Aaron B. Steed is co-founder, president & CEO of Meathead Movers. He founded Meathead Movers at seventeen years old in 1997 with his brother, Evan. As CEO, Steed has established an open-door style of management, similar to that of a coach, and is well-known for being happily available to assist employees at their jobs or in their personal lives.
While running full-scale ahead to success, Steed has never let Meathead Movers forget its roots. He has maintained the same mission of assisting student-athletes achieve their goals by providing them with a flexible and educational workplace. He has also maintained the practice of assisting victims of domestic violence by providing moving services at no cost. Meathead Movers has and will continue to partner with local women’s shelters in all of the communities it serves, thanks to Steed’s leadership.
Following viral media coverage in 2015, Steed and the team at Meathead Movers launched the #MoveToEndDV campaign to continue to bring awareness to the cause and encourage other businesses to get involved. Since then, nearly 200 businesses nationwide have pledged to also donate products or services to shelters, victims, and survivors of domestic violence.
Steed’s commitment to student-athletes stems from his personal experience as a high school and college wrestler. He knows many student-athletes might have to choose between a job, working out, and honoring athletic commitments, but at Meathead Movers, they don’t have to. Each Meathead Movers service location offers an on-site gym and also works around employees’ school and athletic schedules.
Steed currently resides in Avila Beach, California with his wife Erin. In his free time, he enjoys taking advantage of living in California’s Wine Country or venturing out and exploring the world with his wife. He also makes time to work out and read as he believes one should never stop learning.
Tell me about your early career.
My brother, Evan Steed, and I started Meathead Movers in 1997, when I was a high school junior and Evan a freshman. Because of our school and athletic commitments, we were having difficulties finding part-time work that fit around our busy schedules. One day, we helped a friend’s parents move — which led to some immediate word of mouth about our labor service. The customary fee back then was usually $20.00 and pizza for a day’s labor. We enjoyed the workout of moving, but we also enjoyed the gratitude we received from our clients after a job well done.
At the time, we didn’t even own trucks! Customers would rent a moving van or truck, pick us up themselves, drive us to their house and we would load their belongings. The client would then drive the moving truck to the new home, and our movers would unload. I asked the clients to pay what they wanted. We were clean-cut, polite, and hard-working. We posted flyers with tear-off strips holding my pager number and soon began getting some response to our flyers that we printed in high school computer class. I would usually get paged during school class time and would return the calls between classes from the school payphone. Word of mouth spread, and within a few years, we were completely supporting ourselves—able to purchase our own cars, clothes, food and rent, as well as employ about 25 of our friends.
Some people told us that they doubted that we could make the transition from labor service to full-fledged business. But our vision of young and energetic student athletes delivering a unique customer service experience kept us relentlessly striving to make it happen. Soon, our fledgling enterprise was fielding as many moving jobs as we could possibly handle, and Meathead Movers, Inc. became a full-time occupation for us.
How did the concept for Meathead Movers come about?
When Evan and I were in high school, the girls’ sports teams would call us “Meatheads” in the locker room. We just started owning that title. To us, a Meathead was a strong, clean-cut student athlete — and that’s what we were. As we started providing moves for our friend’s parents alongside our fellow “Meatheads”, the name just stuck.
What was your marketing strategy?
In the beginning, word of mouth was really out marketing strategy. We developed a reputation in our community and never seized to meet those expectations. As we continued to grow, we started partnering with outside marketing agencies to spread the word about our services, core value and unique differences in an industry that is notoriously shady.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We grew at a very steady pace in the beginning and started to expand pretty rapidly as our business started to outgrow certain service areas. We now have four offices in San Luis Obispo, Ventura County, Fresno, and Orange County. We have been on the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list for the last six years.
How do you define success?
If you’re proud of who you are and what you can do for others.
What is the key to success?
Starting with the end goal of whatever you’re trying to achieve and be diligent and intentional towards working towards that goal.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
You must be credible. Don’t exaggerate, bullshit, or be manipulative. Your words must have credence and substance.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“The journey is the reward.”
“Do common things in an uncommon way and you will get the world’s attention.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Getting insurance renewals that increased 300% YOY and being faced with insurmountable cash flow issues. It forced us to lay off 75% of our administrative staff and completely restructure our business and renegotiate our agreements with all of our vendors. I went from feeling like a young millionaire to a loser having frequent panic attacks.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Nothing I have faced in business is as grueling as what I experienced wrestling in high school and college. Like everything, its all relative.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
If you have the burning desire to do something, do it, because if you don’t you will be haunted by it. However, you must go all-in and live it, love it, and believe it. There is no work life balance. There is work life integration, and it’s okay if your friends and family don’t understand it or agree with it. There is NOTHING like building a brand and living the American Dream.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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