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Living Large

By on January 1, 2019

On the Road with Mike Morrissey

When you’re on the road traveling coast to coast for four to six weeks at a time, taking the comforts of home with you is nearly impossible. With his third big bunk ARI Legacy Sleeper on a Volvo chassis, Mike Morrissey has come mighty close to doing exactly that, even enjoying some amenities he doesn’t have at his Riverview, Florida home. An owner-operator for most of his 35 years in the household moving goods industry, Mike truly enjoys his relationships with United Van Lines, agent Suddath Relocation Systems headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida and the many customers he’s served over the years.

Mike unknowingly started along his career path in 1983, when he took a summer job after graduating from high school as a mover’s helper for a hometown United agent in Kansas City, Missouri. He went to college that fall, while continuing to work on weekends. After one year of college, he chose to sit out the next year to work fulltime and save some money. Then fate intervened. An owner-operator friend who had purchased a new Kenworth Aerodyne hurt his back and had disk surgery. He asked Mike if he would like to drive the truck. He did and took over the truck payments for six months. Long story short, he saved $50,000 and bought his own truck when the friend was able to resume working.

After owning other brands, Mike bought his first Volvo in 1999 and upgraded to another in 2007, this time adding his first ARI Legacy sleeper. At 144 inches, the rear-door configuration gave him an entirely new perspective on how much more comfortable life on the road could be with a big bunk sleeper. When he opted for some new technology, a very similar Legacy sleeper on a 2016 Volvo chassis with a 302-inch wheelbase was purchased. Last year, wishing to take his home on the road to another level, Mike opted for a 180-inch ARI Legacy II sleeper on a 2019 Volvo chassis with a 329-inch wheelbase. That’s a really big big bunk sleeper on a really long chassis, or if you prefer, a really large large car.

Several Steps Up

Wishing to go larger with the 2019 floor plan, including several configuration and amenity upgrades, Mike chose a side-entry door and a fairly rare rear-kitchen floorplan. Everything else flowed from those two decisions. The first step was securing a properly sized Volvo chassis, no easy task in 2018’s tight market characterized by long lead times. Mike had the good fortune to be working with Rex Raasch at the GATR Truck Center in Des Moines, Iowa. GATR is the only Volvo truck dealer in the United States that also represents ARI’s full range of custom sleepers. Raasch has outstanding experience specing trucks for the moving industry and other long-haul operators. He knows how to maintain the structural integrity of the frame rails and where to insert cross members, so they don’t interfere with the sleeper mounting process at the ARI headquarters in Shipshewana, Indiana.

“Taking the 180-inch ARI Legacy II sleeper with me everywhere my household moving adventures take me has been a real blessing.”
–Mike Morrissey

Mike has had very good experience with his Volvo tractors. That’s why he purchased a fourth. The 2019 model rides better, is smoother and quieter, has a shorter turning radius and is a nicer truck overall than the first three. An upgraded electronics package, including lots of pushbutton commands on the steering wheel, have made his seat time more enjoyable, less stressful and has provided an added measure of safety. To him, it feels more like driving his personal car.

Mike worked with ARI sales manager John Miller, an industry veteran, throughout the Legacy II sleeper design and specing process. With the aid of computerized drawings and lots of PDF file exchanges, Mike and John worked their way through a very thorough design process prior to the two-month build. That gave Mike time to find a suitable buyer for his 2016 Volvo. With all of their big bunk sleeper experience coming into play, John and Mike worked closely throughout the decision-making process. As the photographs show, the finished Legacy II interior closely resembles an upscale Class A motorcoach.

On the Road to Success

“Taking the 180-inch ARI Legacy II sleeper with me everywhere my household moving adventures take me has  been a real blessing,” said Mike. “As an early riser, I like to log my 11 hours of driving as quickly as possible, so I can be off the road about 5:00 p.m. Whether I’m cooking dinner or eating leftovers prepared earlier in the week, I usually have plenty of time to relax, enjoy some TV shows or maybe hang out with other United drivers when overnighting at an agent’s yard. When the weather is good, I love to grill outside and watch TV under the rolldown side canopy. It’s a great place to congregate and socialize.

“It takes a special mindset to be successful in the household moving business. A strong customer service focus and excellent communications skills are very helpful. I credit many excellent mentors and supervisors along the way, including BB Flynn, the current GM of Suddath’s Orlando operation. They’ve helped me understand that customers are entrusting you with their most valued possessions, and you must demonstrate that you understand and share their concerns as if you were handling your own valuables.

“Many times, everything a customer owns is in your truck, including irreplaceable items having great sentimental value. Being goal oriented, doing a great job, taking on challenging logistics and pleasing people are keys to being a successful mover. That’s how I’m wired. There’s nothing more rewarding than having a prior customer call or request you for a new move, invite you to spend the night in a guest bedroom or even ask you to stay for dinner.”

For 11 months out of the year, Mike maintains a busy coast-to-coast schedule that includes Florida, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, New England, New York and Connecticut. The month of November is devoted to vacations, celebrating family Thanksgivings, fishing and relaxing. His December schedule typically establishes a very busy pattern that carries him into the new year with considerable momentum. During 2018, Mike was named United Van Lines Household Goods Van Operator of the Year for the East Region. It’s a significant honor to be selected as the best among 2,500 others. The award takes many factors into account and can only be won once every five years. Mike has also won a parallel Suddath award five times and has been runner-up another five times.

Living large in relative comfort keeps Mike focused and motivated. He plans to continue being a professional mover based on his ongoing interest in meeting new people, seeing old friends and taking care of customers.

Mike’s Customization

  • Beds: pull-down lower, HappiJac® upper
  • An 11.9 cu. ft. refrigerator
  • A fully equipped kitchen with plenty of counter space
  • Solid-surface countertops
  • Good-sized microwave
  • An induction cooktop
  • LED light fixtures and accent lights
  • Dark Knight interior décor package
  • Barnwood vinyl flooring
  • A generous toilet space
  • Spacious walk-in shower
  • A Webasto diesel heater
  • A 15,000 BTU rooftop A/C & heater unit
  • Spray-foam insulation
  • Two water tanks
  • Latest technology for the connected world
  • Wardrobe closets
  • Lots of storage, both inside and outside
  • Full-length side skirts with pull-up, bus-style access doors
  • An RV-style electric rollup awning
  • A space under the awning for the latest 4K smart TV
  • Storage for a Green Mountain Davy Crockett pellet grill
  • An Onan 7,500-watt diesel generator

Living-Large-Interior1 Living-Large-Interior2

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