Cadogan Tate is no stranger to the world of high-value, complex, time sensitive moves. We've relocated a 1200-person media and marketing firm in central London over one night, shipped emergency replacement financial trading servers via private jet to New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and moved a personal art collection worth over $300 million from Geneva to Hampstead. Pretty standard for a company that has spent the last 40 years serving the ultra-high net worth and corporate communities. But as our trucks navigated the security-swamped streets of Washington DC on 20th January 2017, we knew none came bigger than this.
However, when we took the initial call from Michael Smith Inc, one of the world's top interior designers, about moving the personal effects of a client from the Washington metropolitan area on inauguration day, our first thought was that scheduling the move for any other day might be a better idea. After all, Washington was going to be more than a little busy. But of course, once we discovered the client’s code name – Mr BOB - everything became clear to us and what followed over the next few days was unlike any other move undertaken in Cadogan Tate’s history.
One of the key factors in creating a trouble-free move is to establish in advance exactly what we're dealing with by performing a site survey. Information on access at the collection and delivery addresses and of course, exactly what’s to be moved is crucial to hitting deadlines and minimising the risk of damage to the customer’s belongings. When you could be moving anything from irreplaceable family heirlooms to the contents of a teenager’s bedroom, it takes a high degree of expertise to assess the task and prepare the specialist packing materials, casing and transport to ensure a seamless move.
Yet the standard reply to almost every question we asked throughout the project was "Yeah, we're not gonna be able to talk about that." So imagine the flicker of trepidation that crossed the mind of the senior client services manager with overall responsibility for managing the move, as the conversation continued and he learned nothing more about the impending move other than the crew had a four-hour window to complete the job and there would be some rather stringent “security measures” to navigate.
Come the day, as the Cadogan Tate team who conducted the move will no doubt tell their grandchildren, it all went without a hitch. In many ways, it was no different from any of the thousands of moves we've made on behalf of high profile clients over the past 40 years. Yet in other ways, it was truly unique. Rarely do we ever perform a home move where movers for the new occupier are moving contents in through one door in a room as we were moving our customer’s out through another. As you'd expect, the Secret Service were omnipresent and were our constant chaperones and directors, their manner as professional and finely-tuned as a Stradivarius.
With such a short time frame to turn things around and no real idea what we were handling until we were on the spot, we were grateful for the help of the impeccably professional White House staff and security personnel, who appreciated the pressure we were under. Not only did we have no information on what we would be packing and transporting, we were kept equally in the dark about the route and access to the residence to which we were moving everything. But, with so many people involved in managing and overseeing the relocation, it all ran to plan, even though, for once, we were following someone else's plan rather than our own. And as for the route? We’re used to operating in a security sensitive environment but rolling through deserted streets of a capital city, locked down by the US Army for the task in hand as part of a secret service and police cavalcade, is a new one, even for us.
Working with some of the world’s most in-demand interior designers, we have witnessed many a frenetic scene on arriving at a customer's new property, but this was in a class of its own. So much activity, so many people working to prepare the elegant but unassuming property in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Yet, as each member of an orchestra comes together to create a musical spectacle, so piece by piece we assembled Michael Smith’s beautifully imagined room sets which, for the next few years at least, will be home to the 44th President of the United States and his family.
We can look back to that day in January 2017 with great pride and a sense of truly rising to the occasion. It was a day to remember for Cadogan Tate in a way the rest of the world never knew. We consider it a great honour and privilege to have been selected to move The First Family from The White House to their new Washington abode and wish them well in their new home.