- Photo by Peggy Hurley / courtesy of Arnoff Moving & Storage.
In Michael Arnoff’s office, there’s a large picture of row upon row of solar panels. The panels are black and have straight white lines crisscrossing them—the photo looks like a work of modern art or something from a science fiction novel.
“That’s my favorite photo,” says Arnoff, and he has good reason to be proud of it.
Arnoff is the president of Arnoff Moving & Storage, a specialty moving company that has gone all out for the environment in recent years. The photo in Arnoff’s office is of the solar farm located on the roof of the company’s Millerton warehouse. In May, the switch was flipped on the 96 kilowatt farm, which is one of the biggest solar farms in the region.
Arnoff Moving & Storage is a family-run business, and Arnoff says the creation of the solar farm was fueled by family discussions. “We’re a five-generation family business, so our business was formed in 1924, 88 years ago, by my great-grandfather,” he says. “As a family business, we sit on holidays and at weekend dinners and things like that and business always seems to pop into the conversation and one of the things that we’ve been talking about over the last few years is the whole concept of carbon fuels and trying to cut down on our carbon footprint.”
Arnoff adds that the first thing they looked at was the materials they use to pack and ship products. “Today, about 80 percent of our packing material is generated from recycled materials,” he says. The next step was reducing the fuel use of the company’s trucks. “We invested in newer-model trucks that have better fuel efficiency,” Arnoff says.
When the company found that the roof on the Millerton warehouse was in need of repair, Arnoff recalls, “We started thinking, what else can we do with the roof? People are farming on roofs and using roofs for different processes. Then the idea of solar came up.”
The company brought in Hudson Solar, a Rhinebeck solar company, to oversee the whole project. Hudson Solar also helped the company receive federal government tax credits for the project. With the tax credits, Arnoff says that the solar farm will pay for itself in the first few years and then will provide income for the business after that.
Arnoff Moving & Storage is based primarily in the Hudson Valley but they also have facilities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Florida. The company specializes in moving and storing unusual and valuable items that need to be handled with extreme care.
“We move things that most companies don’t move,” says Arnoff. “We just finished a 16-month project installing $3.8 billion of equipment in a brand-new semiconductor chip manufacturing facility.” Other recent projects include a two year storage of valuable museum items taken from a West Point building that was undergoing renovation.
The company was started in 1918 in Lakeville, Connecticut, which is just across the state border from Millerton. Arnoff says that the company has always had deep ties to Millerton. “In the ’50s, the available manpower, people who could be trained to become professional movers came out of the nearest farm community, which was Millerton,” he says. He adds that Millerton’s direct train line to New York City played a large role in the company’s early shipping business.
The company maintains strongly connected to the Millerton community. “We still find a very, very pride-driven workforce, and that’s really important to us as a five-generation family business,” Arnoff says.
Arnoff is married with three children, the oldest of whom has joined the company as well. He says he would urge other business owners to take steps, whether they be large or small, to make their companies more environmentally friendly.
“The big cry is that some of this is so expensive,” he says, “but if you put the effort in, there are [affordable] ways to figure out being more green and more conscious of our community and the greater world at large. We all have to take responsibility, it’s not just up to one person, it’s all of us and each person has to do as much as we can, whether that’s just sorting your household waste or, if you own a business, trying to find better products to use. Maybe it’s as simple as not using a Styrofoam coffee cup and using a paper coffee cup instead.”