The Jackson County Advocate has profiled the Cartwright Companies in a recent edition of their newspaper. The Cartwright Companies was selected due to their long-standing establishment in the local community.
“Worldwide Business, Local Values”
By Seann McAnally, J.C. Advocate
July 7, 2011
Cartwright Companies does business internationally, but calls Grandview home
When a business executive, diplomat or military officer relocates overseas – or is already overseas and is moving back to the States – chances are, Cartwright Companies of Grandview is making it all happen.
Tom Cartwright, a vice president with the company, explained what, in a nutshell, the company does – though in his own words, it “can be hard to explain.”
“Essentially, we move household goods for U.S. military, federal agencies (Dept. of State, DEA, etc.), and individuals,” he said. “We specialize in international moves.” That means navigating a complex web of customs officials, port authorities, overseas shipping and residential relocation.
Many Grandview residents might not be aware that, nestled among the industrial buildings in the city’s northwest corridor is Cartwright’s international headquarters, the epicenter of a massive moving, shipping and logistics network. While it does do some domestic (that is, with in the United States) moves, the focus is on international relocation. The company is also branching into the future with new technology that aims to streamline relocation, payroll, and other services for businesses with far-flung international locations. Cartwright has more than 100 employees, with offices in Portland, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix. Cartwright also manages a global network of thousands of business partners and vendors.
But it all started, literally, with a husband, wife, and a truck.
William and Jesse Cartwright started the company in 1934. At that time it was a local moving services company located at 72nd and Prospect in south Kansas City. Over the decades it blossomed, and by the 1960s, it was a 48-state van line, and moved to its current location in Grandview in 1966.
Late in that decade, Cartwright went international when it acquired the rights to an international freight forwarding line. Now, after celebrating its 75th anniversary a few years ago, the company has evolved into a diverse organization that covers all aspects of relocation and logistics.
“The Cartwright Companies have been a rock-solid business in our community for decades,” said Mayor Steve Dennis. “I can’t remember a time in my life when Cartwright hasn’t been a part of the Grandview business community.”
The unifying factor in those decades of business and diverse operations is a simple and strong one – family.
“We have a real family atmosphere here,” said Tom Cartwright. At 44 years old, he’s in the third generation of the family business that started with his grandpa so long ago. His dad, Mike, became CEO of the company after working there for nearly 50 years. Tom and his two brothers, Craig and Andy, are all executives at the company who oversee different areas of operation.
But there was no special treatment for the Cartwright boys. They worked their way up from the lower rungs on the ladder, with most of them starting their Cartwright careers in the warehouse and others coming back into the family business after acquiring expertise elsewhere. They’ve taken that intimate knowledge of how the company works from the ground up all the way to the executive board room.
Of course, working with family has its advantages and disadvantages, Tom said.
“We definitely go home and talk about it at the table,” he said, adding that the family dynamic occasionally spills over into the workplace, and vice versa. But overall, he said, keeping the focus on family is one of the things that make the company strong. Tom said the having family leadership over the decades encourages a feeling of loyalty and stability among the company’s customers and employees.
“You can rely on each other a little more, when you’re working with family,” he said. “We can push each other a little more and identify problems and find solutions very quickly.”
Joel Crampton, marketing manager for the company, said that family atmosphere also gives employees access to upper management.
“They’re always in the trenches, getting into projects,” Crampton said. He added that the company has a fairly “horizontal” organizational structure. That family environment lets employees operate in a non-political sort of atmosphere that allows individuals to shine and rewards their achievements, Crampton said.
Cartwright is currently very busy, as the summer months heat up.
“When schools let out, the orders come in,” Tom said. “We’re doing twice what we did last year.”
The company’s biggest overseas markets are those where U.S. companies and military do the most business – places like Japan, Germany and Italy. But Grandview is home.
Dennis praised the company for its commitment to its employees and its strong reputation around the world.
“To have an international company, run with such integrity and ethics, by such an incredible family, right here in our city is such a tremendous blessing for our town,” Dennis said. “The employment opportunities they provide and the respect that they lavish on their employees is a model for all businesses to emulate. We are so grateful that they call Grandview their home.”
About the Cartwright Companies
During our 77 year history, the Cartwright family of companies has moved tens of thousands of people across the country and around the globe. Our focus is on providing integrated global mobility solutions for corporations, US government agencies and our military families. Our ability to manage the complete assignment management lifecycle, from cost estimates to in-country payroll to repatriation, through our integrated global mobility solution, is unmatched in the industry.
About the Jackson County Advocate
The Jackson County Advocate is an award-winning, hyper-local weekly newspaper serving Grandview and South Kansas City. For more than 55 years, the Advocate has been proud to be a vital member of the local community. The Advocate is a member of the Missouri Press Association.
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