In 1938, a Swiss immigrant named Christian Beetcham opened an antique furniture shop in New York City naming it “Victory Furniture and Antiques.”
Unable to afford a delivery van, Christian utilized a local moving company to make the furniture deliveries. One of Christian’s problems was that furniture damage occurred during delivery, thereby eroding much of the profit and generating customer dissatisfaction. To remedy this, Christian began making the deliveries personally and eventually acquired the drayage truck by bartering furniture inventory.
Soon Christian realized that delivering antiques was more enjoyable than selling them and he sold the antiques business for another truck and changed the name of the company to “Victory Van Lines.”
In 1958, Christian became partners with Robert O’Donnell, a former Captain of the United States Air Force who had a transportation and logistics background. The firm was incorporated in New York and became the first east coast agent of Global Van Lines. In the 1960s and 1970s, Victory specialized in local moving and storage and the name became synonymous with quality, reliability and consistency.
In 1975, Jim Simpson, a college freshman, drove to Victory’s store front office on a motorcycle, looking for a job in order to help pay his tuition and was hired. Jim worked full time while attending St. John’s University.
When Jim joined the company there was no warehouse, forklift and Victory parked its small fleet of trucks alongside a two-family house in a residential neighborhood while occupying a small fifteen by twenty-foot office with several office employees near the Staten Island Ferry.
Jim worked first as a packer, then as a van foreman and was the first Victory driver able to drive an over the road thirteen speed tractor-trailer driver. In his Junior year, Jim moved up to be the dispatcher then a Certified Moving Consultant selling moving services to consumers. After graduating Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree and preparing Jim for law school the owner Bob O’Donnell developed serious health problems and could no longer endure running the company. There were no experienced managers as it was a small firm, so it was either Jim manage the company or close the doors. Jim decided to delay law school a year and within that time decided running a company was more rewarding than being a lawyer. As Jim tells the story, “it was the loyal and dedicated hard-working front-line employees that kept the company going as everyone loved working for Bob O’Donnell and with Bob’s guidance I learned how to motivate and lead the workforce.” In time Jim became Bob’s partner and subsequently became the sole stockholder. In less than a decade, Victory grew to become the largest international agent of United Van Lines and its largest single stockholder, as well as one of the top corporate household and office moving companies in the country.
In the 1980s and 1990s, with its focus on high quality domestic and international moving services for corporate household and office moving, Victory saw rapid growth. During this time, the company began hiring numerous personnel including many retired or part-time New York City police officers and firefighters for both managerial and craft positions. Victory also recruited veterans and have had numerous former military personnel as Victory employees, including a Two-Star Admiral who was the Commander of the John F. Kennedy Carrier Battle Group as well as a former fighter pilot as the Chief Operating Officer.
In addition, Victory hired former clients who were relocation and transportation professionals including the former heads of Relocation and Transportation at Fortune 20 companies including a former National Employee Relocation Council President. Victory served many of the nation’s top Fortune 100 companies including: AT&T, IBM, American Express, Mobil Oil, General Foods, General Electric, Chase Manhattan Bank, Coca Cola, Merck, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Fidelity Investments and Citibank to name a few.
Victory has been among the top firms for high quality Executive Relocation, both domestically and internationally. The company also serviced the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies as well as individuals paying for their own move. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, America was truly a mobile society with over twenty percent of the population moving annually.
Much of Victory’s rapid growth was due mainly to globalization of corporate America which began heavily relocating employees around the world. By 1990 Victory had over fifty agents in over twenty-five countries and regional offices in Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Chicago.
Victory has been the recipient of numerous quality awards as supplier/mover of the year for such companies as AT&T, Lucent Technologies, GTE, Mobil Oil, Bell Laboratories, Agere Systems and others. The awards include: The United States Department of Commerce International Trade Award, the first and only recipient of the National Moving & Storage Association(AMSA) Employer of the Year Award, the Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award, and the only moving company to receive the United State Department of Commerce International Excellence award. AT&T hosted Victory’s staff, over two hundred guests and the United States Department of Commerce at its world headquarters for the presentation of the award. Lastly, Victory’s President was an “Ernst Young/NASDAQ Entrepreneur of the Year” Semi-Finalist.
Before companies began to think about Crisis Management, Victory was already the “go-to” company to relocate families after a disaster, natural or otherwise, because of its diverse leadership and global client list.
In 1990, before Iraq invaded Kuwait, Victory, on very short notice, moved dozens of families out the country for several multi-national corporations. Many of the returning expatriates literally turned the keys of their homes over to Victory and left with the clothes on their backs.
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida as a category five hurricane. AT&T called upon Victory to relocate many of its employees out of South Florida before and after the hurricane hit. Once the hurricane passed, Victory flew its entire management team to Miami and managed what later became known as “The AT&T Disaster Team” from the Doral Hotel. Working for weeks, mobilizing dozens of trucks and personnel, Victory relocated every family needing relocation out of South Florida. Victory never submitted an invoice for any of the expenditures as AT&T was a valued client. After, Victory was presented the “AT&T Spirit of Excellence Award” by AT&T’s senior leadership and was also recognized by Governor Lawton Chiles of Florida for its efforts to help Floridians.
After the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in Manhattan on September 11th, 2001, Victory was the first moving company on site to relocate numerous families from the Ground Zero area into temporary housing.
In 2003, terrorists bombed several housing compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where numerous expatriates were living. Victory was called upon to relocate personnel and effects for employees living in the Al Hamra area and other expatriate housing compounds.
In 2011, after Hurricane Irene hit the New York New Jersey area, Victory mobilized crews during August the busiest month in the moving industry to move countless families suffering from flooding.
In 2012, after Superstorm Sandy hit the New York/New Jersey region, Victory mobilized and donated one of its entire warehouses on an entire New York city block for the exclusive use of the relief effort delivering equipment, clothing and needed supplies where needed for well over a year. Additionally, Victory supported the less fortunate by donating trucks and personnel to move what could be salvaged after the flooding.
These rapid, effectively executed crisis responses are a testament to the management abilities of the Victory team. They also illustrate the confidence that corporations and communities have had in our ability to get things done, be socially responsible, and rise to any challenge.
On the early morning of September 11th, 2001, Jim Simpson was about to chair a public meeting of the Real Estate and Planning Committee of the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where he served as a Commissioner, for the Governor of New York, when the two commercial airliners crashed into each of the Twin Towers. Jim cancelled the MTA meeting and immediately drove to City Hall to help assist his friend New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani any way possible.
Upon arriving at the Mayor’s office, three blocks from the World Trade Center, Jim was asked by the Mayor’s Senior Executive Assistant to take some files and follow the Deputy Chief of Staff, two Executive assistants and a police officer to the Emergency Command Center, which was located at the base of the Twin Towers to meet the Mayor. When they were within a block of the North tower, the South Tower began to collapse. Jim and the Mayor’s staffers, along with thousands of others, ran for their lives as the building collapsed.
In the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, Jim worked alongside the Mayor and the Governor’s office and was asked to assist in the coordination, clean up, and rebuilding of Ground Zero. Jim was tasked with coordinating transportation and other related issues, between the offices of Governor George Pataki, Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Sometime after September 11th, 2001 Jim Simpson decided to change paths and pursue public service. When President George W. Bush was re-elected to a second term, the President appointed Jim to lead the Federal Transit Administration in Washington, DC, and Jim was confirmed by the United States Senate. One of the first pressing issues Jim dealt with was the rebuilding of Ground Zero. Jim and the FTA provided oversight for the construction and management of billions of dollars of funding for the re-development of Ground Zero.
After serving President Bush, in January 2010, Jim re-entered public service when the Governor of New Jersey chose Jim to lead New Jersey’s State Department of Transportation as the Commissioner (Secretary). Jim served during such historic events as Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy, major snowstorms and even an earthquake all while rebuilding New Jersey’s massive infrastructure and managing 17,000 employees over several agencies. During his four and a half years of service, the Associated Press coined Jim “A Transportation Rock Star” and the New Jersey papers called Jim “The Reluctant Master of Disaster,” “The most powerful man in Transportation, “and “General Jim Simpson” for his leadership style and ability to get things done. Jim was given special recognition by the Governor and the entire New Jersey State Legislature at the Governor’s State of the State Address for leading the Department of Transportation through Super Storm Sandy and rebuilding much of the infrastructure in record time.
It was during the period from 2005 to 2015, while Jim was performing public service that the leadership of Victory moved away from performing corporate household goods relocation. This was due to exorbitant industry- wide price discounting in moving services coupled with outsourcing of relocation services to third party providers. The Victory management team decided that pricing below costs while delivering white glove VIP service was a race to the bottom. Victory leadership began to dedicate all its resources toward commercial, hospitality, healthcare and specialized equipment moving and real estate development.
Jim returned to Victory in February 2018 and his brother Steven Simpson returned in September 2018 so that the both can lead Victory in a new direction and back to its roots of superior quality Transportation Services including domestic and international relocations, Warehouse distribution, Installation of Furniture and Fixtures, Logistics, Freight and Crisis Mitigation Moves.
Given the industry’s shortage of seasoned management at all levels, drivers, packers, installers, movers and complaints of poor service in all segments of the industry, it was clear that superior quality, reasonably priced, specialized transportation services would be a great value proposition for businesses and consumers alike and an opportunity for profitable and sustained growth for Victory.
A new strategy, namely “Victory 2.0 Moving”, was initiated in January 2019 and Victory is re-defining the moving experience. As we seek to improve the customer experience, we are asking our customers to define what it means to have an outstanding move.
The first order of business was to rebrand and renew our fleet of trucks. Our own research revealed that most of the moving industry’s fleet is tired and worn out. Additionally, Victory’s original trucks in the 1940’s were painted bright red. As the expression goes; “the more things change, the more they stay the same!” we designed a new Ferrari red paint scheme with retro lettering from the 1940s it is eye catching and the talk of the industry.
The paint colors also pay respect to the early founders of Victory who paved the way as we enter our eighty-second year of continued business with only three owners. We also made the decision to purchase only trucks from three equipment manufacturers who offer the best the industry has to offer, namely Peterbilt, Kenworth and Freightliner.
While new and freshly painted trucks do not define the level of service, they elevate the level of safety and well as project our strength and viability. When a clean new Victory truck arrives at a customer’s home or office and the crew is dressed in crisp uniforms, the stage is set for the cycle of outstanding, white glove, “high touch” service.
In addition to investing in fixed assets, management has always realized this is a people business and is developing all its current personnel and recruiting the best personnel in the industry to achieve our goal of total customer satisfaction. One of the first priorities has been to find the third generation of leadership and every hire is geared to generate excitement, job satisfaction, low turnover and monetary rewards that brought all the previous generations of outstanding employees to Victory over the last 86 years and get the company to its Centennial celebration.
Our mission is clear and has not changed in over forty years: to develop and maintain permanent relationships with our customers by providing superior quality, consistent, cost-effective transportation services. Victory is within everyone’s reach! As General Douglas MacArthur once said, “There’s No Substitute For Victory!!”