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Mark Muss - reborn

Nov 10, 2016
Mark Muss has joined Packimpex in Geneva. It’s his first change of employer for over 20 years. As he prepared to get to grips with his new role, Steve Jordan spoke to him about his continuing ambition in the industry that has been a way of life for him since schooldays.

To many it might seem that Mark Muss has been in the moving industry forever, yet he’s still only 44 years old.  There can, therefore, only be one conclusion, he started young.  

He got bitten by the moving bug in 1991 when he joined Pickfords as a management trainee then became a deputy branch manager.  In 1993 he joined Arthur Pierre in Belgium, followed by Interdean in 1995.  After a year working in Munich the company patriarch, Victor Bondarenko, send him to work in Budapest for a couple of years.  He was there for seventeen.  Under Paul Evans’ ownership of Interdean Mark became the company’s director for central Europe.  Still with Interdean/Santa Fe, he moved to Switzerland in 2012, able to exploit his ability to speak French and German, where he ran the Swiss and Italian operations and dramatically developed the company’s relocation services.  Unfortunately, however, earlier this year Mark was made redundant as the company restructured its operations.  For him, a new chapter was about to begin. He was to be reborn.  

After a few months taking stock, Mark was offered a position with Packimpex in Switzerland. “I am absolutely over the moon to be working with Marcel [Jörg] and the team," he said.  “It fits the profile I’m looking for perfectly and I really wanted to stay in Switzerland.”    

Despite his years of service with his previous company that came to an unexpected end, he has lost none of his drive and enthusiasm. “It feels like I have got my second wind,” he said, adding that he has a more educated enthusiasm nowadays.  “I am more deliberate about what I go for.  I’m not famous for holding back and I used to be excited about everything, but I am no longer interested in doing low-margin business.”   

What excited Mark in particular about his move to Packimpex is the company’s approach to the digital age.  “We have to ensure that our customers can have a good experience online.  For example, how can people purchase mobility services such as home search and immigration, online through a web portal and how do we carry out those processes? How  are we going to make the next generation buy products in the future? Of course they might not be the same products that we have sold for the last 25 years.”  

He relishes the job of keeping up with technology but admits that it is “ absolutely frightening”.   “If you are not educating yourself daily on what can be done you are out of the picture,” he explained.  “That’s why I wanted to join Packimpex.  Marcel has got some real vision about how we want to drive the business.  For example you could buy a home-search online and pay with PayPal on a Saturday night.  Not wait until Monday morning to talk to someone.”  Mark uses the example of which is a site that will provide an orientation tour of any city in the world for £20/hour.  “If you are not aware of that kind of thing you are out of the game.”  

However he understands his role as someone who has the benefit of experience.  “When you are a little older you have to guide the younger people using your experience and skills to make the best of the new opportunities
 as they emerge.”     

Asked to gaze into his crystal ball to guess how the moving industry will develop in the future, Mark has some encouragement for the traditionalists – but not much.  “I  believe that there will still be a market for corporate international moving and relocation in the traditional manner.  I don’t think that will ever disappear but the size of the market will shrink.  I think a lot of the players will disappear and become subcontractors to the big companies who get the work. There are some companies that will not survive because they are too big to be subcontractors and they are not doing anything different.  If they have overheads, staff and warehouses and are trying to compete with the guy who parks his truck in the street at night, it’s never going to work for them.”  

Relocation too is experiencing a shake-up.  Already many of the traditional relocation services are available online to some extent.  But, according to Mark, it will be the way in which the multinationals view compliance for online services that is the limiting factor.  “If the technology companies manage to deal with the compliance problem then online services could be very successful.  But there will still be people who prefer face-to-face services.  I do not think everything will be done online.” He gives the example of travel agents that have not completely disappeared despite excellent online services; or hotels, that can provide booking services online but they still need a building and beds for the night.  “In the same way, if you want to move you’ll still need a mover. And there will always be some people who want a branded team to arrive at their front door.”

After six months away, Mark is looking forward to getting back to interacting with the corporate accounts and the customers.  “This has been a way of life for me since the day I started.  It has never been difficult for me to get up and go to work. I adore what I do.  Interdean was my life: it was devastating when I had to leave.  So I am now really motivated to get back into the business and start living my life again the way I used to and make a contribution again.”  

In the 25 years since Mark took his first steps with Pickfords the industry has changed beyond recognition.  However, it could be argued that the rate of change has never been faster.  In the future the industry will need people who are on the cusp of technology: people who understand yesterday but embrace tomorrow.  People like Mark Muss for example. 

Photos: Top; Mark Muss on joining Packimpex recently, and middle, during his time at
Pickfords and Interdean, including getting pally with boss Victor Bondarenko.

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