Moving across the country is complicated. There’s a home to pack up and maybe sell, a new home to find, furniture to transport, cars to deal with and the list goes on.
Multiplying those steps by a couple of hundred people and add on truckloads of fitness and medical equipment, a corporate headquarters’ worth of computers and other tech gear provides a rough outline of what goes into relocating an entire professional football franchise.
Something that complicated might sound like a nightmare. For CEO Chris Dingman and the staff at his Denver-based company the Dingman Group it’s just another day at the office. They helped move the Chargers to Los Angeles and the Raiders to Las Vegas.
“We’re no different than a contractor,” Dingman said. “If you build a house, you bring in a general contractor. They hire roofers, electricians.”
The difference is Dingman and his team of 10, operating out of a trio of offices in Cherry Creek’s Civica building, have a list of proven real estate brokers in major markets, movers, vehicle transporters and others vendors in their digital Rolodexes.
“The corporate world has had relocation management companies in place for years and years and years,” Dingman said. “We’re that but we didn’t want to sell and play in the corporate space. I wanted to play in my space that I had a big passion for and that is the sports world.”
It was a slow build for Dingman. When he formed the businesses almost 15 years ago — shortly after being laid off from his job with Taco Bell corporate — he was routinely denied at the rim when pitching athletes, coaches, teams and their advisers on what he could do. He collected unemployment for parts of two years and sold two cars to pay his rent in those early days.
One of his first big breaks was working with Steve Smith, the then Carolina Panthers’ star wide receiver who overlapped with Dingman during his college football career at Santa Monica College. Dingman called his former coach at the school to connect with Smith shortly after Smith signed a new contract. The job: Help Smith buy a new house for his mom.
“It had always been a dream of his to relocate out his mom out of the environment that he grew up in,” Dingman said. “It was very special.”
Flash forward a dozen years and today the Dingman Group is routinely processing checks with the logos of pro sports franchises like the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Browns on them.
The company’s growth jumped into hyperdrive shortly after Dingman moved the business from his home state of California to the more centrally located and less tax-heavy confines of Colorado in 2016.
Dingman was already talking to the Chargers about helping with the logistics of their move at that time but officially landed that deal shortly after arriving in Denver. Since 2017, revenue has grown by 2,300%, he said. The business processes over 1,000 individual relocation services a year with “special projects” such as the NFL moves and helping Major League Soccer expand into new markets driving a good chunk of that.
The key, Dingman said, is focusing on service, not the star power of the clients.
The Dingman Group builds its margin into quotes. It’s able to keep its prices competitive compared to simply going directly to the service providers because it has established relationships with vendors and has volume-based buying power, Dingman said. Beyond that though, those relationships allowed Dingman to offer his customers an added layer of quality control. When something goes wrong with a move as it sometimes does, the client can relax: Dingman and his team will handle it.
When Denver Nuggets assistant coach Jordi Fernández was hired in 2016, the team connected him with the Dingman Group to facilitate he and his now wife’s move from Cleveland. Not only did the company handle arrangements for the couple’s furniture and cars, Dingman personally picked up Fernández at his hotel and drove him around the city, helping him find a house in Washington Park where the couple lived for three years.
“In our business, getting a service that is very well done and you don’t have to think about it is really important, and he’s really on point with all that,” Fernández said. “We became really good friends from there and he actually ended up coming to our wedding in Spain.”
Sometimes a unique client base comes with some unique needs. Dingman mentioned knowing who to call when a chandelier needs to be packed and shipped across the country. For senior relocation consultant Tony Carollo, taking care of sneaker collections has emerged as an important piece of the puzzle. When vintage Air Jordans can be valued in the thousands, special care is required.
“Some of these guys have full walls of sneakers,” Carollo said.
Carollo joined the Dingman Group after working with a high-volume corporate relocation firm. The sports world offered him a new challenge. On Monday, he was keeping an eye on more than 100 active accounts.
“There’s a lot of growth and a lot of opportunity,” Carollo said. “I had lost a bit of that excitement on the corporate side.”
Dingman is thinking about his company’s next phase, something he calls Dingman Group 3.0.
For one, the COVID-19 pandemic led the company to build touchless online platforms and portals for generating bids and interacting with the customers, conveniences that Dingman expects to drive new business.
Through the relationships it built during its relocations, the Dingman Group is now providing gameday trucking and logistics for the Chargers, Raiders and most of their opponents. That means picking up and delivering helmets, jerseys and other gear to SoFi and Allegiant stadiums. It’s a service Dingman is eager to expand in other markets.
The CEO sees a lot of potential with major college athletic departments. Not only do schools have multiple sports with coaching staffs, but they also have athletic directors, trainers and more. Having worked with athletes that are alumni of many of the nation’s top sports schools, Dingman said he is getting some traction already.
“We just have a lot of places where we can make inroads fast,” he said.
The most aspirational goal is to break into development. Dingman has always had a passion for real estate and he’s setting his sights on developing potentially two to three projects over the next three years.
“We’re thinking mixed-use residential, potentially in partnership with some of our customers,” he said. “Getting us to a point where we own the asset,” that an athlete or team office might move into it.
There is plenty to keep the Dingman Group busy in the short term. The Major League Baseball trade deadline is July 30. Who knows who will need their Lamborghini loaded onto a flatbed by then.
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