When Ardella “Dell” Melton established Berea Moving & Storage in 1961, she didn’t anticipate that the company would one day serve high-profile clients including the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland Orchestra and NASA. Dell was simply focused on starting a profitable business in a male-dominated industry.
She enlisted the help of her husband, Willard Melton Sr., a Cleveland police officer who moonlighted at Berea Moving, and their children, Lisa and Willard Jr. (Woody). Business was steady but not always profitable for the company, which evolved from residential-only to military and commercial moves. In 1997, Dell filed bankruptcy. The family worked hard to pay back the company’s debt, but had not yet succeeded when Dell passed away in 2006. With no succession plan in place, the company’s future lay in the hands of Dell’s daughter, Lisa Holly.
“I was inspired by my mother’s drive to build this business yet I knew I needed buy-in from every employee if we were going to make a go of this. I asked the question ‘Quit or fight?’ We decided unanimously to fight. It was a defining moment for all of us,” Lisa shares.