Congratulations to MI-BOX Northern Virginia for being a finalist this year for the 25th Anniversary of the Loudoun Small Business Awards! View the full list of finalists here. These awards will be held on November 8, 2019 at The National Conference Center. Register Here!
MI-BOX Northern Virginia is up for Main Street Business of the Year. Post submitted by Michael Brophy, co-owner of MI-BOX NoVa
1. Tell us your story of how your business evolved into what it is today.
I own and operate MI-BOX with my parents Jane and Tom and my two brothers Chris and Michael. We were all looking for a way to go into business together, and we chose mobile storage because we had moved as a family several times and knew the stress and headaches first hand. We wanted to make the experience of moving easier for people.
Michael and I were already living in Virginia, but Chris moved from Boston and my parents moved from San Francisco to start this business. We chose Northern Virginia because we had some roots here, we saw a lot of potential in this market, and it is a community in which we all wanted to live and work.
We started MI-BOX in the summer of 2018, just over one year ago. With the help of other business leaders in the Loudoun community we’ve grown faster than we could have imagined. We are proud of what we have built so far but still have a big ambitions.
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
Over the past year, we have spent an enormous amount of time with chamber members and we are grateful for all of the help we have received. To be recognized by our peers would mean that not only have we received help from other members, but also that we have helped others along the way.
3. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
When we first started MI-BOX, we were—like most new businesses—a little lost and struggling to find our place within the business community. Several members of the chamber offered to help without expecting anything in return. Whether it was making a recommendation on a networking group to check out or making a helpful introduction, those small acts of generosity were what gave us traction to start building our business.
Now that we are more established, we try to pay-it-forward by helping new members of the business community in the same way. Even when someone has nothing to give you in return, it is always worth it to help in whatever way you can.
4. Who is the one person that has influenced your the most in your career?
My dad and one of my business partners, Tom Brophy, has taught me a lot over the years and pushed me beyond my comfort zone my whole life. He is the one who formed the plan for MI-BOX, rallied our family together to join the company, and encouraged us to take the leap of faith. The past year has been a challenging one, but his unending optimism and leadership has been one of the few constants in our family and in our business. Without him there would be no MI-BOX.
5. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?
Despite being one of the fastest growing counties in the nation, Loudoun still has a small town feel. Business owners and community leaders are highly visible and readily available to connect and build long-term relationships. There is a great feeling of community.
6. How do you see your business evolving in the next 10 years?/ future goals
We want to be the top storage provider in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and we would like to expand to other metropolitan areas in the Mid-Atlantic (and maybe beyond!). We started MI-BOX one year ago and focused on Loudoun because it is a growing and thriving community. We want to take what we have learned in Loudoun and replicate our success elsewhere.
We also want to help the mobile storage industry as a whole grow and gain prominence. Storage is a huge industry (there are more storage units in the US than McDonalds and Starbucks combined), but most people think of those creepy old self-storage units when they need a place to put their stuff. Mobile storage is an affordable and more convenient alternative, and we want more people to have that option top-of-mind when they’re thinking of where to put their stuff.
7. If you’re not in the office where can we find you/what is another passion you have?
My biggest passion outside of work is sports, both as a fan and as a participant. I am rooting hard for the Nationals this post-season and enjoying their deep run!
8. What was a childhood dream that you had?
Short of being a professional athlete, my biggest dream has always been to be a business owner and to have the freedom to set my own priorities. School was never a passion of mine because I never felt happy staying between the lines and doing what I’m told to do.
When working as an employee, I always found that the more freedom I was granted to control my work, the better I perform. Operating our own company affords me that ultimate freedom, and even though we have a long way to go, I feel like I’m already living the dream.
9. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
My favorite thing to do is enjoy the outdoors. Given a day alone with no obligations, I’d probably pop my headphones in and hop on my bike for a long ride, or I would go for a hike with my dogs.
10. What is one book that you would recommend everyone read?
I’m fascinated by both history as well as the future. Home Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Hariri offers a gripping look into the future of our planet and society, informed by his background as a historian.