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Image of Indianapolis Franchise Partner Walter Sawyer with Indianapolis cityscape in the background

From Construction Worker to Running his Own Business: How Walter Sawyer Became Franchise Partner at 24

Gabriela Esquivel
Indianapolis Franchise Partner Walter Sawyer talks going through tough times, hard work, leaning on your teammates, and what it takes to run your own business at 24.

YMM: How did you start working in the moving industry?

Walter Sawyer: I was working in construction and - while on the job - I ruptured a hernia and had to receive emergency surgery. I was on workers’ [compensation] for 8 weeks, after which I came back to work. Unfortunately, I was fired 3 days later, although I really liked the job! I needed a bit of money and my brother, who had previously worked at You Move Me Kansas City, brought me on. Soon after joining, I became Crew Lead. That's when I realized I was good at this and I loved helping people. Not long after that first promotion, I was promoted again to Senior Crew Lead and soon after that I became the Lead Trainer.

I started in February 2018 as a Crew Member, a week and a half later I became Crew Lead, and I just kept on moving up. I'm a hard worker!

What motivated you to continue your journey at You Move Me? 

Walter Sawyer: For a lot of companies you are just a number - they give you a uniform and tell you to do stuff. At You Move Me, it's like a family - there's always someone to talk to you if you have something on your mind. [General Manager] Jason Terkelson had a huge part in my success, he coached me a lot. Marlon Williams helped me significantly during my time in Kansas City and he's part of the reason why I'm successful right now. Essentially, the development I saw in myself during my time there made me stay and inspired me to keep on grinding and keep improving, both in my personal life and work life. At You Move Me, they invest in you and your development.

Franchise Partner Walter Sawyer (right) poses along with Cincinnati Partner Marlon Williams (left) with You Move Me Kansas City team.

YMM: You mentioned Marlon Williams is a big part of your success - tell us a little more about that

Walter Sawyer: Marlon and I have a special relationship. I didn't grow up in the best area or have the best life. I grew up in Wyandotte county in Kansas City, Kansas. This area does not have  the best neighborhoods - a little rough around the edges. I had a lot of things happening outside of work that had a weight on me and caused me stress in my personal life and at work. There were times when I'd show up upset, and he always listened to me and let me voice my issues. Sometimes, I was tired or wanted to quit. Marlon was always there to talk me through what I was going through. He is a great listener and lets me voice my issues and that is what I needed to reach my success.

YMM: How did the opportunity to move to Indianapolis to run your own location come about?

Walter Sawyer: I got sent out to Cincinnati with Marlon [Williams] thanks to my advancement in training and people development. I love teaching people what I know: great leaders create great leaders. I love seeing people develop from crew to driver to senior crew. One day I told Coach [Jeff] Sims: “I got this [new trainee] guy and I am going to have him move up to Crew Lead in about a week.” That trainee was Nanumi [Lolohea].

Nanumi [Lolohea] had told Sims how great of a leader I was. So Coach [Sims] came up to me and said: “Marlon needs some help in Cincinnati, would you like to go and help him up as Operations Manager?”

Four days later, I loaded everything I owned into my car and headed to Cincinnati - and it was the best thing I ever did. The moment I was about to drive off to Cincinnati I told my mama: “I love you. I’ll see you later” and I hit the road. As I was saying goodbye, I realized the long drive to Cincinnati will be pretty stressful, and just then as I was leaving I saw my mom through the rear view mirror and saw that she was crying, so I turned back around and gave her a hug for another 5 minutes.

Franchise Partner Walter Sawyer and his mother, Angela

YMM: Soon after moving to Cincinnati, you moved once again for the chance to run your own location, this time in Indianapolis . How difficult was it to move once again?

Walter Sawyer: We were just starting to get comfortable in Cincy - we had been there for about 8 months or so, getting familiar with the area. Coach Sims asked me: “how do you feel about running Indianapolis? Do you think you can do what Marlon can do?” I thought to myself, Marlon spent all this time teaching me all he knows, so I better know how to do what he can do! Coach Sims told me about Indianapolis on New Year’s, and I instantly jumped on the opportunity. I was ready for the challenges and knew nothing but greatness would come from there.

What have you learned from your moves in the last 11 months?

Walter Sawyer: Opportunity only knocks once. Not everybody gets these opportunities or the chance to fulfill them, but the only one way to find out if you can be successful is to take them. I have learned to stay determined and honest with myself and this opportunity will bring on success.

What is the most unexpected thing you’ve learned about running your own business?

Walter Sawyer: To be honest, the most interesting thing I deal with here are the expressions I get when I go to onsites [in-person estimates] due to how young I am. I am only 24 years old, so when they find out I am the Franchise Partner they're just astounded. The customers kind of cherish the fact that I'm doing something for myself and it's heartwarming how even a complete stranger can be so happy for your success. Other people also may assume I'm too young to know what I'm doing, but as soon as I put a smile on my face and tell them how I can do this, they're pleasantly surprised that I know what I am doing. I got a bit of knowledge under my belt even though I'm just 24!

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Walter Sawyer: I plan on having multiple locations. I also hope to be situated and have a family of my own. I'm actually single right now! [laughs]. However it’d be nice to settle down and get a bit of comfort, as opposed to having roommates you work with [laughs]. I want to keep striving for greatness, keep producing amazing teammates, create new opportunities for my guys and show everybody that the dream is real - we can achieve these things. I'm a prime example of this. I want to show people that it's actually possible, that everything Josh [Herron], Tyler [Staszack] and Coach [Sims] say is true and all you have to do is take them up on their word!

From left: Franchise Partner Walter Sawyer and his siblings Angela, Josh and Jacob.

Part of my dream is to be able to take care of my mom so she’ll never have to work again. My mom is a single mother of 4 kids, one daughter and three boys. She did incredible at raising all of us and never giving up on us. You see - I'm the baby of the family, and I want her to be able to spend time with all her grandkids and live somewhere stress-free with no real worries!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Walter Sawyer: I’d probably tell myself don't worry about anybody else's opinions. A lot of people in the world would knock you down for your accomplishments, show fake love and there's no point in trying to impress those people. Stay focused and determined in what you're doing. If you don't stay focused and put in the work, you won't achieve what you are striving for. Have integrity, do everything that you can to be successful and make sure you stay on the right track.

What advice would you give to other young people looking to grow in their careers?

Walter Sawyer: As a young human being you're like a sponge, and everyone has a bit of knowledge you can absorb, if you listen. This is why you should always listen more than speaking, because everyone has at least a bit of information that you don't have. Keep your ears open, absorb that information, and put those tools on your work belt. Stay determined and when the opportunity does come, take it! Don't doubt yourself, just take it and focus on your end goal. All the small accomplishments will always lead to huge opportunities in life, and that will lead you to success and greatness.

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