International Removal Men of Mystery: Abels

The world is becoming a smaller and smaller place as the opportunity for people and businesses to relocate around the globe rises exponentially.

It’s easy to take for granted the “global village” we inhabit today. But what makes this possible is, in no small way, the tireless work of international removals companies shipping homes, offices, antique collections – you name it! – all around the world.

Today we talk to Neil Pertoldi, International General Manager at Abels Moving Services Ltd, to learn more about the life and times of an international mover.

From 36-ft totem poles and the road-less Indonesian jungle to staff barbecues and customer service, Neil shares his experiences of an industry that can rightly be seen as an integral cog of the global economy – but which is given a bad reputation by a small minority of “cowboy” practitioners.

Where does the name Abels come from?  

The company was founded by the Abel family and so named.

How many years have you been around?  

The removals company has been operating since 1958.

What have you learnt along the way?  

That’s a challenging question as, just in life, we are constantly learning, but our culture has always been to offer a quality service and provide what we promised.  However, with an ever-changing rule book from government, agents and customs officials all around the world, and of course a diverse customer base, we have to evolve and adapt the service provision all the time.  I.e. We used to need to clear goods into most of Europe prior to the EU agreement, it looks likely we will be heading back to those days once again!

How do you train your staff?  

We bring all our new recruits into the business for a week of practical and classroom training.  They hone their skills on our possessions, not on our customers.  Every year crews return to our own training school for refresher training. We’ve recognised the need for apprenticeships since the late 70’s up until the current day. All employees regularly attend off site team building events to bring all departments closer.


What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever moved?  

From a 36ft totem pole, Concord engines / landing gear and cabin parts, armour-plated cars, Spitfire, Messerschmitt and Hurricane WWII planes, 4000-bottle wine collections, ornamental half-ton elephants, cows etc, Philips Radio Communications – 360,000 components, 25 suppliers, 981 radio transmissions stations to be received, collated, customs cleared, packed and shipped to in-forestry locations throughout Indonesia where there was no road access. The list is endless. 

Do you have any accreditations that you’re particularly proud of? 

We’ve held the Queens Royal Warrant for Removals & Storage Services since 1988, the 1st removal company to do so.   FIDI-FAIM-Plus, 1st removal company to gain Investors in People, ISO 9001 Quality Management / 14001 Environmental Standard / 18001 Health & Safety Management.

What kind of events / celebrations / awards do you do in-house for your staff?  

Christmas party, monthly summer BBQs, crew breakfast mornings, employee of the month and year, best idea prizes, long-service awards

How has buzzsurvey helped your business?  

It’s given another club in the bag to fulfil our customers’ needs.  

What service do you offer that most people aren’t aware of but is very beneficial?  

You’ll be surprised to hear that many customers are surprised that we can provide storage services. With many customers needing to move out of their home prior to moving into a new property, this is a vital service.

Do you do anything for the environment?  

All our cartons are made from recycled card, used packing materials are sent for recycling, printer toners are recycled, unwanted furniture from customers is collected and donated to charities that can then sell it to help sustain their efforts, our removals trucks are on a renewal program to bring them into Euro 6 (the cleanest diesel engine available), all vehicles are well maintained to ensure they comply with omissions standards, lighting through our offices and warehouses has been upgraded, office products are recycled. By achieving ISO 14001 it has made us revisit all we do in this area of our business.

What’s the most common error people make when moving abroad?  

Often leaving the contact with a moving company to the last moment and not budgeting into their home move. Which can easily add to the stress of moving.

Why should anyone choose Abels over another international removal company?  

We would not wish to be disparaging about any other mover.  We know just how hard we all work in an industry that is sadly unregulated and without real barriers to entry, leading to “cowboys” giving the majority of professional companies a bad reputation.  With Abels, the small parts make up the larger picture from: full-time employed (not subcontracted) crews, the training regime, the historical culture of workmanship to do the job right from the start, modern purpose-built air-ride vehicles that are reliable and transport possessions safely and carefully, experienced office support staff throughout the journey, a low claims ratio, a worldwide network of like-minded entrepreneurial partner companies audited to the same standard, high-strength packing materials, main-vessel-operating shipping lines (not the NVOCCs that offer cheap but unreliable shipping times and poor-quality containers that often leak, smell and are dirty).  We remain small enough to care but certainly large enough to cope, in the best traditions of a family-owned business which has been audited and assessed for decades by outside bodies, ensuring our standards remain the highest.

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