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AIM: an alternative trade association

Apr 25, 2018
It is now four years since the Alliance of Independent Movers (AIM) was formed. Deputy Editor David Jordan travelled to Twickenham to meet its founder Scott Rust to see how the organisation, now renamed the Association of Independent Movers, was progressing.

I met Scott at his moving company’s HQ on an industrial estate in Twickenham, a stone’s throw from the famous stadium much revered by fans of the oval ball as the home of England rugby.

Scott has been in the moving business for most of his working life and is managing director of Central Moves Ltd, the company he took over in 1997. I asked him why, as someone busy running a successful moving company, he’d decided to start a trade association.

“As a removals man I’ve always believed in being a member of a trade association. They give support to their members, reassure customers, and help maintain standards in the industry. We’ve been members of the BAR for many years and it’s a great organisation, but the entry requirements are very demanding, and I wanted to create an alternative that smaller companies could join and benefit from.”

Scott launched AIM at the 2014 Movers & Storers Show and was very encouraged by the response. “We had a very positive reaction from people who came on the stand and several companies actually joined at the show. It was a very encouraging start,” said Scott.

AIM initially offered three levels of membership, Apprentice, Main Level, and Full, to cater for companies at different stages of their development. “We soon realised that was a mistake,” said Scott. “People just wanted to be members, so we now have a single tier of membership for everyone.”

To be considered for membership candidates must be able to demonstrate a number of requirements, including that they are adequately insured, have no outstanding County Court Judgements against them, use properly trained, uniformed staff and use suitable equipment and vehicles to carry out removals in a professional manner.

“One of our aims is to raise standards in the industry, so if a company falls short of our criteria in a particular area we’ll help them to reach the standards we require, for example by arranging training for their staff or helping them with administration and procedures,” said Scott.

Members pay an initial inspection fee plus an annual subscription and are audited every year to check that standards are being maintained. In return they are entitled to use the AIM logo and enjoy benefits such as leads generated from the Association’s website, branded packaging at very competitive prices and, most importantly, the help and support of other AIM members throughout the UK. Anyone wishing to leave the Association may do so at any time and without fear of penalties.

“Recently I had a call from a member who needed to make a shipment to the USA and had no idea how to go about it,” said Scott. “That’s something we do all the time, so it was easy to give him the advice and help he needed to secure the job, which he otherwise would have lost.”

This year marks a significant change to the management structure of AIM with the appointment of a Board of Directors: Gordon Rafferty, Robert Beatty, Gaby Gomes, Terry Cox and Graham Puddephatt (secretary), will join Scott in steering the Association through the next phase of its development. Each director will serve for a maximum of two years with subsequent Board members elected by the membership at the AGM. All directorships are unpaid, which reflects the altruistic culture of the Association.

“AIM is a not for profit organisation,” said Scott. “All the funds we generate through our subscriptions will be used for the benefit of our members, not to line the pockets of the directors. I’m very grateful to everyone who has stepped forward to freely offer their time and expertise and I hope others will do the same in the future.”

One of the challenges facing the new Board will be to raise the profile of AIM, both within the trade and in the public domain. “We want to create a brand that the public will recognise and trust, which I know won’t be easy,” said Scott. “We also want to encourage more of the larger moving companies to join us and we would especially welcome more BAR members to come on board.”

On a wider front, AIM will be keeping a close eye on new regulations affecting the moving industry, such as the expansion of Clean Air Zones, the imminent introduction of GDPR and the ever-increasing task of maintaining Health & Safety compliance. “The world of business throws up more and more challenges every day. We’ll be doing all we can to make sure our members don’t have to face them alone,” said Scott.

Photo: Scott Rust.

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