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Rocky roads await those in moving market

Rising gas prices, lack of truck drivers, new technology provide challenges.

By TIMOTHY J. GIBBONS, The Times-Union

Brad Estrin has spent his life in the moving business, starting as a dispatcher for a brokerage service and working his way up to executive vice president at Jacksonville-based Suddath Relocation Systems.
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The business now is a lot different from the one he started in decades ago.

“Our industry has changed more in the last 20 years than in the previous 80,” he said, “and more in the last five than in the rest of the 20.”

And coming years promise to be more turbulent: Changes in regulations. Rising gas prices. A moribund housing market. Difficulty finding drivers.

Through the first four months of this year, the industry’s overall revenue has been down about 12 percent, said Pat Jennings, vice president of the American Moving and Storage Association in Alexandria, Va.

The summer moving season – when about 60 percent of all moving takes place – doesn’t look like it will be much better. “I’m hoping it won’t be 12 percent,” Jennings said. “It’s picking up but it’s still a lot less than last year. I don’t see the housing market picking up in the fall.”

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