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A-1 aims to 'remove' hunger

From left, Amanda Pooler, Jim Moore, Bill Szewcik, John Nye and Chris Nye all help in moving food at A-1 Movers in Superior on Wednesday afternoon for the "Remove Hunger from the Northland" food drive. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

John Nye can't pass a red Salvation Army bucket without dropping in some change. This year, however, the Superior businessman is rolling in the big trucks. A-1 Movers, which he owns with his wife Betsy, is holding a three-week food drive for Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank and the Salvation Army of Superior. Their goal is to "Remove Hunger from the Northland."

"Our feeling is the community has been very good to myself, my family, my business forever," Nye said. The food drive is a way for the moving company, which started 29 years ago, to give back.

"It's a good time and it's good fun and it's needed," Nye said. "I can't emphasize enough if this helps someone get through any time of the year, let alone the holiday time ... I hope everybody gets enough to eat."

The food drive caps off a banner year for A-1 Movers. The company, which employs 17, earned its first Milton M. Hill Quality Award in November. Less than 10 percent of the estimated 700 Atlas agents nationwide earn this top award, based on a host of criteria that include high warehouse ratings, low claims and top-notch customer service. Two A-1 Movers drivers also earned customer service awards this year.

Everyone at A-1 strives to give quality service, Nye said.

"A good job might be noticed, might not be," he said. "But a bad word travels."

This attention to detail has made A-1 the top choice for the University of Wisconsin-Superior, among other businesses and agencies.

"Any moving needs the university can't handle, A-1 Movers has been our first call," said Tom Fennessey, director of facilities management for UWS. They have great customer service, he said, plus the expertise and equipment to tackle both the big and unique jobs.

"Especially pianos," Fennessey said. "They've moved a lot of pianos for us."

This month, their focus is on moving food.

Nye dedicated his December advertising budget to the food drive and contacted vendors he regularly works with. Many pledged cash, giving them a solid base to start from.

"I thought 'OK, this is going to be a success if I get a can of beans or not,'" he said. Last Friday and Saturday, three A-1 trucks parked beside the Super One Foods store on Oakes Avenue in Superior, Cub Foods in Duluth and the Super One Foods store on Burning Tree Road in Duluth. Donations began to pour in -- jars of peanut butter, bags of rice, packs of diapers and toothbrushes. One person even tucked in a fluffy white teddy bear. Some gave cash instead. One man made a big impression on Nye. He walked up and asked if it would be OK for him to give a dollar.

"I don't think he had the second dollar to rub together, to be honest," Nye said. "He was there and he wanted to put something in there." Nye figures they're one third of the way toward their goal -- a truck packed full of food. The trucks will be parked at the sites again from 4:30-8:30 p.m. Friday and Dec. 21, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 22. Bins for donations are available daily at all the Super One stores, Cub Foods and Superior Meats.

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