When the housing bust hit in 2007, NorthStar Moving Corp. did what any struggling business would do: It offered customers doggie day care, feng shui advice and home-cooked meals.
OK. Not every company would offer such amenities, but the Chatsworth outfit is not ordinary. The high-end mover offers a “red carpet” service in which customers don’t lift a finger and it does work for Hollywood productions, including setting up the mansion for the ABC reality TV series “The Bachelor.”
But Ram Katalan, who co-founded NorthStar in 1994 with his wife, Laura McHolm, said the recession slowed moves to a crawl.
“The recession was very tough on us; it was a different reality. It almost felt like living in a science-fiction movie,” Katalan said. “For the last few years, we’ve been very cash poor, so we’ve had to come up with different ways to innovate.”
An ancient Chinese system of aesthetics, feng shui is believed to circulate positive chi, or energy, by harnessing the power of heaven and earth. In modern practice, it’s used to arrange homes and offices in a way that’s thought to bring people greater health, happiness and prosperity.
NorthStar partnered with Jennifer Bonetto of Real Feng Shui Soulutions in Santa Monica, who directs movers to set the couch and the dining room table at the precise locations and angles to maximize chi. As for the home-cooked meals, those come courtesy of Annie’s Edibles Inc. in Los Angeles near Culver City.
So far, the added luxury treatment and a thawing economy seem to be making a difference. The company recently leased seven more trucks bringing its fleet to 20. McHolm said the last week of June was NorthStar’s best in 18 years.
“One day we did the best day we’ve ever done and the next day we beat it and the next day we beat that,” she said.
– Bethany Firnhaber
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