Moving -- it's a trauma that hits everyone eventually, but Eugene I. Kane has made a profitable way of life out of handling even the trickiest of moves.
Whether the job calls for moving the 'E' out of HEW of transferring the infamous Nixon tapes from the White House to the Archives, Gene Kane's Office Movers says it is equipped to handle it. The company's latest project calls for coordinating Mobil Oil's move to Fairfax from New York City.
A native Washington, Kane started in the general freight business more than 30 years ago with a family-owned firm that served the Baltimore-Washington area. In 1969 he purchased his own company, which eventually grew to become E. I. Kane.
Over the past few years, Kane expanded his business into a number of tucking and moving businesses including. Office Movers Inc., which specializes in commercial office and industrial moves. The company also stores and distributes electronic office equipment for manufacturers from its Landover and Baltimore warehouses.
Besides the logistical problems that all moving companies must face, Office Movers must be able to complete its work without disrupting the office flow of their customers' business.
"We can move around 60 office personnel in a single night with the type of mass production moving we use," Kane said, "without people having to worry about losing a single paper clip by the time we're finished."
Kane estimated that in a single year his Office Movers can move close to 60,000 office positions, an office position being the office furnishings and equipment on a single employe of the customer
According to Robert Johnston, Office Movers' vice president, the fee charged for a move varies a great deal.
"For a simple move we might charge around $60 per office position; but for a law firm that has a lot of files that need to be boxed and moved, the cost would run higher, $150 per position. For a suitcase shuffle from one floor to another within a building, the fee might be as low as $15 per position," Johnston said.
Regardless of the move, the largest source of overhead remains labor cost. Kane expects to pay employes close to $75,000 in wages for the Mobil Oil move this summer. Even though Office Movers is only handling the Washington area end of Mobil's move, the logistics involve using 30 to 40 people per shift for three to four months, working primarily at night and on the weekend when streets and freight elevators are relatively clear of traffic.
"We're subcontracting this end of the move from New York's Seven Santinti Brothers on a time and materials basis. Mobil's people seem please using local people for the job," Kane said.
Although Kane wouldn't disclose the total fee for the Mobil move, he did say that eight years ago, Office Movers cleared well of $100,000 for filling the 44-story USF&G Insurance building on the Baltimore waterfront. f
Besides handling the big jobs, Kanes company has handled a few unusual assignments.
One incident occurred a few years back when some cattlemen came to Washington to protest government polices. When the march was over, the cattlemen had left livestock behind to do a little grazing on the mall. Earl Butz, then secretary of Agriculture, called Kane to "come and move them animals out of my backyard." Being under contract at the time with Agriculture, Kane immediately obliged, and by six that evening the roundup was completed.