Crocker Moving & Storage Co.: a legacy of service four generations in the making
By: Dayna Worchel
Photos by: Dark Lab Photography
Andy Crocker can say something about his job that most people envy. He raised his hand, showing five fingers as he talked about the legacy of the company that has been in his family for four generations in Corpus Christi, Crocker Moving & Storage Co.
“I love coming to work each day! I’ve had less than five bad days working here. We treat our customers right, and they treat us right. As with any business, there are customers you just can’t please. But those are very rare,” said the president of the company founded by his great-grandfather, Marcellius Crocker, in 1910 as Crocker Transfer & Storage Co. Inc. “You can’t let them spoil your day,” Crocker said of the occasional difficult customer.
Crocker understands why the moving process can ignite passions from those who seek their services. “Because we move people’s personal belongings, what we are moving defines them,” he said. “If we don’t respect it, we are not respecting them. I think because of our closeness with our teams (of employees), our members understand that. If they don’t, it’s time to get another job.”
An important part of the heritage Crocker wants people to know is that Crocker Moving & Storage is the oldest fourth-generation moving company in Texas that has been in the same family.
“It’s very rare to get to the fourth generation,” he said. “Most family businesses die out during the third generation. The first generation works really hard to get the business open. The second generation witnesses that and learns that work ethic, but they don’t want their children to work as hard as they did, and so they give their kids a break. Sometimes the third generation grows up with a silver spoon in their mouth, although in my parents’ case, it was pewter.”
Marcellus L. Crocker left the company to his two oldest sons and his oldest daughter, May Crocker, Andy’s great-aunt. She ran the business back in the 1930s and ‘40s, and passed away when Andy was 4. She left her mark as a strong business leader on both the family business and on the Southwest Movers Association board, a five-state association for moving companies founded in Fort Worth in 1917, “which promotes a safe, reliable and ethical moving industry” Andy said. Crocker Transfer & Storage was a charter member.
The company was recently named a Pinnacle Mover, which means it meets certain standards of excellence in the moving industry. Some of these standards include having specific uniforms for the crew and vehicles, having a high Better Business Bureau rating, special training certifications, formal orientation for employees and a low number of formal complaints, among other quality credentials.
“When I became an active member of that movers’ association in 1981, many people asked me about Miss May. She really left a legacy on the Southwest Movers Association board. She was the first female officer of that organization,” said Andy, who is a past board chairman and current board director of the association.
After Aunt May retired, Andy’s uncle, William “Bill” Crocker, ran the business as president from the late 1940s until he sold it to Andy’s father, Lee Crocker, at the end of 1980. Andy has been with the company for 36 years, and he started working there in January 1981 after attending the University of Texas in Austin and then working for a movie theater, a nightclub and Coors of Austin. He graduated from W.B. Ray High School.
Andy and his brother, Matt Crocker, who serves as vice president of the company, continue that legacy of service begun three generations ago, both to their customers and to their community. “My brother, Matt, and I bought the business from Lee Crocker in 2000,” Andy said.
Andy, 60, is one of five Crocker boys born to Lee and Patt C. Crocker. He is the current and seventh president of the company, and his brother, Matt, 63, is vice president. Chris is the oldest of the five and lives in Austin, along with another brother, Court. Adam, the youngest, lives in Wisconsin.
One key to the company’s longevity “is bringing in people who have worked for other companies and have fresh business perspectives,” Andy said. He includes his and Matt’s opportunity to work for others before settling into the family business when he says this.
“Both Bill and Lee came to work for the company directly from school,” Andy said of his father and his uncle, who served in the U.S. Army during WWII. “They never worked for anyone else, whereas Matt and I worked for other people and brought those skills to the workplace. Instead of recycling tradition, we brought in fresh skills and new ideas.” Andy and Matt stay current on industry trends by being active in the Southwest Movers Association and other successful nonprofit boards and associations, allowing them to see what other companies do well.
The brothers all worked in the business growing up, coming in on Saturdays as kids and later helping in the warehouse during summers as teenagers. “We would start working in the warehouse, and later, doing the lighter duties with the trucks,” he said. “That’s when we learned whether we really like this business or not. This work is not for everyone.”
He enjoyed working for the family business and got along very well with the crew. “When I was 18 and 19 years old, I treated the drivers and supervisors as my boss. I was not the owner’s son. I was their employee. When I came back as their manager, they showed me respect – because I had shown them the respect they deserved.”
His brother, Matt, joined him at the business in 1983, and 17 years later, Andy and Matt purchased the company from their dad. Andy is most proud of his family’s legacy of community service as community partners, which he continues today.
“We watched our parents help form the Harbor Playhouse, and my mom was active in Junior League, where she was an officer for many years,” he said. “They worked getting the art museum open and were early contributors to the Lexington and to the aquarium. They recognized the need for Corpus Christi to grow.”
Andy has served and currently serves on boards of numerous successful nonprofit associations, including the Mission of Mercy, the Fanny Bluntzer Nason Renewal Center, the Corpus Christi Education Foundation, Goodwill Industries of South Texas and the American Red Cross, to name a few. Each nonprofit organization has its own special place in his heart.
“Mission of Mercy appeals to me because we’ve had employees who’ve made too much money for government help, but not enough for medical care coverage – yet they have a need for it,” he said. “And in some cases, they have served our country in the armed services.”
Another, the Spirit Center, will provide a youth facility for the spiritual, social and educational development of youth in the Coastal Bend, Andy said. This is currently only available in the Hill Country and beyond. Motivation to support the Corpus Christi Education Foundation comes from four generations of the Crocker family, including his own children receiving a Corpus Christi ISD education.
Andy says his crew has a lot of pride in the job they do, and they appreciate being part of a company that is such a strong community partner. They realize the company is not just the building and trucks. “Our company is our employees,” Andy said. “They are the ones who work side-by-side with the customers. They make the difference whether a move is successful or not. My part and Matt’s part is very minor in that. Our office team members support our decisions, and we support theirs. It all filters down to the team in the field.”
Crocker Moving & Storage maintains around 10 fulltime employees, depending on the economy, including the administrative staff. Most have long tenures with the business. The company does household moving and storage, records storage and management and also works with decorators to receive, inspect and store new products for their decorating businesses.
And the family legacy of the business may be continuing into a fifth generation. One of Andy’s three children, daughter Omega Crocker, 24, has worked with him for the past six months and enjoys being there. He has an older son, Drew, who is a U.S. Navy flyer. He also has another son, Alpha, Omega’s twin.
“There’s a possibility Omega could be the next generation running Crocker Moving & Storage, or it may be one of the other siblings or the 10 nieces and nephews,” Andy said. “But they will have to earn it, just like my brother and I did.”
For more information, visit www.crockermoving.com.