we realized … And you kind of walk in … We did buy an existing company so it had employees. So we had to kind of walk in the door almost acting like we knew what we were doing and almost be a little bit of show off. And it’s kind of funny when you reflect back on that, how little you really knew. And they talk about new businesses going by the seat of their pants and all that. Well, we didn’t think that was us at the time, but now we look back and we go that was absolutely us at the time and you don’t know what you don’t know. But I think the good news was our mentality. Learn, learn, learn. And there’s just a whole lot more of it in the early years because the company we bought had a lot of issues. Which, normally when you buy a company, they’re for sale more times than not because there’s some kind of stress.

Rick Dircks:
I think to this point really, a good story on that is first weekend we moved, it was May of 1990 and we hit 118 degrees so it was the hot of the hot right then and we had moved from California. The first weekend we bought the company. So we bought these trucks. I mean, they were used, crappy trucks, I can tell you now. But we took one of our new trucks to go move a freezer for my brother’s father-in-law, thinking oh, we’re going to take one of our new trucks. 118 degrees. The heater on … There was no air conditioning in any of the trucks we bought. The heater was stuck in the on.

Mike Jones:
Oh, no.

Rick Dircks:
So our first experience, one of our trucks was hotter than a blast furnace. And we looked at each other and said, “What did we get into?” It’s been all good since then I guess you could say because-

Mike Jones:
It’s all up from there.

Rick Dircks:
It’s all up from there. So we had a lot of learning experiences and you grow every day from it.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. That’s incredible. What were some of the challenges of just coming into a business that already existed? I’m sure even from a culture standpoint there’s things that you’re like, “Man, we got to shift this,” but you’ve got people who are maybe still thinking in the old way.

Rick Dircks:
I think what we’ve learned … Because we’ve bought about a half dozen companies since then. We’ve learned more times than not the people that are there don’t last. And not necessarily their fault because they’re not our people. So you find that over time you turn them over only because we do certain things and certain way and want to do things a certain way and you have people that don’t. So I think when you walk in the door you think, “These are our people. I love them all. I want to make it work. They have experience. They understand. But they don’t know our culture.” So it’s been interesting every time we do it. You kind of find that those people that were there just, generally speaking, it’s not a longterm marriage.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. They came in from a different culture and a different set of values.

Rick Dircks:
Yeah. Exactly. So it’s really hard to manage other people’s people. There are certainly some exceptions to that but we’ve found that I think. But again, we didn’t realize it at first and probably took to about the fifth acquisition. Because even now, we buy somebody, we want to make everybody there ours. And it’s hard. Because they think a different way and all that kind of stuff.

Mike Jones:
Maybe if you’re open to it, share a little bit about what is the culture at Dircks? What makes that unique and special and how you guys think about doing work?

Matt Dircks:
I think it’s cliché, but we talk about the Dircks way. And there’s no definition of it but it’s doing it the right way and doing the right thing. A lot of still our primary, our core business is moving families, moving their goods, moving treasures, things that they’ve had their whole lives. And making sure that employees understand, whether they’ve been in the moving business forever or they haven’t, they’re new to it, understanding how emotional that is for having this company that you hired, that hopefully you did your research and you know a little bit about them. But that’s another story for another time. But when you use a company like that, we come into your house, we pack everything up, we load it on a truck and we drive it away. Everything you own, everything you know is in that truck driving away. And we want them all to go smoothly but moving somebody’s goods across the country some things happen. Accidents happen. It’s instilling in our employees from all levels. From our crews that are on the street dealing with the family to our customer service people to even our accounting people that have to collect money. Knowing that we want to do the right thing.

Matt Dircks:
Things happen and something may go wrong but we need to have that emotional aspect to have that empathy to know what somebody’s going through when they’re moving. Is it the three or four most stressful things in life?

Mike Jones:
Yes.

Rick Dircks:
Three. Death, divorce, moving is what you generally hear.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. And to have that understanding. Our coordinators might be working with 20, 25 moves at the same time. But having that empathy and just having that respect for customers and to know what they’re going through. That’s huge. And all levels of business. All lines. Not just the folks dealing with customers but all of our employees. We really expect that out of them. And that we’re going to do the right thing. And sometimes it costs us money but we’re going to do the right thing to make sure that customers feel that we treated them properly. And as we all know, the best referral is such a big base of our business.

Rick Dircks:
Your best salespeople are your best customers.

Matt Dircks:
Exactly. 100%.

Mike Jones:
Absolutely. Referrals are big.

Matt Dircks:
And anybody that’s moved professionally and moved well and it’s gone well, they’re never doing it themselves again. I can tell you that for sure.

Rick Dircks:
It’s not cheap to do it but it’s worth it when you at least have the money to do it. I think the other word that I’ll use to add to that … Because yeah, we do talk about Dircks way a lot, but the other thing is the family environment. And again, it’s really cliché but we have an operation in Tucson, we just hired a new general manager and I was on the phone this morning and, “How’s it going so far?” He’s in day four. He says, “It feels like family.”

Mike Jones:
That’s awesome.

Rick Dircks:
Which that’s exactly what you want to hear when someone’s starting is the atmosphere feels family. And a lot of family businesses have a lot of family in it. Well, we have three. We got two of them here and my brother.

Mike Jones:
Yeah.

Rick Dircks:
So we don’t have a lot of cousins, nephews, everything else in the business. But to say that is one of the real compliments that I get. When I hear that I feel good about that.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. That’s great. That’s awesome. Talk to me a little bit about just how you guys have seen partnerships play out as a means of growing the brand both from a reach standpoint but also how do those partnerships … As you partner with another brand, how has that played out for you guys?

Matt Dircks:
This is the community guy over here who’s on just about every board there is.

Mike Jones:
That’s what I’ve heard.

Rick Dircks:
I guess if you’re talking … There’s so many different kind of partnerships out there. But I do believe very strongly that you want to hang your shingle from good brands to be with. Obviously I don’t want to be with a brand that’s not good. But most are I think in most organizations. So whether it’s a company that we might do some kind of sponsorship with or if it’s someone involved in our organization or if it’s a customer, I think they’re all partners in one way or another. And as they go well, you go well. But I just don’t think you can know enough people in this world. One thing about our business is we’re not a consumer brand that is a known consumer brand because you don’t need us very often. People don’t move very often. So we can’t advertise like the McDonald’s of the world obviously because there’s no need for … In fact, a funny thing is-

Mike Jones:
It’s not like you’re calling up Dircks every day.

Rick Dircks:
No, no, no. In fact, we’re an agent nationally for Mayflower Van Lines and United Van Lines. So when it comes to the residential we have a tendency to use those brands because that’s who people know. On the commercial side, the logistics side, then Dircks is a local brand so better. But I’ll never forget about 20 years ago we were sponsoring the Coyotes. And a lot of companies they want us to advertise with them. And we say it just doesn’t work well for us. We don’t get a return from consumer advertising. Well, the Coyotes had a pro … That’s back when you go to a game and you buy a program for a buck, whatever. Well, we had a full page ad in the program. And our ad was a pretty good offer. It said if you get a free moving estimate for Dircks … You don’t have to move with us. You get a free moving estimate from Dircks, you’ll get a free autographed puck from your favorite Coyote player. And that’s the days of Keith Tkachuk and Jeremy Roenick. They had some real name guys there.

Mike Jones:
That’s a good deal.

Rick Dircks:
It was a good deal. We got zero calls. Zero. So we learned people don’t go to a hockey game and go, “Hmm, I think I’m going to go get a moving estimate.” So we learned a really good lesson that you have to be careful who you market to and partner with and all that.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. That’s a good inverse lesson of those partnerships and making sure there’s a real win-win on both sides and it really does make sense.

Matt Dircks:
I think it’s the evolution of the partnerships too where we may do a lot of work with ASU. And doing moves on campus and the trucks on campus. We laugh about, we’ll walk into a building or I used to walk into classes and I would see a Dircks box in the corner where we have a box that doesn’t need tape. That’s foldable, collapsible, but it just pop up. When you need a box, you get a box. And you don’t think of marketing in that way or that’s a marketing spend. But how many of our boxes are on campus sitting around campus? And when somebody sees on the side of the box that oh, they’re here on campus doing a move here but they can move my home too. They can do a local move. They can move me to the other side of town, they can move me to another university, or they can move my lab. Just that partnership, that evolution. Treating customers well. They go on to another company. I’m dealing with a customer right now that brought a opportunity to us that used to work with another client of ours and now they’ve gone on to a new business and they said, “Hey, you know what? I think Dircks can help us out that because they did so well over here.”

Matt Dircks:
Makes my life easier, especially on the corporate side. Our goal is to make their life easier. Anybody who’s moved their office and knows what a headache that is and if we can make it a little easier it really goes a long way and they trust us for even more things.

Rick Dircks:
We’ve estimated that we’ve provided ASU with 300,000 boxes.

Mike Jones:
That’s incredible.

Rick Dircks:
We probably provide them about 10,000 boxes a year so there’s a lot of them out there. I think something, to add this final point kind of on that same thing, is we have … Or I’ve got a saying that sits by my desk is help others get what they want and you’ll get what you want. And I really believe that. Using ASU as an example again, it might someone purchasing. I help him with his problem that has nothing to do with moving and that will come back tenfold as a general rule. If you help other people with their solutions, whether it’s what you do or not, at some point in time it’s going to be remembered and they’re going to go, “Aha, now I need a service. Can you do it?” I mean, a great example I talked about earlier, doing the kitting. That was exactly what happened I think with ASU. We have done so many things with them and worked with them and we’ve done a lot of warehousing with them so we’ve been side by side at the table talking about solutions.

Mike Jones:
It’s a real partnership.

Rick Dircks:
Yeah. And they said, “Hmm. I wonder if you guys can do it.” And we said we can do it and it helped them and helped us so it was a true win-win. And it needs to be a win-win or else it’s a short term issue.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. It’s just not going to work.

Rick Dircks:
Yeah.

Mike Jones:
What has made just being in Arizona … I mean, we kind of already touched on this a few times, but what has made being in Arizona, having the company here … What advantages have you seen or what has just made that just a really good fit?

Rick Dircks:
You start and I’ve got something after.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. I think it’s the evolution of the valley. It’s just changed so much. And growing up here and seeing that. I guess I’ll call myself a native. I moved here when I was five or six years old so I think that almost makes you an Arizona native these days.

Mike Jones:
I get the card I think.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. Exactly. Oh, you lasted 25 summers. Here’s your card.

Mike Jones:
And you’re still here.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. The growth and the partnerships that we’ve had. And I think maybe eight, 10 years ago you didn’t see the startups. That was a California thing or maybe even on the east coast. And seeing those startups popping up here and being able to provide service to them and, as we’ve said a few times, grow with them is really one of our business models that’s worked is kind of attach yourself to these companies that are growing. But just seeing the growth, the change in the valley. We created an east valley division as well just to … We’ve always been central Phoenix on the west side where there’s some more warehouses but we’ve grown and tried to have more offerings to the east valley because we see some customers coming to this side and being able to be on both sides. But I think it’s, like I said, the partnerships and the growth of the valley and the evolution of commerce is just … It’s grown tenfold and still growing.

Rick Dircks:
Well, growth’s huge. And to me, the coolest thing about being an Arizona company for what I do, which kind of being the community guy and the sales leader, is it’s a big small town. I mean, I’ve been in it for 30 years so I’ve seen obviously a lot of growth and I’ve kind of grown with it. But anybody that’s wants to get involved with this community can get involved with this community. I’ve done quite a bit of mentoring of younger people. It’s like, how do you know as many people as you know? And the answer is it’s taken time but it’s not hard to do if you want to do it. It’s really amazing that if you want to get ingrained, there isn’t the good ole boy network that a lot of markets have. And really, truly it’s inviting. The business climate is anybody that wants to get involved can get involved. And I think that’s such a cool thing. I would not want to do business anywhere but Arizona just for that reason alone. Because I know I have a base of people I can always turn to.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. And I’ve definitely seen that and I obviously haven’t been in business for as long as you have Rick, but I’ve definitely seen that same … If you want to be involved, you want to just even meet people, and there’s certain people you’re like, “Oh, I’d love to get in contact with them,” there’s probably somebody in your network that knows them and people are very open. I’ve found that probably a little bit more than some other markets. It’s just probably a reflection of also the size. We’re not like a New York City or an LA where it’s just impossible to know everybody.

Rick Dircks:
But we’re five million people so we are a pretty big market.

Mike Jones:
We’re getting there. We’re now, I think, fifth largest in the country and fastest growing of the top 10 cities.

Matt Dircks:
It’s kind of one of those nobody really knows that.

Mike Jones:
I know. It’s crazy.

Matt Dircks:
It’s a secret but it’s on national news so it’s kind of weird how that works out. Maybe none of us want to believe it.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. And I’ve always wondered too if there’s an aspect of just so many people move here from other places. So there’s kind of an element where everyone’s trying to kind of build their network, their community, their relationships. So there’s a little bit more openness and maybe it’s not quite as-

Rick Dircks:
Good point.

Mike Jones:
Go to a New York City and it’s like, well, there’s family and a lot of people who’ve been there generation after generation after generation.

Rick Dircks:
It’s a great point. It’s very established. But the downside of that is if you’re a sports fan it’s hard to have a lot of the hometown sports fans because you don’t have a lot of people from the hometown.

Mike Jones:
Yes. We got to keep working on that. Got to win some championships. That’s how you build some hometown-

Rick Dircks:
Then the bandwagonners become yours.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. I was excited to see the Suns get there.

Matt Dircks:
And you had some outsiders I guess you could say jump on the bandwagon and actually get behind. That’s-

Rick Dircks:
Yeah. Because the Suns were truly the original team and they do have a hardcore following from the longtime residents so it was fun to see that kind of blossom again. Bringing new people on.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. I don’t know if I should admit this. They’re probably the only local team that I really follow. Some of that’s more just constraints of time and what I can invest my energy in. I love the Suns.

Matt Dircks:
But I will say if you grew up in Arizona it was pretty tough to be a Cardinals fan.

Mike Jones:
Oh yeah. It really was.

Rick Dircks:
So it’s changed a lot but …

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. Yeah. You root for another football team. I understand it.

Mike Jones:
Diamondbacks were good there for a little while and they’ve had their moments. But the Suns are … They’ve got my heart.

Rick Dircks:
I think it’s just interesting too, like ASU, I’ve always been a big ASU football fan and how they play at a stadium that holds 70,000 people that was filled in the ’70s when the market was, whatever, 1.5 million. Now we have five million and we’ve downsized the capacity. I think that’s a reflection of a lot of people. It’s the churn of people coming and going impacts that hugely.

Mike Jones:
It really does.

Rick Dircks:
But from a business standpoint you can still get into the core of the business community. That’s what’s really the great thing about it.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. I’d absolutely agree. I’ve got one more kind of serious question. What’s next? What’s next for Dircks? What are you kind of looking ahead at or what’s coming up that you’re getting excited about?

Rick Dircks:
Talk to the next generation guy. That’s yours.

Matt Dircks:
The first step I mentioned earlier. We opened a new division. What we call business services. So we have a new operation in Tempe. And that allows us to service the ASU’s and the Camelback Corridor and some of those opportunities and longtime customers that are in that area. So we, mid 2020, added 60,000 square feet here in Tempe. And that’s the business services division. Just does commercial moving, deliveries. No household goods whatsoever and no residential moves come out of that facility. And then our core household goods facility is, like we said earlier, in central Phoenix.

Matt Dircks:
And then next on the horizon, hopefully any day now, we will open our new logistics facility. So we currently have a logistics facility, the west side, just under 100,000 square feet. We are upgrading that and opening a 250,000 square foot facility, like I said, any day now. Speaking of delays.

Rick Dircks:
When you get the supply chain handled.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah, yeah.

Mike Jones:
As we’ve talked about.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. So that facility will open up, hopefully in the next month or so.

Mike Jones:
That’s really exciting.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. Two and a half times our footprint there.

Mike Jones:
That’s crazy.

Matt Dircks:
Allow us to do food grade business, which is big and a growing market here in Phoenix. And then just grow from there is really the goal. We see that logistics, that distribution, finding that niche, being able to do not only warehouse products, big projects, but then deliver the goods out. Having the manpower, having the trucks, having the staff and the capacity to ascend.

Rick Dircks:
And a big segment that’s a growing … It’s called final mile, which is getting it to the customer. And one of the neat niches that we have in our world as opposed to the general trucking and freight companies is we have our drivers and helpers are used to interacting with people. So when you deliver freight to grocery stores or whatever you’re going to loading dock to loading dock. You’re not interacting. Our people are used to going in people’s homes. Matt talked about the emotions and all that. Gives us a nice in to do a lot of services that other people can’t. And you’re finding that now with home delivery. Not only do you deliver things at home, appliances, things, you have to set them up and do things that. So it takes a more specialized person to do it. I think the growth of that continues to be tremendous.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. And there’s a level of customer service in that interaction. I mean, I can even think about the two guys that dropped off our fridge and put it in and they’re interacting with us, they’re interacting with my kids a little bit as they’re moving in and out of the house. That takes a certain level of training and skill.

Matt Dircks:
It does.

Mike Jones:
It’s very different than just dropping something off.

Matt Dircks:
Right. Yeah. And to have that, that’s good to hear and that’s some great people behind because a lot of times doing deliveries, doing those final mile deliveries, appliance deliveries, they can be doing 10 to 15 deliveries in a day. And that’s-

Mike Jones:
They’re working really hard.

Matt Dircks:
Yeah. That’s some tough work. Yeah, we really see that. That’s kind of the growth pattern. That logistics, that warehousing. That side of the business. And evolve from there really.

Mike Jones:
That’s really cool.

Rick Dircks:
That’s why it’s fun to get the next generation because I think we consider ourselves to be pretty innovative, at least for our industry, and now that we’ve been doing it for 30 years you lose a lot of that. You get older. I hate to admit it, but you get older. So it’s fun to have … We’ve got some younger people involved that have ideas that my brother and me might shake our head and go, “What are you talking about?”, and it turns out to be great ideas. So that’s fun to watch that next level-

Mike Jones:
That’s fantastic.

Rick Dircks:
Do their thing. So it’s fun. Yeah.

Mike Jones:
That’s great. All right. We’re going to shift gears for our last question. It’s going to be a little funky. It’s name 10 things. I won’t make you each individually name 10 things. We’ll just collectively get to 10.

Matt Dircks:
So come up with 10 between us?

Mike Jones:
So 10 between you.

Matt Dircks:
Okay.

Mike Jones:
The goal is rapid fire, off the cuff, whatever comes to mind. There are no wrong answers so don’t overthink it. Although, that’s always hard. But name 10 places Dircks will never move someone or something.

Matt Dircks:
North Dakota.

Mike Jones:
All right. There we go. Kicking things off.

Matt Dircks:
The hardest part of moving somebody to a place is finding somebody else that wants to move out of there. So you can get a truck to North Dakota, but getting it back not empty-

Mike Jones:
It’s not coming back.

Matt Dircks:
It’s pretty tough.

Rick Dircks:
We’ll never move someone into a mine.

Mike Jones:
Okay. There we go. Number two. I like that.

Matt Dircks:
I would say if it’s over three stories we have to have an elevator. So no four, five, six story walkups. That’s a good way to get your employees mad at you.

Rick Dircks:
We will never move anyone to the arctic circle.

Mike Jones:
There we go.

Rick Dircks:
I guess we can say Antarctica. I don’t think we will.

Mike Jones:
At least for the short term. Maybe people will be living out there at some point.

Matt Dircks:
We move folks to Hawaii but we don’t drive. Hard to get a truck there.

Rick Dircks:
We will not move anyone to Mars, at least in my lifetime.

Matt Dircks:
That’s true.

Mike Jones:
I like that one.

Matt Dircks:
Although, probably could have a monopoly on Mars moving. We could take all those.

Rick Dircks:
That’s the next generation.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. That’s awesome.

Rick Dircks:
Okay. I think that’s only about six.

Mike Jones:
Think we’re about six. You got four more in you? They don’t have to be serious.

Rick Dircks:
I would say we will not move anybody to Iran.

Mike Jones:
Yeah. I was waiting for one of those type of countries to pop up.

Rick Dircks:
Afghanistan will be a while I would think until they get situation settled a little bit more. Before our days … We’re now in Tucson. And we’re a partner with University of Arizona so we’re equal opportunity university. But 15 years ago we might have said we may not move somebody into the U of A.

Matt Dircks:
Yes.

Mike Jones:
We’ll count that on the list.

Matt Dircks:
A lot of Arizona State grads in the family.

Mike Jones:
Yeah.

Rick Dircks:
It’s kind of funny when we hire people and they go, “Oh man.” One of our new vice presidents is a U of A grad and he thought he’d have a little problem and he’s learned that we only have fun with it so it’s all good.

Mike Jones:
Got one more?

Rick Dircks:
One more. I mean, I guess we could take a location and say we will probably never move anybody to … I would say, you know what, we’ll never move someone to Brazil. That’s a country people do move to but we stay away from it. There’s a lot of corruption of those people going in so I’ll take an easy one.

Mike Jones:
Well, certainly not in a truck because I learned the other day that there’s no direct route between Central and South America by land. There’s no freeway that crosses all of Panama.

Rick Dircks:
Yep. You got to do a boat through that canal.

Matt Dircks:
Just jump the canal? [crosstalk 00:46:48].

Mike Jones:
It’s not the canal. It was fascinating. There’s a number of reasons but there is … The jungle and the mountains in the southern part of Panama that connect to Colombia are incredibly infested with disease. Like mosquitoes with disease.

Rick Dircks:
Really?

Mike Jones:
Yeah. They’ve tried to build roads in there and lots of people die or get really sick in the process. It’s just really hard terrain. There’s a lot of rain so roads don’t last very long.

Rick Dircks:
Interesting.

Mike Jones:
And then there’s some political things-

Matt Dircks:
Unrest.

Mike Jones:
Well, even just … For instance, the cattle industry. Mad cow disease exists in cows in South America but not in Central and North America. And one of the reasons for that is that there is no connection point for the cows from South America to interact with cows from North America.

Rick Dircks:
Interesting.

Mike Jones:
So that industry has kind of said, “Don’t worry about building anything down there. You don’t need to build a road.”

Matt Dircks:
Sounds like a logistics opportunity though.

Mike Jones:
There’s a logistics opportunity. I’ll have to pray for whoever ends up taking that on because it sounds nasty.

Rick Dircks:
That’s interesting. That’s funny.

Mike Jones:
There’s my weird random insight into what I spend my time learning about. Thank you both so much for coming on. This was a great conversation. I think we almost hit an hour, which is awesome. Is there anything in particular you guys want to plug or want to give a shout out to our audience if they want to check out? Obviously go to the website. I think that’s a big one. So if people-

Matt Dircks:
Yep. It is dircks.com. D-I-R-C-K-S.com.

Mike Jones:
Is there anything else that you’ve got coming up or anything you’re excited about?

Rick Dircks:
No. But I think just keep in mind the unusual. I mean, the pandemic has created a whole bunch of stuff and with challenge is great opportunity so always think outside the box. And we like to do that. So if there’s certain supply chain in general needs. And I guess what I’ll say is we’re very involved with the supply chain with association so even things that don’t involve what we do, we do interact with a lot of supply chain leaders in the area that know a lot of stuff. So if anyone just wants to talk supply chain we’d love to do it. We’re really engaged at ASU with their supply chain department. It’s a fascinating area to be in right now because it’s so upside down and they’re making up the rules as they go now. So I think that’s kind of fun and there are opportunities.

Mike Jones:
That’s awesome.

Matt Dircks:
Honestly, I’m just going to take a second and say thank you to our employees. We’ve had a tough year, had a tough year and a half. A lot of good, a lot of bad, but been really busy as well and we’ve all gone through labor shortages and staff shortages and our folks that have been with us are working really hard, doing a great job. And just want to let them know that we appreciate them moving forward.

Rick Dircks:
Great point. And low turnover, which is saying something I think in this market.

Mike Jones:
That is saying something. That’s definitely saying something. I think it’s a testament to the business you guys have built and the culture that you’re building around that business and how you want to serve people well.

Rick Dircks:
Thank you.

Mike Jones:
Thank you both for coming on. For our audience, thanks for hanging around for another episode of AZ Brandcast where we delve into the makings of remarkable brands here in the great state of Arizona. Thank you all for joining us. If you want to find out more about our podcast, you can go to azbrandcast.com. You can get signed up for our newsletter there. You can find all of our back episodes. We’ve got lots of great conversations with business leaders from around the state. And as well, you can find us on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pandora. All the great places that you like to listen to podcasts. We are probably there. And if we’re not, send me a little email and we’ll make sure we get it up on that directory. So hopefully everyone has enjoyed this episode as much as I have. This has been a fantastic time digging into logistics and you guys and Dircks and company history. It’s been really awesome. And to all of our listeners, don’t forget, you are remarkable.

Speaker 4:
The AZ Brandcast is a project of Resound and is recorded in Tempe, Arizona with hosts Mike Jones and Chris Stadler. It’s produced and edited by Sam Peggle. Music is produced and provided by Pabrid, an Arizona based music group. You can find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and at azbrandcast.com. If you’d like more episodes, subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or wherever you prefer to get your podcasts. To contact the show, find out more about AZ Brandcast, or to join our newsletter list to make sure you never miss another episode, check out our website at azbrandcast.com. Copyright Resound Creative Media, LLC, 2020.