Entrepreneurial Success Story: Mary Ellen Sheets-Mother Of Two Men And A Truck

Published in Inspiration

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If you live in North America, chances are you've seen one of the Two men and a Truck's 1,400 trucks rolling around in your town. What you probably didn't know is that Two Men and a Truck started as two boys and a mom.

When Mary Ellen Sheets' two sons, Brig and Jon, asked if they could borrow their mom's 12-foot truck during the summer, she never could have imagined where that would lead. Sheets' boys, then ages 18 and 15, used her truck to do some moving jobs of small houses and apartments to earn extra money. This continued for a few summers until the boys went off to college. They thought their moving days were over, but mom had other plans. The boys must have left a good impression on their early clients because Mary Ellen continued to receive inquiries about whether or not the company was up and running. Brig recalls that his mom kept getting calls for jobs and asked if she could hire guys to keep the business going. That is exactly what she did. Mary Ellen upgraded her son's truck and during winter and summer vacations her boys would come home and continue with their moving jobs.

At the beginning of Two Men and A Truck, Sheets was a single mom working as a systems analyst. Eventually, the demand for her "men" grew and she was able to quit her job, cashed in her retirement and focused on her company full-time. Over the next 30 years, Mary Ellen Sheets helped grow Two Men and A Truck from one location out of her home to 330 locations and $400 million in revenue. According to her daughter, Melanie, her mom was able to grow the company with very little of her own money put on the line, "$350 is the only personal money she ever invested in the business. This is a franchised business that she basically started on her personal credit card." Not only did she invest very little personal money, but she was also able to grow the company the old-fashioned way, by reputation and word of mouth.

In the 1980's, there was no such thing as "World Wide Web" and the internet sounded like something you might see in a Star Trek episode. Businesses relied on customer feedback and word of mouth to get their company's name out there. Two Men and A Truck had a slight advantage since their trucks served as a giant moving billboard. Their iconic logo is simple but gets to the point and is easily recognizable.

With her new-found success, Mary Ellen managed to keep it all in the family. She was able to convince her daughter to become her first franchisee, and each of her two sons followed suit. The family ran the tight-knit company together, with both sons holding executive positions until recently. Mary Ellen is still very much a hands-on owner, serving on the Board of Directors for the business that she began.

Throughout history, mothers have moved mountains and fought monsters, both literal and figurative, in order to give their children every advantage possible. Mary Ellen Sheets is no different. She saw the potential in her children and she sacrificed her own security in order to help them reach for the stars. Starting your own business is intimidating even for the most seasoned entrepreneur, but with great risk comes great reward. For Mary Ellen Sheets her reward continues to grow, knowing that her children have stability and security that only a mother can give.

A penny for your thoughts!

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