As co-founder and CEO of NorthStar Moving & Storage Company, Ram Katalan has created a business built upon his sincere dedication to meet the highest standards for service and integrity with his clients, team members and local communities.
Born in Israel, Ram grew up on a small moshav (a cooperative agricultural community of individual farms) called Moshav Mishmar HaShiv’a. After attending Gymnasia Irvit Herzilya High School and the Military Academy Boarding School Tel Aviv, he then served in the Sayeret company of “Shuali Shimshon” Samson’s Foxes (an elite commando unit that is part of the Givati Brigade in the Israeli Special Forces) from 1982 to 1986. Ram has remained lifelong friends with his team; every year they gather together in Israel to participate in an outdoor adventure.
The Samson’s Foxes unit of the Israeli Special Forces is highly competitive; it is difficult to gain admittance much less complete the required period of service. Ram was able to perfect skills such as self-reliance; athletic ability; strict adherence to time schedules; attention to operational details; quick thinking under pressure; teamwork; and reaching and obtaining objectives – each essential to running a successful moving and storage business.
Ram immigrated to the United States, “the land of opportunity,” when he was 22 years old. After working on commercial fishing boats in Alaska, he took a job as a mover in a New York moving company, Sabra’s (later purchased by Moishe’s Moving Systems). Sabra’s and Moishe’s were both started by Israelis (sabra is actually a term for a native-born Israeli). At that time, many Israelis were working in the moving industry. Ram liked the physical aspect of the work, as well as being in a different location every day. He enjoyed encountering all types of people and caring for them while their lives were in transition. Ram quickly worked his way up to Team Leader, and then became Operations Manager.
Ram later ventured to the west coast where in San Francisco, he met his future wife and business partner, Laura McHolm. Ram and Laura discovered they both had type A personalities and liked to work 24 hours a day, seven days week. Having worked for Fortune 500 companies, Laura wanted to follow her entrepreneurial spirit. Ram loved the logistics of a moving company and the complex details it took to organize and implement a stress-free move.
Ram was well aware that the moving industry did not have a good reputation for customer care. He knew that people do not enjoy moving. Ram believed there had to be a way to provide excellent service, while at the same time, ease the stress of moving for clients. With a desire to solve this problem, he and Laura co-founded NorthStar Moving Company in 1994.
Ram and Laura knew they needed to prove that “moving day” did not have to mean chaos and dealing with an unreliable moving company. They made it a high-priority to provide special customized care, and were first in the industry to offer eco-luxury moving packages. From the Client Loyalty Team, to the Estimators, to Dispatch, to the Movers themselves, the NorthStar Moving team aims to provide dependable, stellar service; so clients can relax and be comfortable during the moving process.
Ram feels that the biggest challenge for NorthStar Moving was the 2008 economic downturn. The real estate market took a negative hit, which then, unfortunately, affected the moving industry. Believing great service is always a commodity, Ram and Laura were determined to sidestep the recession by focusing on the high-net-worth market. They also used their personal savings to fund the company instead of resorting to employee layoffs. In return, they found they were rewarded with loyal and dedicated employees.
In fact, NorthStar Moving was recently recognized for the ninth consecutive year as one of the “Best Places To Work” in the greater Los Angeles area by the Los Angeles Business Journal (08/20/18). Of the final 100 companies, NorthStar Moving ranked #23 in the best medium-sized company category. Employee-completed workplace experience surveys made up 75% of the ranking process, the significance of which is not lost on Ram who said: “In our over 20 years in business, I truly believe that this is our greatest achievement, creating a place where people love to come to work every day… our team is the heart of NorthStar Moving and without them we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
And the recognition does not stop there; NorthStar Moving has been featured in The Huffington Post, Elle Décor, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, The Robb Report, CNN Money, NBC Nightly News, HGTV’s Selling LA; rated “A+” by the Better Business Bureau; voted “Best Mover” by Citysearch; awarded “the most five-star ratings” on TrustLink and Yelp; ranked on the Inc. 5,000 List as one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S.; designated a “Certified ProMover” by the American Moving & Storage Association; and has been recommended by The Franklin Report and MovingInsurance.com, not to mention an impressive list of celebrity clientele.
Commitment to community and a dedication to maintaining a safe, friendly environment for clients and team members is at the forefront of Ram’s vision for his company’s culture. NorthStar Moving has been recognized for its green initiatives: besides the use of sustainable packing materials (such as eco-bubble and moving boxes made of 100% recyclable materials); box recycling incentives are offered; and their moving trucks have been converted to run on Biodiesel. NorthStar Moving also volunteers services and contributes financial support to over a dozen charitable and socially-conscious organizations (including Chabad, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Global Green USA, Goodwill of Southern California, Habitat for Humanity, Karma Rescue, Lou Parker Project, Make-A-Wish LA, Miry’s List, Move for Hunger) and also recently joined the Open to All coalition, pledging to reject discrimination, promote acceptance and interact respectfully with all people, on equal terms.
Utilizing the skills he developed during his time in the Israeli Special Forces, Ram Katalan has built NorthStar Moving & Storage Company from the ground up. Entering its 25th year, it is the largest independent moving company in California and moves 8,000 – 10,000 people per year.
Ram’s future plans include: focusing on franchising and company growth; ongoing community involvement; continuing to create a best place to work for team members; and making the world a better place, one move at a time. As always, Ram Katalan will continue to redefine the moving industry and strive to ensure everyone receives the same high level of service that has come to be expected from NorthStar Moving & Storage Company.
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