Mike Swan started helping move University of Guelph students as a student himself on May 1, 1972, just him, two helpers and a pickup truck.
He put up flyers on U of G bulletin boards. With advertising he got clients and got paid.
Fifty years later he is still helping people move, as Swan Moving and Storage is celebrating 50 years in the moving business.
Located at 5 Petrolia St., the company employs 20 people and offers services all of southern Ontario.
Swan has moved three generations of the same family and they remember him from when he first moved them many years ago, he said.
“When I started as a university student the people I moved were sort of my age. Now they’re grandparents,” he said. “We moved the grandparents, we moved their children, now their grandchildren.”
Over 20 years ago Swan offered his daughter a job at the moving company and she now runs it. She argues she has worked there since the age of eight.
“I remember getting paid as a kid five cents an envelope to stuff flyers. So if I wanted money to go buy candy I needed to bring home all the flyers and envelopes,” said Nicole Conversano.
“Young brains and young minds to an old formula and made it better,” said Swan when his daughter started implementing changes to help the business.
Conversano said it was a bit of a boys club when she started working at Swan Moving.
“I made a lot of changes when I got here just to maybe feminize it and make it a little more accessible and less like all the guys running everything,” said Conversano.
“Many of our customers are female, head of the house, and it’s easier for ladies to deal with ladies, especially for an important job like this,” said Swan.
He has some advice to entrepreneurs who want to run a successful business.
“Pick something you’re good at and stick with it. Be careful what you’re good at,” said Swan. “Fifty years later you’re still doing it.
“I’m grateful to own this business. I’m thankful to my clients and I’m thankful to the good people we employ,” said Swan. “I’m very appreciative of where I am in life. That I’ve had this successful business. That I’ve helped people. I feel good about it.”
As Swan puts it, “the days are long but the years are short.”
Swan and his daughter don’t know if the moving company will be around for another 50 years, but said they hope so.