By Jamison Cocklin
Last November, Dan Earley was reading a newspaper when he stumbled across something that would set the tone of his working life for months to come.
The article highlighted an aging population across the country and some of the economic opportunities cropping up to help meet the unique demands of the nation’s elderly and retiring individuals.
“I thought, ‘Boy this is an interesting concept for a business,’” said Dan, who lives in Canfield with his wife, Stephanie, and their three young sons. “We started researching it around here, but we only saw moving companies and no actual moving coordinators in the Youngstown area.”
Two months later, Dan and Stephanie launched Earley & Sons Relocation LLC. Now, it appears the couple has the “market cornered here,” as their friends like to say, and as the winter months give up their grip, the Earleys are hoping their entrepreneurship and vast array of services pay off in the long run.
As moving coordinators, the couple helps seniors sort, pack and move their belongings to smaller apartments or assisted-living facilities. Their business model, though, encompasses a bevy of other convenient services aimed at multiple demographics.
“We didn’t want to focus on just seniors,” Stephanie said recently at their home on Shields Road. “But a family with three or four kids that just doesn’t have the time to organize their garage — they can hire us to do that.”
It’s nearly impossible to calculate what a specific move might cost, and rates vary across the industry. Earley & Sons works for an hourly rate. Before starting the work, the couple meets with the customer for a consultation and provides an estimate based on the services requested.
For example, the company recently helped move some heavy furniture, about a day’s worth of work, quoted for between $300 to $500 for everything.
In all, Earley & Sons is aimed at the elderly, businesses that might need help moving to a new office, and families. They coordinate a move from start to finish, calling in the moving company, helping to facilitate the sale of a home, auctioning off unwanted items or the belongings of the deceased, and providing handyman services, too.
Their idea, it turns out, is not that far off the mark.
The U.S. population aged 65 and over will jump nearly 80 percent as the baby boomer generation continues to retire over the next decade or so. By 2030, the elderly will account for one-fifth of the country’s total population.
Fueled by growth in this population segment, the elderly and disabled-services industry, according to the market research firm IBIS World, has grown at a rate of 4.7 percent annually in the last five years. All told, the industry employs more than 900,000 people nationwide and accounts for $38 billion in annual revenue.
In Ohio, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, people aged 65 and over account for 14.3 percent of the population, which is above the national average. In Youngstown, the demographic is even higher, accounting for nearly 16 percent of the city’s population.
One service the Earleys believe will be in high demand, and one they’ve already had some success with, is called “aging-in-place.”
Seniors looking to downsize and move to a smaller apartment typically have not done so for between 30 and 50 years, making the clutter involved in a move cumbersome. For those who don’t opt to relocate, their homes are often cluttered with unused or unwanted items.
The Earleys will perform a safety walk-through and determine what to get rid of and what to keep. They can improve a home to accommodate the needs of the elderly by installing higher toilets or grab bars, for example.
They also understand how difficult it can be for children to go through the belongings of dead parents.
“We went through it with my mom. I only have one brother and he lives in Cincinnati,” Dan said. “When she passed away suddenly, that bedroom door stayed closed for a year. Eventually I had to go in there.
“We want to be an asset to the community,” Dan added. “The vision is our family helping other families. That’s what we like to say.” So far, the couple has been busy spreading the word. Networking, social media, radio and print advertisements and referrals have landed them most of their business, which they say has been steady but somewhat slow, given the energy they’ve devoted to starting their business.
Anyone interested in their services can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 330-501-7004.
The company offers snow removal and lawn-care services as well.