By Duane Paul Murphy
On Monday, September 10, hundreds of students, faculty, and staff, mostly from The Tim and Steph Busch School of Business and Economics, gathered at Heritage Hall to listen to the life and career of a business executive whose trucking company is one of the biggest nationwide. Mario Enzler, finance professor and Master of Science in Ecclesial Administration and Management program director at the Busch School, introduced the speaker.
Brig Sorber, co-founder and CBO of the Lansing, Michigan based trucking company Two Men and A Truck International Inc., and his younger brother Jon as well as his mother, Mary Ellen Sheets, started a local trucking business with an old 1966 pick up truck back in the early 1980s in Okemos, outside of Lansing, in order to earn extra money on the side while the boys were in high school and off to college. While attending Northern Michigan University to study for his B.A. in geography, Sheets continued with the business by hiring two men and buying another truck for $350, or more than $1,000 in today’s money. By the late 1980s, Sheets decided to commit to the business full time and started to franchise as Sorber worked as an insurance agent after college and started a franchise in Marquette with his future wife, Francine. Today, Two Men and A Truck is the largest moving franchise in the world with more than 8,000 employees and 3,000 trucks on the road in more than 300 locations in the U.S., almost 30 in Canada, and one location in Ireland. While Mary Ellen Sheets was CEO at the time, she recently resigned and still remains a member of the board.
Throughout the entire lecture, Sorber highlighted how his tough times, especially dealing with depression, during his business’s success helped him found a better connection with his Catholic faith as well as other close family members and friends, especially from biblical influences such as Left Behind series and starting bible studies at his business.
During the questions-and-answers portion of the event, when asked about the near automation of trucking vehicles and the potential impact it will have on more than 1 million drivers, Sorber said he believed that automated vehicles could become a positive disruptor by freeing up human resource bureaucracies and an increase in movers; however, he was concerned about potential safety dangers from robotic vehicles on the road. When asked about how he personally communicates his mission and values between those within his company, Sorber has credited the power of social media and telecommunications in order to see how his franchises thrive nationwide and around the world.
Many students who attended the event praised Sorber for his Christian influence in his life and how he succeeded in business.
“As someone who is not Catholic but is a Christian I found the lecture to be very eye-opening and interesting,” said senior business management major Callie Silvestri. Silverstri said that Sorber’s idea of “keeping an open mind to the idea of exploring and growing religiously” stood out for her during the lecture.