After layoffs and office closures, moving company WayForth files for bankruptcy

wayforth trucks scaled

Moving company WayForth, which caters its services to seniors, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. (BizSense file photo)

Amid efforts to cut costs by scaling down its footprint and laying off employees, local moving firm WayForth has ducked into bankruptcy.

The company, which offers moving and related services with a focus on seniors, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week in federal court in Richmond. Chapter 11 will allow the company to create a plan to pay off its debts as it continues to operate.

WayForth estimates that it has between 100 and 199 creditors, according to its initial court filings. The company says it has between $1 million and $10 million in estimated liabilities, and assets in the same range.

The move comes as the seven-year-old firm is underway on a sizable downsizing of its operations. Last month it ended moving operations at locations in eight states and in other parts of Virginia, leaving only its Richmond-region operations intact.

WayForth CEO Craig Shealy didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.

Dallas-based tax services firm Deloitte, which is owed about $205,000, is listed as the largest, non-insider unsecured creditor, according to court filings.

Additional larger unsecured creditors include Maryland-based Town & Country Movers ($191,500), Houston-based Victory Packaging ($122,600), local law firm McGuireWoods ($98,500) and Connecticut-based Cigna Healthcare ($79,400).

In line with what the company told BizSense last month, court filings state that WayForth’s rapid retreat from markets outside the Richmond area was a cost-cutting response to a failed merger deal that it hoped would save it from a challenging financial situation brought on by labor market and inflationary pressures.

“(WayForth) was in advanced negotiations with a private equity group in which the transaction would have provided significant equity capital as well as led to the debtor combining with a larger, profitable entity. The merger collapsed when the private equity group decided not to move forward with the transaction. As a consequence, the debtor was faced with an imminent cash crisis and very limited options,” court filings state.

The company pulled the plug Aug. 18 on its moving operations in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, as well as its other Virginia markets of Norfolk, Ashburn and Lorton.

“The decision was made to wind down all markets outside of the Richmond market, as well as most corporate functions, as soon as reasonably possible. In the past 30 days, (WayForth) closed all of its operations except those in the Richmond market,” the Friday filings state.

WayForth’s once nearly 500-strong workforce had been slashed to about 80 people by last week, the filings state.

Shealy, the CEO, had previously told BizSense that the company plans to eventually reduce its headcount down to 50 people.

WayForth is represented in the Chapter 11 case by Loc Pfeiffer of Richmond-based law firm Kutak Rock. Its initial hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday (today).

WayForth was founded by Shealy, Pete Shrock and Matt Paxton, who has appeared on the A&E show “Hoarders” as an extreme-cleaning expert. Paxton is no longer involved in WayForth.

The company originally launched as Legacy Navigator in 2016 and later rebranded. WayForth placed second in the 2020 edition of RVA25 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the region. Its growth was fueled by a series of acquisitions over the years.

Before WayForth declared bankruptcy,  a lawsuit was filed against the company by the founders of one of the firms it absorbed.

WayForth has its local operations hub at 2107 Loumour Ave. in Scott’s Addition and a corporate office at 1518 Willow Lawn Drive.

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Kate Grondin
Kate Grondin
17 days ago

As a dedicated shareholder and a former employee who invested significant time and effort into the company, I find myself at a loss for words when confronted with the bankruptcy filing of WayForth as it was so obviously avoidable. I respectfully disagree that the company’s failure had anything to do with “a challenging labor market” or “inflationary pressures.” I have had a front-row seat to what can only be described as a cascade of poor business decisions and lack of knowledgeable leadership that have impacted this company’s success. What astounds me is the apparent absence of accountability at both the… Read more »

Holli Sirianni
Holli Sirianni
16 days ago
Reply to  Kate Grondin

Kate, thank you for so perfectly stating what so many of the former 500 employees observed and experienced. Wayforth is a very sad case study in “poor business decisions and lack of knowledgeable leadership”.

Dave Akos
Dave Akos
15 days ago

It’s a shame that the other co-founder of WayForth talked a big game but never ever backed it up. Now he’s essentially just hiding somewhere. This business should be thriving. This company was so top heavy and couldn’t get out of their own way. The big questions are … where did all that investment money go? Who held who accountable? Why did Wayforth fail?

Matt Paxton
Matt Paxton
13 days ago

I feel the need to point out, that I left this company in 2019 and have had no interaction with the team or their services performed since late 2018. Downsizing is a THRIVING industry and continues to be a fantastic way to help families and employ incredible people. The rest of the industry is in a boom.