Mary Ellen Sheets is the founder and chief executive officer of Two Men And A Truck located in Lansing, Mich.
While still in high school in the early 1980s, Mary Ellen's two sons Brig and Jon Sorber started a small moving business to earn extra spending money. They used an old pickup truck and advertised for business in a local newspaper with an ad that began, "Two Men and a Truck." She drew a logo for their business that is still used today.
After her sons left for college, Mary Ellen kept receiving calls for their services, so she purchased an old moving truck for $350 and hired two movers. The business grew steadily and Mary Ellen's entrepreneurial spirit became well known in the Lansing area. In 1988, when Mary Ellen was serving on a panel for Michigan State University's business school, she became interested in the opportunities franchising offered her business after speaking to a fellow panelist. Mary Ellen awarded the first franchise to her daughter, Melanie Bergeron, a year later.
By 1989 Mary Ellen had developed her sons' business into the first and only local moving franchise in the country. Today, there are more than 150 Two Men And A Truck locations in 27 states. Two Men And A Truck is the fifth largest moving company in the United States. Mary Ellen considers herself fortunate to have her daughter, Melanie Bergeron, as president and C.O.O. of Two Men And A Truck, and sons Brig and Jon Sorber, the original "two men," actively involved in franchise operations today.
Mary Ellen is amazed by her accomplishments. "When I look back, I can't believe this all happened," she says. "I am in shock and so grateful. I definitely think this is the American dream. We live in a wonderful country."
A key portion of Mary Ellen's business model is to give back to the community. Always active in local service projects, Two Men And A Truck 's commitment to the community began with Mary Ellen Sheets. At the end of her first year in business, Mary Ellen was ecstatic that she had made $1,000 and decided to donate the money, giving $100 to 10 different charities.
Additionally, Mary Ellen is a long-time supporter of many organizations, such as: Habitat for Humanity; the United Way of America; the YMCA; the Greater Lansing Food Bank; the Potter Park Zoo; the Michigan Vietnam Monument Organization; and the American Cancer Society.
Mary Ellen has been honored with many awards as the founder of Two Men And A Truck. Among them are the International Franchise Association's 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year Award-Mary Ellen was the first woman to receive this honor; 2004 Michigan Women's Foundation Women of Achievement and Courage Award; 2002 Athena Award; the 1999 Working Women's 500 Congress; Working Women's 1999 Best Employer Regional Finalist; 1998 Blue Chip Award; 1995 Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year Award; 1994 Top 25 Michigan Business Woman of the Year; and 1993 Lansing Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the Year. Two Men And A Truck has also been highlighted in several books, including: What's Luck Got to Do With It?; Start Small-Finish Big; Women Entrepreneurs Only; Glorious Accidents, and Millionaire Women.
Eager to encourage others to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, Mary Ellen has been a speaker on numerous occasions, including for Louisiana State University, Michigan State University, Wake Forest University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the Michigan Women's Attorney Association, to name a few. She has also presented an overview of Two Men And A Truck at the International Franchise Association's Franchisor Forum at McDonald's University. Mary Ellen has been featured in such publications as the Franchise Times, the National Enquirer, and was profiled on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
In addition to her position as founder and chief executive officer of Two Men And A Truck, Mary Ellen serves on the boards of the International Franchise Association; Michigan Chamber of Commerce; Michigan Freedom Foundation; M-LAW (Michigan Law Abuse Watch); Sparrow Hospital; and is a commissioner on the Michigan Truck Safety Commission.
Prior to starting Two Men And A Truck, Mary Ellen worked as a computer programmer and systems analyst for the State of Michigan for 20 years.
A native of Michigan, Mary Ellen attended Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich.