(UPDATE) HireAHelper Offers to Train Conor McGregor How to Properly Use a Dolly

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Did you hear the one about Conor McGregor and the dolly? Yeah, a lot of people did.

Look, we’re no experts on how to use a dolly—well, ok, actually we are. And this is not how you use a dolly:

But we saw something in that clip that most others didn’t: potential. So with that in mind, we’ve come up with an offer to help rehabilitate Conor:

Hey Conor,

We couldn’t help but notice your dolly usage is a little rough around the edges. But we see potential in you. With a little training, you might fit right in inside our professional mover marketplace.

Since you may be on the lookout for a new job, we’d like to extend an opportunity for you to go through our Movers Academy to learn how to properly use a dolly, just like one of our thousands of highly trained movers.

www.movers.academy

We’ve helped hundreds of potential movers just like you go from amateur dolly-users to reliable pros. Maybe you’ll be the next one.

What do you say? We’ll even throw in free moving insurance, in case something breaks.

Sincerely,

HireAHelper

We hope to see you at the Movers Academy, Conor!

UPDATE (4/10/18):  

Fox affiliate covered this story in the following segment, showing the world is definitely ready for #ConorTheMover:


Image by: Andrius Petrucenia

How Far Away Are Self Driving Vehicles? (And Where Do Moving Trucks Fit In?)

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Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology is no longer just “the future”. Today, bringing self-driving vehicles from car shows to the streets is a full-on race for competing companies in the US and abroad.

Earlier this year, we reported about Otto, the self-driving vehicle maker that moved from the warehouse to the highway with their breakthrough autonomous truck. It delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins, Colorado down to Colorado Springs with nobody driving it.

Some would argue that the cargo should have been something more significant or important, but (a) for some, there is nothing more important than beer, while (b) for others, in the event something should go wrong, losing a truckload of beer is a lot less significant than losing a truckload of someone’s belongings. Or million-dollar medical machines. Or even really good craft beer.

Regardless of the cargo, now that it’s been proven doable, the race is on! But before we get to how this impacts trucks, there is a significant and important history to detail about the AV industry.

And yes, there’s a legislative sideshow going on that will decide who gets to be on the starting line.

Safety First

Of the estimated 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US last year (yes, that’s four zeros!), roughly 94 percent of the crashes involved human error.

Simply put, we the people are doing a horrendous job behind the wheel. Replacing us error-prone humans with machines that don’t make mistakes, the reasoning goes, will put a huge dent in the number of traffic accidents that occur in the US each year. And the sooner, the better.

7 Embarrassing Lessons

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

Lessons I, Kevin The Mover, learned during my earliest days on the job through the mistakes of others (and my own).

US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in introducing the NHTSA’s revised guidelines for autonomous vehicle development, said self-driving cars could also help the blind and disabled – perhaps acknowledging that the technology would not only increase the level of safety for such drivers but would also give them a higher level of independence.

That’s something that is hard if not impossible to measure.

Interestingly, Chao doesn’t see the value in limiting development and testing to established automobile manufacturers—in other words, he thinks the companies with a known capacity for designing for commercial gain shouldn’t do it all. From the Scribd self-driving guideline book:

States should not place unnecessary burdens on competition and innovation by limiting ADS testing or deployment to motor vehicle manufacturers only…No data suggests that experience in vehicle manufacturing is an indicator of the ability to safely test or deploy vehicle technology [emphasis mine]. All entities that meet Federal and State law prerequisites for testing or deployment should have the ability to operate in the State.

That last bit – “entities that meet Federal and State law prerequisites” – may hope to keep this race from turning into a free-for-all. But again, these are just guidelines. Strong suggestions, maybe. But not laws by any definition. That, we can expect, is already beginning.

The Feds Take the Wheel

self-driving trucks

Last September, the U.S. House of Representatives made a bold move by unanimously voting to put the development of self-driving cars in the hands of federal regulators, not the states.

On the surface, this may seem like just another instance of federal bureaucracy getting in the way, but by cutting off the states’ authority to prohibit autonomous vehicles, the feds are actually hoping to speed up the process of making autonomous drive technology part of the everyday.

In other words, instead of 50 roadblocks, there’s only one.

As Reuters reports, “The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year.”

Wait a minute! Without meeting existing safety standards?!

The States Have a Say

That does sound rather concerning. But as US News & World Report explains that point, the proposal put forth by the House would

give the federal government the authority to exempt automakers from safety standards that don’t apply to autonomous technology [emphasis mine]. If a company can prove it can make a safe vehicle with no steering wheel, for example, the federal government could approve that. But generally speaking, manufacturers seeking these particular safety exemptions must demonstrate that their self-driving cars are at least as safe as existing vehicles.

A car is a car is a car, as far as the government is concerned. As it concerns self-driving cars, however, Reuters adds, “The House bill would require automakers to add a driver alert to check rear seating in an effort to prevent children from being left behind.” (This may or not be bolstered with a device to stop anyone who would forget their child is in the car from ever driving again.)

Furthermore, this bill does not put states entirely in the back seat when it comes to motor vehicle regulation. Registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections would all still be set by the individual states.

Yep, only performance standards would have to pass through federal review.

States will still have some authority to regulate the eventual use of autonomous vehicles, like requiring a human to be present on any self-driving vehicle. But states are “encouraged not to pass laws that would throw barriers in front of testing and use.”

Disagreement Among Administrations

self-driving trucks

As US News tells us,

Under the Obama administration automakers were asked to follow a 15-point safety assessment before putting test vehicles on the road. The new guidelines reduce that to a 12-point voluntary assessment, asking automakers to consider things like cybersecurity, crash protection, how the vehicle interacts with occupants and the backup plans if the vehicle encounters a problem. They no longer ask automakers to think about ethics or privacy issues or share information beyond crash data, as the previous guidelines did.

That the present administration is not interested in the ethics of the industry is an issue that we will steer clear of.

We will instead add the sentiments of Mitch Bainwol, head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, who says the guidelines, which are policy, not law, provide a “streamlined, flexible system to accommodate the development and deployment of new technologies.” 

This stands in contrast to critics who suggest these guidelines don’t go far enough to ensure the safety of vehicles being put out on the road. David Friedman, director of car and product policy analysts for Consumer Union, warns that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “needs to be empowered to protect consumers against new hazards that may emerge, and to ensure automated systems work as they’re supposed to without placing consumers at risk.”

Clearly, the autonomous vehicle industry is at the crossroads of safety and economics.

Business: Anything But Usual

The race to get AV technology to the market is more than just selling cars alone. As FTI Communications puts it,

The automotive revenue pool could reach $1.5 trillion by 2030…this in part because AVs will likely have an impact that extends far beyond the automotive industry, into sectors such as insurance, tech, logistics, cybersecurity, delivery services, public sector infrastructure and tourism, to name a few. 

In other words, this has the potential to change economics as we know it. But since the NHTSA has established nothing more than non-binding, non-legal guidelines for the industry, there remains a significant degree of confusion about how to proceed at both state and private levels.

Add to this the current administration’s apparent appetite for growth in traditional manufacturing jobs, including manually driven cars, and we have a recipe for sluggish progress in what could be the greatest advancement in transportation since the invention of the combustion engine, maybe even the wheel.

As far as our industry is concerned, the question remains…

Autonomous Trucks: Now or Later?

self-driving trucksAs the subject of self-driving trucks is not addressed in the NHTSA’s guidelines or the aforementioned House bill, the development, testing and implementation of AV technology for transport trucks of all types have by default been left up to individual states (hence, Colorado’s beer delivery experiment).

Speaking in general terms, Michigan Senator Gary Peters states that “the House bill will facilitate the safe development and adoption of self-driving cars, reduce existing regulatory barriers and establish new regulatory framework.”

He does, however, refer to conversations he has had involving the prospects of self-driving trucks raise a very different set of issues from self-driving cars.

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As we are told, “The Michigan senator…did find some opposition to the idea of pushing freight legislation off to a later date to instead focus more intently on autonomous passenger vehicles.”

One of those opposed was American Trucking Association CEO Chris Spear. Besides issues like cybersecurity, infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication, Spear makes the valid point that since autonomous passenger cars will eventually be sharing the road with freight trucks anyway, these and other issues should be answered for commercial and passenger vehicles at the same time.

“Our industry cannot be subject to a patchwork of conflicting state rules,” US News quotes Spear as he advocates for the federal government to pursue some sort of overarching freight standards that wouldn’t vary state to state.

Compliance with multiple state regimes would be very disruptive to the economy, to these companies, and I think it would be a jobs issue over time if we’re not able to move freight in a productive way, in a safe way and, obviously, in a profitable way.

But Spear does concede that while autonomous cars will likely be hitting the road very soon, autonomous tractor trailer technology is still “decades away” and “not in the foreseeable future.”

To this, Spear said he’s not worried about truckers losing their jobs to technology anytime soon. “We have a 50,000-driver shortage as it stands,” he reminds us. Navistar President and CEO agrees, joking that freight companies “already have driverless trucks, but that’s because they have trouble recruiting and retaining drivers.”

The Space Race of Our Industry, In a Nutshell

There’s a wealth of automotive technology coming out, a lot of it from right here in the United States. But a failure to put the proverbial pedal to the metal could result in missed opportunities for the US to stake its claim at the forefront of the industry.

It could also delay the implementation of autonomous technologies that ultimately could make American roadways safer.

“Whether it’s data-sharing, testing protocols, engagement of all of the right stakeholders – these are all issues that we need to begin to discuss,” says Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council and former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

If the trucking sector is left on the side of the road while these discussions progress, it will be even longer before our industry begins to see the safety, as well as the economic benefits, of autonomous vehicle technology.

And because of all that, it may be a long time before you or any other company waves goodbye to your cargo being driven away by a moving truck.


Illustrations by Rob Wadleigh

Mover Gets Hired on the Spot, Gets Right to Work as a Thief

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Gail Valente didn’t know she was sending a convicted felon out on a job. But when two of her movers failed to show up for work, the owner of Rex Moving in St. Petersburg, Florida was in a tight spot.

“I can do that,” said Charles Worden, who was doing construction work on her house at the time. “I’ve done it many times.”

Gail agreed and Charles got right to work, pilfering Beth Benson and, it seems, several other Rex Moving customers.

The interesting thing is that Ms. Valente apparently found out about the thefts before her customers knew what was going on. Her first move? Alerting the authorities. Her next move? Calling her customers to let them know they’d been robbed. That’s both a bold and humbling thing to have to do.

Luckily, the items were recovered.

Ms. Valente tells WFTS in Tampa Bay that she runs background checks on all her employees. That may be true. But in a pinch, she made the decision to send someone into a customer’s home without knowing much about him. Maybe this was the first time she ever had. It will likely be her last. 

Something to keep in mind when you are vetting a crew that you hope garners you sterling reviews.

Moving Truck Checked for Explosives, Raises Questions

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Some fancy equipment and a bomb-sniffing dog detected the presence of “potentially explosive material” in or on a Big Foot Moving & Storage truck when a crew arrived to deliver the belongings of a service member who was recently assigned to Hanscom. A security perimeter was established, roads were closed, buildings were evacuated, and the FBI and ATF were alerted.

“Given the times we live in, we operate in an abundance of caution,” said Boston State Police Major Fran Leahy after a moving truck was stopped at the gates of Hanscom Air Force Base just northwest of Boston.

Reportedly no explosives were found and the truck was allowed to enter the base to deliver their load. However, a number of pallets were removed for more testing. Major Leahy states that Big Foot, an approved contractor for the federal government, is cooperating fully and “no one is suspected of a crime.”

Big Foot’s statement on the matter can be found here.

The obvious and as yet unanswered question is: What was the “potentially explosive material”?

Lab testing may provide the answer, which may not be quite as intriguing as the plot of a terror and espionage thriller. It could be the residue of a flammable liquid that leaked out of a weed whacker or a barbecue grill. It could be paint thinner. It could be lawn fertilizer. It could be something that definitely should not go on a moving truck – or in a warehouse – but could (and may prove to be) something found in most garages across the country.

“This was the right response for the situation,” we are told.

Right, for the times we live in.

Real Local Crime Blotters: Movers Edition

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Lexington, Massachusetts

Saturday, Feb. 25

3:55 p.m.: A caller from Burlington Street reported a suspicious black van parked in their driveway. When Lexington Police arrived, it was found that the van belonged to the moving company which helped the caller move into their home.

Meanwhile, the movers were on the phone with police to report a suspicious individual lurking in the house they were moving furniture into…

 

lobster

Brockton, Massachusetts

Sunday, February 26th

Officer Amanda O’Shea took a report in the lobby of the Scituate police station from a Scituate fisherman who had just come in from pulling his traps and had a box of lobsters intended for sale at the town pier. The fisherman said he had put the box of lobsters in the rear refrigeration unit of a Mullaney’s truck that was at the town pier.

As he pulled away to moor his boat he saw a moving truck pull up beside the Mullaney’s truck. Footage from Area surveillance cameras showed two occupants of the moving truck getting out and approaching the Mullaney’s truck. One of the men was then seen going to the rear of the moving truck before both occupants got back into their truck and drove away. Goodbye lobsters.

Upshot: Both men ended up turning themselves in, were released on $500 bail and are due back in court in April.

Rumor has it they don’t even like lobster.

fireworks

Des Moines, Washington

One Sunny Sunday, 2016

An employee at a Des Moines storage and moving facility alerted authorities after discovering more than two tons of illegal fireworks in a shipping container earlier this week.

Federal, state and local and local agencies searched the scene and uncovered 131 boxes of consumer fireworks – including artillery shells, cakes fountains and aerials.

These type of fireworks are illegal and require a fireworks import license, the State Fire Marshal’s Office said.

The containers were being moved from Olympia to Honolulu.

131 boxes. More than two tons. That’s more than 30 pounds of stuff that can explode per box. Talk about heavy artillery.

HireAHelper Spearheads ‘We Won’t Move You, Chargers’ Movement

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The NFL’s recent announcement that they will relocate the San Diego Chargers franchise to Los Angeles was not the siren song you might have imagined for Southern Californian moving companies.

(more…)

“Let Meowt!”: Cat Gets Shipped in a Box for a Week and Survives

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Someone let the cat out of the…box.

We all know about those items that shouldn’t be put on a truck. “Unallowables” we call them. But this particular item that got accidentally loaded up and taken away belongs in an entirely different category – one that should have its own name. We’re thinking “unmeowables”. If you guys have a better suggestion let us know.

The owners of the unlucky cat regarding this episode:

“We couldn’t find him.  Every time we went out, we called his name to see if he would come in,” said Joyce. The family lives next to a wooded area and braced for the worse, believing he may have been killed by a wild animal…

…I got a phone call from the moving company, and he goes, ‘I have a strange question for you. Are you missing a cat?’ I said, ‘Yes we are.’ He said, ‘Well, we found it,” said Joyce. “I almost started crying. I was so ecstatic when they asked me.”

Accidents happen, but some accidents are more preventable than others. Movers? Let’s keep those eyes and ears open! Seriously.

Burglaries Inside Storage Units Are Becoming Common, but Can Be Avoided

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[Synopsis: In developing business relationships, quality is just as important as quantity.]

In our very first HireAHelper newsletter (Anyone out there remember?) we raised the idea of making friends with the folks at your local self-storage facility to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship. At any time of the year (and particularly during the busy season when so many people are coming and going) having a solid working situation with your industry colleagues can pay huge dividends.

But it also pays to know who you are shaking hands with. In any industry and profession, you are going to run across some bad eggs. The moving industry is certainly no exception. And neither is the self-storage sector.

Recent events in Independence, MO and Santa Cruz, CA remind us of this.

There in Independence, multiple break-ins of storage units left several customers feeling shaken and unsure of the industry.

“I always thought that if you put your things in something like that you are trusting those people to have security and watch over your stuff,” Hall said. “They just don’t.”

The situation repeated itself in Santa Cruz, CA. Dozens of customers had their valuables rummaged through and stolen, and multiple people were found living inside the storage units. That storage unit was eventually inspected by the city Planning Department and declared a public nuisance, but not before plenty of people got burned.

disclockTips such as not storing more than $5,000 in goods, purchasing insurance and using disc locks are offered when people get victimized. But the onus should ultimately fall on us within the industry for referring quality and safe services, as opposed to consistently pushing for maximum quantity. The latter is how we destroy our brand as an industry.

Business is all about relationships. And success in business is all about successful relationships. Successful relationships, in turn, require integrity and clarity from both sides of that handshake. If you hear there have been issues with a storage area, if you are dubious of your local storage units after seeing them, or if you are simply cramming as many customers into one place of business as possible, consider finding more alternatives.

As we continue down the roads of our own success, picking up people along the way, it’s important to remember to choose our friends – and our allies and business associates – wisely.

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For rookies or veterans alike, our "I'm a Mover" section is filled with extensive industry news, crucial protips and in-depth guides written by industry professionals. Sharing our decade of moving knowledge is just one way we help keep our professional movers at the top of their game.
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