Excerpt from “Railroad legacy fades”, Virginia Business, July 28, 2015.
Banking on a trend
“Crowning Touch Senior Moving Services acts as a one-stop shop for seniors who are downsizing and moving to new living spaces. It handles all aspects of the move: transferring belongings, selling the old house as-is and assisting in disposing of unneeded items through auctions and its consignment store.
“Linda Balentine, its founder and president, started the company 20 years ago while living out of two friends’ houses and relying on a single cell phone. Today, she has 22 employees and recently began franchising the company, planning 100 new Crowning Touch locations in the next five years, all in metropolitan areas with 1 million or more people.
“’Eighty million seniors over the next 30 years will be moving,’ Balentine says, describing the trend as a tsunami of gray hair. These seniors’ ‘needs are not being addressed by the moving industry. We’re the only moving company in the United States with a consignment shop, auction house and real estate division. There is no business model like this.’
“Balentine says she’s been courted by potential franchisees looking to open Crowning Touch locations in Iraq — she turned that one down — and the United Kingdom. A mid-June weekend found her pitching the company at the International Franchise Expo in New York City.
“That’s the kind of business growth that economic development advocates say represents the future of the Roanoke and New River valleys.”