Moving is rarely a pleasant experience. While it often signifies a brand-new adventure, it can be time-consuming and frustrating, and it requires a lot of patience. Now imagine you’ve lived in the same house, on the same street, in the same neighborhood for 40 years and the time has come to pack everything up and move on.
Gentle Transitions of Edina is a senior relocations and move managers business. They’re the local and national leaders in the senior moving industry, and the Star Tribune dubbed Gentle Transitions one of Minnesota’s Top 100 workplaces in 2014.
Nearly 12 years ago, Diane Bjorkman and her husband Bill Lehman purchased the company from founders Mercedes and Bernie Gunderson, Edina residents. While the company has taken off under Bjorkman and Lehman’s guidance, Bjorkman is quick to credit Mercedes Gunderson, who founded the company in 1990.
“It was her vision,” Bjorkman says. “She had moved her mom four times in seven years, and she thought there had to be an easier way to do it.”
There was no looking back. Gentle Transitions now boasts a plethora of clients from all over the United States. Last year alone, they moved 850 seniors.
“You have to be the right kind of person to do this, to handle it with grace and dignity” says client Lisa Miller. “They have a gift; it’s a fabulous business.” Gentle Transitions moved Miller’s in-laws to Minneapolis from their home of 40 years in Oklahoma. Though her in-laws were hesitant to move, and to have assistance, Miller reports that everything went smoothly, and that her in-laws raved about Gentle Transitions.
When Gentle Transitions is hired, clients are assigned a move manager, someone who leads the way throughout: cleaning, packing, moving and unpacking in its entirety. Clients are contacted by their assigned move manager within one day of hiring to chat about the situation and get the story. “Every situation is different,” says Bjorkman.
Move managers work with floor plans of each client’s new space to help them best figure which of their belongings will and will not make the move. “That’s the most glaring stumbling block when making a transition. They’ve accumulated so much and they don’t know where to start,” Bjorkman says. “People often need their hand held during this process.”
The vast majority of Gentle Transitions clients leave their homes to move into independent living, condominiums, senior co-ops or assisted/memory-care environments. There is no average age, though, as Gentle Transitions has moved clients as young as 26 years old, and is happy to help clients at any stage of life.
Marlene Grassl of Edina downsized from a twinhome to the Waters of Edina, a senior living community. “It was heartbreaking to go. It was a very stressful time, but it was helpful that I didn’t have to do it [all],” Grassl says of the move. Grassl has high praise for her Gentle Transitions move manager, Karen: “She was a sweetheart; she really helped me a lot.”
And what Grassl thought might have taken her months to do was complete in just over a day. The cupboards in her new place were stocked, the drawers were filled and her pictures were hung. And Grassl’s new home was just that, her home. “I was so happy; everything was done, everything was perfect,” Grassl says.
“It’s an important feature; we settle them,” Bjorkman says.
7346 Ohms Lane