Opting to be a stay-at-home dad during the COVID-19 pandemic gave Longfellow resident Matthias Frasch the time to refine a business idea.
He has launched EasyMovingBoxRental, a company that offers reusable moving boxes with the goal of saving time, money and hassle for those moving. Plus, they’re eco-friendly.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Frasch: I grew up in Germany, in a small farming community in the Swabian Mountains and lived there until I was 25 years old. In 1997, I joined Up With People, a U.S. based organization, where I met my wife Lori. I officially immigrated in to the U.S. in 2001. I became a U.S. citizen in 2015. Lori and I have lived in the Longfellow neighborhood since 2002 and over the years were joined by our three children, Maxwell (13), Ellison (11) and Stella (7) along with our rescue dog Ollie, a two-year old Terrier mix. We are an active family with our kids being part of the South East Soccer Club, local dance studio Ballare Teatro, and the Twin Cities German Immersion School’s cross country team. Most often, people will find me running along the river as I’m training for the 2022 Mexico Ultra X 250, or playing with my kiddos and the pooch over at Dowling Community School fields. We have been involved in our neighborhood church for many years, and continue to volunteer in school and sports activities throughout the year.
As a family, we are conscious about the importance of protecting our environment and do our part, often in small ways, to make responsible choices. We support local farmers, refrain from using harsh chemicals for cleaning and lawn care, and just simply cherish the natural resources right here in the neighborhood and around town.
What did you learn from being a stay-at-home dad during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Frasch: Just like anybody else, the pandemic caught us by surprise. Trying to juggle two full-time jobs along with the irregular and unpredictable school days for the children, we eventually decided for me to be a stay-at-home dad. I left my career as a director of digital marketing to focus on the well-being of the kids and family while Lori continued her professional work from home. This has proven to be the best solution for our family, and has helped us to keep a sense of normalcy during the crazy early COVID times. One of the most profound things I’ve learned is my appreciation of our teachers in our schools. Because of the shortage of substitute teaching staff, in late 2021, I decided to get the Minnesota substitute teacher license which enabled me to support our school if there was an urgent need for teaching staff.
Being a stay-at-home dad also has given me the opportunity to explore other career options and especially looking into possibly starting my own business. I eventually decided to make EasyMovingBoxRental a reality.
What sparked this business idea?
Frasch: With EasyMovingBoxRental, I do exactly that. Renting sustainable boxes for people looking to move, remodel, or have any other short or long-term storage needs is another step in the right direction of [protecting our environment. It eliminates the need to spend a lot of time and money collecting and/or purchasing cardboard boxes. The service includes the boxes being delivered and picked up in the Twin Cities and its surrounding cities. After each use, every box is cleaned and disinfected with plant-based, environmentally responsible cleaning solvents.
How does your company make moving easier?
Frasch: The core mission of this business is to simplify moving. Moving is generally a stressful event (even in the best of all situations), especially considering all decisions that need to be made along the way that lead up to the move in the first place. The same applies to home remodel and whatever else requires in the need to pack up your things for storage.
The need for boxes often ends up being missed until it becomes an urgent need. At that point, people go dumpster diving, engage friends and families, or just simply buy loads of cardboard boxes. All of this requires time and money. Even the seemingly quick and simple solution of buying new cardboard boxes becomes a chore as they’re awkward to schlepp around and still require the need to be assembled.
EasyMovingBoxRental solves that issue. In less than two minutes, people can order our boxes and focus on more important things. Our boxes nest perfectly which means they require little space while they are empty. Once in use, they are easy to handle and stack perfectly on top of one another. This saves space in a moving truck and makes the move significantly faster which is critical, especially if people hire professional movers who charge by the hour.
So far, all our customers have been raving about the ease and simplicity of using our boxes. Once done with the boxes, there is no need to figure out ways to dispose of them. We pick them up and bring them back to a new-like condition.
How does this benefit the planet?
Frasch: Clearly, our service addresses consumer convenience, but the underlying effect is that we significantly reduce cardboard boxes being dumped in a landfill. Our boxes will be reused many times before they will be recycled again.
In addition, the entire business has been built with local assets. Our boxes were manufactured right here in the U.S., the truck chassis has been assembled in the U.S. while the container on the chassis has been manufactured right here in Bloomington, Minn. The wrap on the truck has also been designed and installed here in Minnesota. As a class II truck (lightweight), we use the most economic vehicle possible for our service. There is little to no air left in the container as our boxes fill out the space perfectly.
Everything about this business has been developed with the focus of the highest possible efficiency while utilizing local resources, reducing any unnecessary waste and lean processes. I think this business is a proof of concept to solve an issue with a more convenient solution at a reduced environmental impact.
What has it been like starting a new business during a pandemic?
Frasch: Starting a business is always challenging and especially during uncertain times like the pandemic. However, because I stepped away from my career to be a stay-at-home dad, I took some time to develop a business plan. Once, I committed to the plan, I officially I started out as a tiny business, using the garage as storage and my minivan for deliveries/pickups. Because of my previous work experiences, I was able to develop this business pretty much on my own. The sound business plan soon caught the attention of some investors who saw the potential and shared the same vision.
Got any tips for others who are starting new businesses?
Frasch: I think the best way of starting a small business is to look for the smallest possible way of operating at a minimal investment. This could mean to focus on minimal inventory, the most simple and lean processes, or the most common use cases.
My business might sound pretty simple on paper, but there are countless variants within each order. The experience I gained during my first few months of operation as a tiny business helped me avoid many costly errors as I scaled up with investment funds. I think the initial reward should never be the paycheck, but the learning gained from operating small. The experience, in turn, will then become the driver for fine-tuning the business and its processes and essentially set it up for scale.
More at www.EasyMovingBoxRental.com.
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