America at work
Two Marines Moving: How One Veteran Started His Own Business
Free Enterprise Staff | June 1, 2015

Nick Baucom will participate in FreeEnterprise.com’s first-ever panel, “Why Should Startups Have All the Fun? Innovating At All Stages of Business,” at this year’s upcoming Small Business Summit. Stay tuned throughout the week for more information about the panel, which will take place the morning of Monday, June 8th. We’ll be live-Tweeting the event, and we’ll be broadcasting parts of it through Periscope, so you won’t want to miss it.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s something we’re asked our whole lives, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to answer. For Nick Baucom, it was especially difficult. That’s because when he was wrestling with the existential question, he was firmly in adulthood, having already served in the Marines from 2002 to 2008.

“I got out as a Sergeant, and I didn’t know my next step upon my discharge,” says Baucom. “I regularly received phone calls from family and friends asking me to help them move, saying they could use a good, strong Marine to help them take care of all their heavy items. I saw an opportunity. I wasn’t going to do this for beer and pizza anymore.”

That same night, Baucom planted the seeds of what would become Two Marines Moving, the business he started on November 10th, 2008—which, coincidentally, is the same date the Marines Corps was founded in 1775. In many respects, Baucom is like myriad other entrepreneurs who start their own businesses. He recognized the skills he already had were valuable to other people, and then he identified an area in the market where he could exploit that need.

Two Marines Moving sets itself apart in an otherwise crowded market because it hires veterans of the Armed Services, as well as law enforcement professionals. Its employees are its strongest asset and the linchpin of its development, says Christy Gutmann, a company co-owner and Baucom’s business partner. Aside from striving to help veterans acclimate to civilian life, much of the success the business has achieved thus far can be traced to qualities veterans inherently possess, Gutmann explains.

“If you’ve been in the military, then you’ve already gone through a certain fitness regimen that proves that you’re capable of doing the job, because moving is laborious,” she says. “A marine needs to be able to walk 10 miles with a 135-pound pack strapped to his back, so you’ve already proven that you can do those kinds of things. There’s a lot of discipline involved. I think that a lot of people who join the military—and they join for many reasons—but I think they want to better themselves and serve their country. Somebody who wants to better himself is generally going to perform better at work.”

Flash forward six years and what started as a fledgling moving company has transformed into a thriving business. Two Marines Moving counts more than 100 veterans among its employees, has a fleet of 20 moving trucks, and has conducted more than 10,000 moves. The company was named one of America’s fastest growing companies by Inc. Magazine, and it’s also been recognized by the White House, which praised it as an illustrative example of a successful small business.

While Baucom is proud of his company’s commitment to hiring veterans, its decision to do so is firmly rooted in sound business principles, he explains. “Make no mistake about it: This isn’t charity work,” Baucom stresses. “These men and women work hard and complete any mission given with tenacity and vigor, and they bring a unique skills set and attitude from their military background.”

Similarly, veterans across the U.S. are leveraging these kinds of qualities as they start their own businesses. The military imbues in cadets a sense of self-control, Gutmann says, and the vast majority of veterans are already skilled leaders, having commanded troops in often-volatile settings. Meanwhile, veterans looking to start their own businesses have access to more resources than ever before, in both the public and private sectors. TEDCO Capital Partners, for example, recently launched a venture fund exclusively aimed at financing veteran-owned businesses.

For his part, Baucom is looking forward to steering Two Marines Moving toward continued growth. He’s also writing a book, “On the Move: A Marine’s Guide to Entrepreneurial Success,” which he hopes will spur more veterans to start their own companies.

“I’m excited about where we’ve come from, where we are now, and where we are going,” he says. “The success we’ve had here in D.C. can be replicated in any major city in the U.S. and I’m looking forward to doing just that.”