In the fall of 1987, during fall break of his freshman year at Radford University, John Lugar, and a friend moved a family to Jacksonville, Florida. They volunteered, he said, to earn a little money and see Florida. The following May, after school ended, they moved another family to Georgia and came back with the idea of starting a moving company. That company has grown into Virginia Varsity Companies.
“We were young and healthy, and that’s all,” he remembers. Lugar typed – yes, typed – hundreds of “primitive flyers,” and distributed them to his father’s real estate office. They would rent a truck for each job. “Financially, it was organic. Job by job,” he says. But, by the time Lugar graduated in 1991, the business had built up. “I didn’t have to get a job,” he laughs. Come the mid-1990s; the company was busy enough to get an office.
“We had an idea of where we wanted to be; the market we wanted,” he says. Lugar positioned Virginia Varsity between the big van lines and the small cheap outfits. “We felt there was a void in the middle. We took the negatives people have about moving companies and turned them on their heads.”
Most of the company’s business – 90 percent – is local, Lugar said. Virginia Varsity is nationally licensed and unaffiliated. He says they also have some national customers; move people back to Roanoke, and move repeat customers from one place to another, such as Richmond to Raleigh.
He remembers the day in 1993 that marked the first time they had multiple jobs. Three two-man teams each moved two customers. These days, they will move about 200 customers a month in the summer (the busiest time) with a staff of 45. He hires college students during the summer months. He said they often come back year after year, and can work at a higher level each time. And, he says, “they can see the United States.” Does Lugar still help with the occasional move? “I’ve aged out,” he says, but notes that in about 1,000 moves, he visited 22 different states.
Virginia Varsity got into storage in 1998 and moved to its current headquarters location off Apperson Drive in 2005. The headquarters features a full kitchen, a gym and a training space. Lugar values his employees. “We have the best staff we’ve ever had.”