- Sergio Markovic, 28, is the head of long-distance operations for Piece of Cake Moving & Storage.
- He began his career as a mover, and now he and his team of 15 coordinate moves to Miami and LA.
- Here’s what the moving business is like, as told to writer Jenny Powers.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Sergio Markovic, the 28-year-old head of long-distance operations for Peace of Cake Moving & Storage in New York City, about his job. It has been edited for length and clarity.
When I was 21 and a student at ASA College in New York City, a classmate of mine was working as a mover and told me the company he worked for was hiring, so I called the manager. He asked me to come in the very next day and offered me a job as a mover on the spot, which I accepted.
Seven years later, I’m now the long-distance operations manager at Piece of Cake Moving & Storage, where I manage a team of 15.
When it comes to being a professional mover, there’s a lot more to the job than heavy lifting.
In many ways, a mover is like a therapist
Often considered one of the top five stressors in a person’s life after the death of a loved one and divorce, moving can cause a great deal of emotional stress.
It’s our job to remain calm, respectful, and sensitive to our client’s needs during what can be a difficult process for many. That’s why a good attitude, strong customer service skills, and the ability to work under pressure are just as essential as good health and fitness when it comes to this type of work. Everything else — how you properly pack items, carry them correctly, and handle narrow walk-ups — we can train you to do.
There’s an age-old misconception that movers are bad boys, but it’s not true. Many of us are young people, often students, who are just trying to earn extra money.
Moving is a well-paid job
But you can’t do it for too many years because it’s hard on the body. If you want to build a career in this industry, at some point, you need to transition into a different type of position. That’s what I did.
When I started at the company in 2019, I was a mover. From there, I was promoted to sales and as of four months ago, I began managing all long-distance moves.
When the pandemic hit, it had a huge impact on the moving industry overall since we were considered essential businesses. It seemed like the whole city was moving and we were right there in the trenches helping people pack up and move them to wherever it was they wanted to go.
In 2021, we completed 35,000 moves
It was an annual record. We moved people from 40 states as well as Washington, DC. We oversaw anywhere from 75 to 200 moves per day. As a mover, it’s not uncommon to see 360 homes a year, especially when you’re doing full-packing jobs.
We can move people anywhere in the US and even some places abroad as long as the place of origination or the destination is within the larger NYC tri-state area or in the greater South Florida area.
To give you an idea of just how busy we were last year, our business was up 133% from 2020 when we completed 15,000 moves and up nearly 500% from 2019 when we did a total of 6,000 moves. In the first quarter of this year, we’ve already completed 10,500 moves and are projected to well surpass our 2021 record. Out of our 35,000 moves last year, 4,000 were out-of-state or long-distance moves.
New Jersey proved to be the most popular destination, particularly Hudson County, followed by Florida, which is why we opened a Miami office last year to help facilitate the busy New York to Florida corridor.
There are a lot of moving parts that come into play
Many people often assume once their belongings are loaded onto the truck, the movers simply hop in the truck, drive to the destination, and meet you at your new home, but when it comes to out-of-state or cross-country moves, there’s a lot more to it, beginning with the way we pack.
For long-distance moves such as those from New York to Florida, everything is packed in special protective boxes, and once all the items are inventoried and loaded into one of our 100 trucks, they’re taken to our local warehouse, where they’re unloaded.
Here our long-distance team reviews the inventory list to make sure it matches up, ensures everything is well protected, and reloads everything into wooden crates assigned to each client.
Those crates are then loaded into one of our huge trailers that depart from New York and head to our Miami warehouse two to three times a week.
Once our trailer arrives at our Miami warehouse, our local team there unloads the crates, placing the belongings into small local trucks, which are then dispatched to our individual clients. The entire process can take up to nine business days from door to door.
If you’re moving locally, tip 15%
Tip 20% of the total for long-distance moves and split it 50/50 between the mover who picks up your belongings and those who drop them off at your final destination.
The busiest times to move are the beginning and end of the month and during the spring and summer seasons, and the cost to move is based on the date, the distance, and the size of the move itself.
The average price of a move from New York City to Miami is around $3,400 while moving from New York City to Los Angeles typically runs closer to $3,950 based on an average two-bedroom apartment with the standard amount of furniture and moving during peak moving season in the spring or summer.
Moving really provides you with a window into other people’s lives
As movers, we see it all — we see what’s inside the nightstand, below the sink, beneath the carpets, and under the bed, and there’s always something under the bed! If you’ve lost something, chances are that’s where it winds up. I once came across a marriage license that the customer had been looking for when I disassembled their bed. They were so happy they hugged me.
We also deal with the heaviest of items, like pianos, to the most challenging, like fish tanks.
During my career, I’ve had to move everything from a 30-foot airplane wing one city block — when the truck was only 26-feet long — to a painting by Frida Kahlo.
One time a woman was in such a rush to pick up the keys to her new place that she accidentally left her little dog behind in her apartment. She called in a panic and told me the dog was inside her bedroom, so I scooped him up and moved him, too.
Sometimes we have no choice but to say no
As much as we try to accommodate everyone’s requests, sometimes they’re impossible.
We moved a college girl from the Lower East Side of Manhattan back to her parent’s farm upstate. After we completed the job, the girl’s mother asked if we wouldn’t mind helping them move a couple of things a few miles away.
We were happy to lend a hand until she brought out five live sheep.
Despite the fact that the mother told us not to worry and insisted that she’d strap all the sheep safely into our truck, we had to draw the line with farm animals. After all, everyone has their limits!
Want to share your career story? Email Lauryn Haas at [email protected]