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The Franchise: Lansing, Michigan-based Two Men and a Truck is North America’s largest franchised moving company, with more than 380 locations and 3,000 trucks across the U.S., Canada, Ireland and the U.K. Tim Lightner launched the company’s first Wisconsin franchise in 1993 in Madison. Now, the group covers nearly all of southern Wisconsin and recently expanded into Milwaukee, with the promotion of longtime general manager Lisa Paley to partner.
2000: Lisa Paley began working for Two Men and a Truck Madison as a part-time bookkeeper while she earned her undergraduate degree in accounting. Paley planned to become a CPA, but was being pulled in another direction. She stayed with the franchise group and was promoted to finance manager in 2004.
“The more I looked at continuing my education, the more I realized there was really a disconnect in the CPA world between numbers and people,” said Paley. “The path that I was on gave me the ability to impact people and therefore the numbers of the business.”
2011: Two Men and a Truck Madison acquired an existing franchise in Racine as its second territory. That location has since doubled in size. Paley took on a new role as general manager of both offices.
February 2020: The group expanded again, taking over the Waukesha County market.
“The day we closed that deal, I received a call from the owner of the Milwaukee franchise, who was considering a sale as well and wanted to know if we’d be interested,” Lightner said. “I said, ‘Well, we’re super interested, but I don’t have any money now because I just bought this other one.’”
January 2021: Lightner purchased the Milwaukee franchise and brought Paley on as partner. She will soon become part owner of all four of the group’s markets, which include nearly 70 trucks and 200 employees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the business has seen increased demand and in June 2020 expanded into the junk removal market.
“Being in the entrepreneur role means that you get to work to develop people and invest in your team,” said Paley. “I’ve been on the receiving end of this opportunity up until this point, and I’m really excited to give others those opportunities.”
The franchise fee: The initial investment for a “mini-market” runs between $100,000 and $192,000, and between $179,000 and $585,000 for a “standard market.”
“With all the economic stimulus, especially interest rates being low as they were, the housing market took off and we’ve been just swamped,” said Lightner. “Our biggest issue is being able to find employees to keep up with demand.”