Cory Home Delivery Service has been through a lot of changes during its 70-plus years in business, but some things have remained consistent, and that's the company's commitment to customer service and its dedication to the people with whom it does business.

Patrick Cory, vp-marketing, says it's the good relationships his family made with clients and employees over the years that sustained the company during the worst of times — 1992-1997 — when it went into bankruptcy. Prior to that, the business had been growing steadily since 1934.

Cory says major growth came about as a result of the company's relationship with its biggest client, Seaman's furniture stores. In addition to providing home delivery service, Cory also set up a warehousing distribution center for Seaman's.

By the 1980s business had expanded to the point where the company was delivering more than 120 truckloads of furniture a day using a fleet of 130 Mercedes-Benz straight trucks.

“Our mistake at the time was having most of our eggs in one basket,” says Cory of his company's business relationship with the new owners of Seaman's Furniture. “Seaman's new owners, KKR, decided to take over its own home delivery and warehousing operations.

“In two years, business dropped from about $38 million to $10 million in annual sales. It was a costly lesson to learn, but when we emerged from bankruptcy we diversified our operations.”

Since ‘97, business has been growing 25% a year. The company delivers middle- to higher-end furniture and appliances. In addition to dedicated home delivery service, clients can also have Cory run their warehousing distribution operations.

Coming out of bankruptcy, one of the major changes Cory Home Delivery Service made to its operations was to switch from a company-owned fleet to independent contractors. “We realized we could not compete in the marketplace with employee drivers,” Cory explains. “To contract with Cory, independents must have excellent driving histories, and their vehicles must meet strict criteria.”

Highlights of the independent contractor agreement state that the vehicle:

  • Must be either a 24- or 26-ft. straight truck;

  • Cannot be more than 4 vehicle-years old;

  • Must be in full DOT compliance;

  • Must have a certain type of wood floor and wood flat to tie off furniture to without damaging pieces;

  • Must have a lift gate if it will be delivering appliances.

Cory will also provide insurance for a contractor and workman's comp if they want to purchase it through them. But either way, they're expected to meet the fleet's high insurance coverage requirements.”

The company is also very strict about accidents and other serious driving violations. “Backing accidents, for example, are inexcusable since every truck has a driver and at least one helper on board who's required to get out and help the driver every time he backs up,” Cory states. Last year the company reduced its accident rate by 54% through its Safety First program.

As the company has grown, one of its biggest challenges has been maintaining a company-wide “standard” of business practices. For example, furniture is never allowed to touch the ground; it's placed on customized dollies to protect it from getting damaged while being moved around the warehouse.

To keep practices uniform, Cory says everyone is taught to do things “The Cory Way.” “We've developed 22 core processes of home delivery, covering everything from handling, prepping and loading furniture onto trucks, to scheduling and confirming deliveries, and meeting and speaking with customers.”

With headquarters in Jersey City, NJ, Cory now operates in 18 states, including the entire east coast, Puerto Rico, the Midwest and more recently the state of Texas. Within the next three years, Cory says he anticipates revenues to reach the $100-million mark.