Wife Steps in to Help United Van Lines CEO on 'Undercover Boss' [Video]

undercover boss United Van LinesNo one gave United Van Lines CEO Rich McClure a hard time for having to bring his wife Sharon in to help him complete his 'Undercover Boss' duties. And even if they did, he wouldn't care -- once you've been married for 32 years, you're way past letting other people's comments affect you. Besides, he's used to having her call some of the shots: She was his boss when they first met.

Bringing the wife in was definitely an 'Undercover Boss' first, but McClure felt he had no choice -- he'd recently visited the agency where he was assigned to work, and feared they'd recognize him. In addition to that, he thought his long-time partner would have a unique perspective. After all, they moved five times in their first seven years of marriage, once when they had a toddler and a 6-week old baby.

"No matter who you are or where you are, there's a lot of stress involved in moving," McClure says. "One of the most important things I learned was how dedicated the workers are to making people's lives easier at a difficult time. They really care about meeting the many different needs the customers have."


A moving experience

On his first job, in Orlando, Fla., McClure found out just how difficult it is to meet those needs. He worked with Jimmy, a United van operator on a household move, which just about did him in. He struggled just to lift the fabric pads used to protect the furniture. He also had a hard time ripping the wrapping tape without too much physical exertion. So when it came time to actually move furniture -- well, let's just say McClure got one of the best workouts of his life.

Jimmy, however, hardly broke a sweat and shared with McClure that more than the physical strain, it was tough knowing that if he couldn't move a customer in the time and space the estimator had given, Jimmy would have to cover the difference out of his own pocket. And tougher still was being away from his wife and kids when he's on the road.

Once his identity was revealed, McClure attempted to help Jimmy by hastening the development of software that would better coordinate estimates with the mover. He also set up a video chat system for Jimmy so he can talk to his family when he's away, and in addition, McClure contributed $10,000 toward the education of Jimmy's three children.

In Baltimore, McClure worked at the Suddath United warehouse where they handle special, high-value products for large corporations. Together with Andrew, one of their youngest warehouse managers, he put shipments on pallets and lined them up for storage. Andrew didn't seem very interested in his job, took constant smoke breaks, and even disregarded his boss when he was asked to do a particular task. He also complained a lot.

Andrew knew that he'd be lucky to keep his job once he found out that McClure was the president of the company. McClure handled Andrew gently, but made it clear he was not pleased with Andrew's work habits. Instead of firing Andrew, McClure told him he was going to be checking up on him periodically. Andrew remained with the company, but had to be retrained.


Packing it in

McClure was much more impressed with Ronald and Ruth, the packing specialists he worked with in Stafford, Va. Originally from El Salvador, the married couple is "living the American dream," as one of United's best packing teams, and they took great pride and care with their work.

AOL Jobs Asks
Undercover Bosses Rich and Sharon McClure
5 Quick Questions

1. What was your first job?
Rich: Cleaning washing machines in my father's appliance dealership.

Sharon: Working for a dentist as an assistant while in school.

2. What inspires you?
Rich: Examples of people who serve effectively.

Sharon: People who serve others.

3. What is the most important trait needed to succeed?
Rich: Perseverance.

Sharon: Integrity and caring about people.

4. What is your biggest challenge? Rich: Being sensitive to relationships, whether they're with customers, team members, family or friends. Relationships are what make things happen.

Sharon: Loving unconditionally.

5. What is the best career advice you ever received?
Rich: Go to the best grad school you can get into.

Sharon: Explore every opportunity available and don't be afraid to make tough decisions.

But they weren't as impressed with McClure. His gregarious nature and efforts to bring out their personal stories earned him stern looks, and finally an admonition to be more professional and stop chatting so much. They gave him the nickname "Walkie Talkie," and it seemed to stick.

Still, they confided in him their hopes and dreams -- a trip to Italy for the two of them, and a promotion for Ronald to driver, and a truck to go with it. McClure hastened those dreams when all was said and done, by sending them on an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy, picking up the tab for driver training for Ronald, and contributing $5,000 toward the purchase of his own truck.


No complaints from the complaint department

It was job No. 4, in New Berlin, Wisc., where McClure needed to call in his wife Sharon for the proverbial heavy lifting. She was happy to step up to the plate, and impressed with Linda, the claims manager, who had been in the same position for 28 years. She seemed to have developed a sixth sense for figuring out when a customer is trying to take advantage of the system, and when a customer has a legitimate complaint.

Linda explained how she handles claims on everything from priceless antiques to a 50 cent can of Coke, and Sharon noted that she always went to great lengths to be fair. But Linda shared that she didn't think the company was fair -- that it was a "good old boys' club," without much opportunity for women to advance. She also noted that she never took vacations.

Once the cat was out of the bag, McClure reaffirmed his company's commitment to the advancement of women, and assured Linda that they'd be more cognizant of it in the future. He also gave the single mother $10,000 toward her daughter's wedding expenses, which were coming up in the near future.

Being fair is a matter of pride with United, according to McClure, as the moving industry constantly struggles with tight margins and fluctuating gas prices. There are fuel surcharges for times like these, but major corporate clients prefer not to pay them, which can make things a bit awkward. Still, the McClures wouldn't trade their moving experiences in the industry for anything--they're truly united on that front.

Next: Read more 'Undercover Boss' Interviews

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PATRICE

Wonder when the Walton kids will do this sort of thing.. Never hear walmart CEO's being remotely interested in how their company is falling apart?

January 30 2012 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Deanna

This particular episode was very bittersweet for me. My dad worked for United Van Lines for almost 45 years. He died on the job while he was delivering a Go Mini to a customer. He had dropped off the Go Mini and told the customer that he was going to the truck to get paperwork for her. He had a massive heart attack in his truck. He was two months shy of his 68th birthday. The agency he worked for was so wonderful to my family.

Watching this episode gave me a little bit of an idea of what he did. He used to be an over the road driver. He would talk about the packers he would hire to help him. I would hear him talk about loads and where we was going. This gave me a little insite. Of course, some of the changes in the company would have really helped my dad out back in the day.

My dad won awards for his service with United Van Lines. I know that he took a lot of pride in his work. I even found out that customers would make requests for my dad to move them. I don't know if Mr McClure was ever aware of my dad, but it was good to see other people there who take as much pride as he did.

May 02 2011 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ihateunitedvlmor

Vanliner may cover other Van Lines, but it is a subsidary of UniGroup. A warning for anyone who works for United Van Lines.

March 16 2011 at 12:30 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Chase

Im sorry to hear that. I had a guy we called the ambulance for because he hurt his back while carrying a light desk. He was out for a month and unigroup wrote him a check for loss wages and all he had to do was turn his medical bills into my agent and they were taken care of. Maybe its that particular agent I guess but its all the same insurance. IIm pretty sure van liner is not just united but allied,bekins,atlas, all the major van lines.

March 16 2011 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chase

Nobody is a disgruntled united employee. We all work for an agent affiliated with united and they are not all the same. We do follow united rules and standards but the individual agent is responsible for wages/promotions/benefits not united van lines. I am a contractor for suddath an agent of united van lines. I can personally tell you that we take pride in every move we do and do our best with every job. If something breaks or damage is done to a customers home or something is missing then I personally pay for that out of my pocket. Almost all united drivers are contractors are like me so it makes no sense to destroy peoples things. As for a salesmen setting impossible dates you sir have no idea what you are talking about. A salesman does not book a job for one driver in mind, they have to meet customers needs. As for delivery dates I am given a window to deliver and can choose whatever date I want to deliver as long as all my jobs on my trailer at that time are delivered in that window of time. As to the guy complaining about injury I had a guy get hurt while working for me and all of his medical and loss of wages were taken care of by unigroup. He was a cash worker that showed little income so he did not get a huge sum for loss wages but work comp goes by your taxes filed so that was his fault for not claiming what he actually makes not unigroups. Also again to defend Andrew on the show just him and I packed and loaded 22000 lbs ( a full tractor trailer load) in 2 days while he had a broken arm. I would take him any day over any cash guy I have ever picked up at any agent aand not one time had he ever made one rude comment to any customer on any move.

March 15 2011 at 11:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Chase's comment
ihateunitedvlmor

Again, I was not a cash lumper. I was on the clock. They covered my medical bills, and only part of my lost wages. They failed to cover my lost property, nor did I get anything for pain, suffering and nearly dying. Not counting the fact that the driver should not of been on the road in the first place. He could have taken out an innocent family or made my children go without a father. I am not going to get into how drivers abuse the lumper system, my beef is with S&M and UniGroup. They did me wrong in a bad way and I have a lot of anger. I was dedicated and good, they are corrupt and this recent story gives me a nice window to share my frustrations with the public. Instead of an apology from them, I get attacked right off the bat even though I was in the sleeper asleep. I was only with this rookie driver because he didn't know how to do inventory or load. I normally worked with another Company driver handling their many corporate accounts like Intel and Phelps Dodge. I think I deserve respect and an apology, let alone some compensation for what they did to me.

March 16 2011 at 12:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Chase

Andrew the worker from md worked for me for the past 2 years, I am a contractor like the guy jimmy. Andrew is ond of the hardest workes I have ever had the pleasure to work with. He caught a really bad wrap from the show. Andrew is a manager on SALLERY who works 10 hour days so who cares if he takes a few smoke breaks. He stood outside by himself and took 3 minute smoke breaks. Every office I have ever been to the women that smoke in that office huddle up and smoke together which takes much longer. Second of all the guy that asked Andrew to do something was called the "general manager" and he is not a gm. He is another wh manager like andrew and he is iin charge of the other side of the warehouse. Andrew responded to him " can you have Mo do it. Mo works under Andrew on Andrews side of the wh. If they were not shooting the show then Andrew would have received that phone call himself and had MO do it still. I do agree ssome things he said were not great but to his defense the show percie ed him that way. Also to the guy trying to sue for the accident that guy gets paid cash as a day labor and like most day labor ( not all) probably pays no taxes and works the govt system recording no income and is just looking for the next handout. Also my wife and I just laughed when jimmy the driver said he was once gone for 2 weeks and how hard it was lol. 2 weeks is a joke in this business.

March 15 2011 at 10:31 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Chase's comment
ihateunitedvlmor

If your referring to me about the accident, I was on the clock and with an S&M Moving Sytems driver. I wasn't with a line driver working for cash. If I was, I could sue the truck insurance, which would be much more successful. I had to go through VanLiner Insuance of UniGroup. United own corrupt Insurance. I had over 3 years with United Van Lines, working almost exclusively on the clock. Before S&M I worked for Allied, Bekins and North American. I had a bad lawyer and the most evil insurance company in the Country. If you work for United and if they injure you, be prepared to be thrown out with the trash and good luck getting anything from them. It just makes me sick thinking how disgusting these people are at UniGroup. They are Dick cheney evil.

March 15 2011 at 11:35 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ihateunitedvlmor

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act act."
-George Orwell

March 15 2011 at 3:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ccfinno

It amaze me how ignorant some people can be . United Van Lines clearly is in the fore front of providing honesty and a quality move. Responsible for almost 40% of all interstate moves you will see customers who are unhappy even though the success rate is the highest in the industry. As a salesmen I can honestly say we try our best to be accurate and explain all the varibles so an educated customer will understand the process. As my good friend Ed Odell told me when I started working for him and his partner John back in 1987. " Being drunk and under estimating is no way to go through life" I know the jealousy of our competitors will result in some of these responses. Fin

March 15 2011 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ccfinno's comment
ihateunitedvlmor

I have worked for United for years and I can tell you honesty is not one of their qualities. The fact that you are the biggest has nothing to do with being the best. You are the Wal-Mart of the moving industry. Growing by disrespecting your employees, unfair marketing, cheating on claims in place of customer service and quality help and monopolizing the industry. I am not your competition, nor is most people here speaking up. We are disgruntled ex-employees and customers who have had the dis-pleasure of working for United or doing business with them.

March 15 2011 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ccfinno

It amaze me how ignorant some people can be . United Van Lines clearly is in the fore front of providing honesty and a quality move. Responsible for almost 40% of all interstate moves you will see customers who are unhappy even though the success rate is the highest in the industry. As a salesmen I can honestly say we try our best to be accurate and explain all the varibles so an educated customer will understand the process. As my good friend Ed Odell told me when I started working for him and his partner John back in 1987. " Being drunk and under estimating is no way to go through life" I know the jealousy of our competitors will result in some of these responses. Fin

March 15 2011 at 12:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jjffryl

If bosses want to know they will find out without this show .they do the show for Pub.

March 15 2011 at 6:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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