“If we were meant to stay in one place, we would have roots instead of feet.”
Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. That’s why, besides having good friends, a therapist, and plenty of cardboard boxes, it’s important to have a moving crew you can trust.
Man With a Van moving company, based in New Paltz, started small, very small, in fact, borrowing a friend’s beat up old van to move someone from one Manhattan walk-up to another on New Year’s Eve 1992. Today it has four employees, plus owner David Miller.
He recounts the company’s beginnings. “I was working for Two Brother’s Landscaping Company,” says Miller, who, despite his boyish smile, is now a husband and father and homeowner on top of being a business owner. “I was in my young 20s and they were always getting calls to move furniture because there was no moving company in New Paltz and they had trucks.” One of the owners asked Miller if he would mind taking on one of these moving jobs himself, as the company was in the thick of landscaping season. “I liked it. It was a good workout. I met some nice people. Got to move around and honestly, I was a lousy landscaper.”
One thing led to another and Miller ended up putting a “Man with a Van” ad in the local papers and before long his phone began to ring. “I had to borrow my friend’s van and pay him some money but I started getting calls. A lot of them were to deliver antiques, or move people from the city to this area and lucky for me I had a steady gig delivering the newspapers for Ulster Publishing every week.” (That’s us.)
Asked which items concern people most when moving, Miller pauses. “It depends on the person or situation. If they have valuable art, then they might be concerned about that. If they have family heirlooms that mean a lot to them then that’s what they’ll talk to us the most about.” The television is a common theme. “People are always concerned about their TV. Whether it was the old-fashioned ones years ago or the digital, high-definition screens. People want their TVs intact. We make sure of that.”
In addition to the eponymous van and Miller himself, the company now includes two trucks and several employees. But still, the majority of the moving jobs they handle are modest; “one two-bedroom apartment to another one. Moving people’s belongings into or out of storage units. We move a lot of people to and from New York City. We also do a lot of deliveries for internet companies.”
Mohonk Mountain House and Woodland Pond are two of his biggest clients. He also has a few famous ones, like artist Julian Schnabel. “He has his frames hand crafted in this area and then we deliver them to him in New York City or Long Island,” he says. While Miller has never met the artist, he has had the pleasure of meeting several famous actors, including Willem Dafoe and Frances McDormand. “They were both so nice,” he says and recalls McDormand being so kind as to “invite me and my workers in to have some tea.”
The thing Miller enjoys most about his work, “is just meeting new people every day. Most people are really nice and interesting.” One of his more memorable moving anecdotes included, “having to move a witch’s shrine. It had all of these steps up to the altar and was very intricate and I was extremely careful not to let anything get out of place on that!”
The company also transports large quantities of food from food banks throughout the area to various locations.
“We also do a lot of moving for people who are renovating their homes or portions of their homes,” says Miller. “Sometimes they’ll be redoing their floors and we’ll need to move all of their furniture to the garage or basement or to a storage unit and then move it back once the work has been completed.”
Miller finds that people can often be “very stressed when moving and so I tell them that psychologists say that moving is the third most stressful thing in life after death and divorce. One lady who discovered that her husband was a major hoarder said that she thought she would ‘have all three’ before the move was over!”
After being in the business for more than two decades, Miller said that he feels he’s in a “really good place. I’m still strong and we work hard at making sure that we move efficiently. There’s a certain flow that goes with being a mover and a real special understanding that comes over time. I think we’re just the right size. We’re not too big, we’re not too small, and almost every day I get to meet someone new or drive