Ezra Zimmerman | Crain's Connecticut

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Ezra Zimmerman

Background:  

EZ Moving is more than just a moving company as it will also do the heavy lifting for customers’ odd jobs as well. The Ridgefield, Conn.-based company offers junk hauling, tree removal, snow plowing and home maintenance services in the lower Fairfield County section of Connecticut.

The Mistake:

Back in October 2011, there was a major snowstorm that was then followed by Hurricane Irene. There was so much tree work going on because of the weather, and I saw this as a business opportunity.

But a lot of relatives would bring up the fact that it was still a sour economy – this wasn’t too far removed from when the stock market crashed in 2008 – and they would show me all of the different business advertisements in the newspapers from companies already offering those type of services.

They felt it was a mistake to begin that type of business at that particular time.

I needed to offer unrivaled customer satisfaction.

The Lesson:

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I believed in what I was doing and I decided to put one foot in front of the other to make it happen.

When I started, right after the snowstorm and the hurricane, I went door to door at over 300 Ridgefield homes. I got enough work from that to be able to buy a pick-up truck. Initially, I focused on tree removal and landscaping. But then I began to get calls about moving and junk removal, so I was able to expand into those fields.

But as I began to expand my work, I had to deal with a lot of high-end business competition in the area, especially with junk removal and moving companies. Referrals could only bring in so much business. I first relied on Craigslist advertisements, handing out cards at local businesses and putting fliers in local grocery stores to get new customers. Eventually, I upped my game and got a website, which helped me show up for people looking for services on Google. I also began to run advertisements in local newspapers.

The advertising helped to get my name out further. But in order to stand out from the competition, ultimately, I knew that I needed to offer unrivaled customer satisfaction. By that, I mean that the company had to meet or exceed customer expectations every single time we showed up to do a job.

Getting the right people to work with me has not been difficult. I used to play minor league football and I started the business with several of my former teammates. The team skills have carried over from the game, and I have the right people working with me – so I don’t have to worry about advertising to find workers.

Since beginning the company four-and-a-half years ago, the company has been growing every day and I had to spin off the junk removal business as a separate operation. My goal is to compete with the national franchises in lower Fairfield County – which, in my opinion, are charging too much for these services.

As for the family warnings that it was the wrong time and wrong place to start a business – that was their mistake! After the first two years of running the business, all of that talk ended and my family has been proud of what I’ve accomplished.

Do you have a good story you’d like to share, or know someone we should feature? Email cberman@crain.com.

And be sure to sign up for your local newsletter from Crain's Connecticut.