Wedding Planners of the Moving Industry

Value Added: The “Move Management” Industry

By Thomas Heath

My 92-year-old mother motors around her two-bedroom, one-floor ranch home in Syracuse, N.Y., with the help of a walker and comforted by a lifetime of mementos, photographs (not enough of yours truly), her old furniture and the daily presence of my brother and sister, both of whom live close by. You couldn’t pry mom from her home with a crowbar.

But many senior citizens aren’t lucky enough to have family in the neighborhood and an easily navigable home. So in steps Transitional Assistance and Design, a Gaithersburg firm that helps seniors move from a beloved home to somewhere more suited to their circumstances.

“When you say moving and downsizing to anybody, their stomach probably goes south,” said co-owner Joel Danick. “What we do for our elderly clients is to make something in a smaller version while maintaining the features of the original. We are the wedding planners of the moving industry.”

A business school professor told me once that if you had enough money and a need, you can always pay somebody to fulfill it. That’s what I thought of when I talked to Joel and Susie Danick, who started the company in 2000.

This is a cottage industry now coming to the forefront, said the Danicks. There are about 500 “move management” consultants around the country, ready to tap into the 78 million Baby Boomers headed for retirement, not to mention the dwindling members of my mom’s generation.

The Danicks started their company when Susie, who was 38 at the time and a part-time nurse, helped move her grandmother from Chevy Chase to Brighton Gardens, a senior citizen living complex in Friendship Heights, right over the line from the District. The grandmother, who was in her 80s, was reluctantly leaving her spacious condominium for a small studio. She feared she was heading toward a nursing-home.

Susie painted the apartment in similar colors to the Chevy Chase place, and duplicated the furniture arrangements in the living room and bedroom areas so they were similar to what she had in the condominium.

“When she went there it felt like home,” said Joel, 50.

The Brighton Gardens sales and marketing agent asked if the complex could show the apartment to other potential tenants, as a model of how cozy the new home could be. Word got around and others started asking Susie if she would decorate their apartments. She had 35 clients her first year.

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