The Ground Floor: Cedar Rapids-area entrepreneur dedicated to moving residents, removing stress

New business using word-of-mouth to succeed

Vanessa Miller
Published: December 11 2012 | 6:00 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:12 am in
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Downsizing and moving to a smaller home can be stressful, exhausting, emotional and time consuming for the elderly.

That is, unless Cedar Rapids area native Amie Havlik has anything to do with it.

Havlik, of Ely, has a knack for planning, organizing, sorting and economizing. She started offering her services to the elderly who might be intimidated by such a task.

Through her home-based business, Simplified Transitions, Havlik can be hired at an hourly rate to help with anything from simple maintenance around the house to a full-blown downsizing move complete with planning, sorting, discarding, packing, cleaning and unpacking.

Havlik worked with a health insurance company for more than 11 years before deciding to make a change on her 40th birthday a year ago. She became a “senior move manager” and joined the National Association of Senior Move Managers, which boasts its expertise in “senior move management, transition and relocation issues affecting older adults."

Havlik launched her business in January and said she’s since moved 24 clients and completed smaller tasks for many more. She has six current clients, and she’s garnered most of her business through meetings with independent and assisted-living communities.

“My business is all through referral,” she said. “A lot of these people are getting my name from a community they’re thinking about moving into.”

An entire move through Havlik’s Simplified Transitions can cost between $1,200 to $5,000, depending on the size of the house and the amount of belongings she needs to sort through and move. It typically takes her between 30 and 90 days to complete a job.

She starts with a floor plan, measuring the space of the new place, gauging the size of the furniture and sketching a floor plan that shows how everything will fit.

Any furniture that doesn’t make the cut will be sold, donated or trashed, Havlik said. And she does all that, posting things on CraigsList.com, driving donations to charities and dragging garbage to the dump.

Then she sorts through the smaller stuff and downsizes.

“I’m the one crawling into closets and getting on the floor,” Havlik said.

She works in two- to three-hour chunks each day, trying not to overwhelm her clients. Every time she leaves, she takes bags of things with her and drives them straight to donation or recycling centers.

“Seniors have an enormous amount of ice cream, whipped cream and butter tubs,” she said.

Then she starts packing. She uses a separate moving company to do the transporting. When movers arrive at her client’s new home, they are greeted with a floor plan taped to the door showing them where everything goes.

Once it’s all in, Havlik unpacks.

“We set up the entire household,” she said. “We even have the pictures hung on the wall. It looks like they’ve lived there for years.”

Typically, Havlik said, she can move a person in 15 to 20 hours spread over a series of days.

“I kind of live for those final move days when they walk in and see the apartment set up,” she said. “They usually look totally relieved.”

At her previous job in the insurance field, Havlik said, she had difficult discussions with customers daily and was yelled at weekly.

“Here, I am thanked at least once a day,” she said. “And since I opened the doors, business has been booming.”

Owner: Amie Havlik

Company: Simplified Transitions

Address: Based out of her home in Ely

Phone: (319) 899-0148

Website: www.simplifiedtransitions.com

Hours: She answers her phone any time and moves based on her clients’ schedules.
 

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