The City Magazine Since 1975

Precious Cargo

July 2017
Precious Cargo
WRITER: 

Elite moving service Westbrook Corp. specializes in transporting priceless antiques

Justin Westbrook (right, at center) and his team transported Historic Charleston Foundation treasures to Palm Beach for the Society of the Four Arts’ 2015 exhibit, “An Eye for Opulence: Charleston through the Lens of the Rivers Collection.”

“I can’t sit still in an office,” Justin Westbrook, owner of white-glove moving company Westbrook Corp., explains by phone while en route to an unnamed client at famed West Virginia resort The Greenbrier. “Quite a few people have me sign nondisclosures. You’d recognize them,” he notes. “We joke with the new guys, ‘Ever seen anything like that on MTV Cribs?’”

Westbrook grew up moving antiques for his grandfather’s auction house in a “small, one-red-light town” outside Augusta. After spending his 20s employed in Charleston food and bev, he made the switch back to his childhood gig—but this time at the helm of his own business. “I started out working locally with Tucker Payne Antiques, and Tucker referred me to other antiques dealers and interior designers, as well as Historic Charleston Foundation,” says Westbrook.

The latter provided a particularly big break when it hired him in 2011 to take a prize Charleston easy chair—one of 10 in existence—to New York for the Winter Antiques Show exhibit “Grandeur Preserved: Masterworks Presented by Historic Charleston Foundation.” Insurance required the chair to be attended personally at all times. “I felt like I should have been in an armored car,” laughs Westbrook. “That’s when I realized how great the need was for services like mine.”

Westbrook Corp. disassembled this limestone gazebo in Atlanta and hand-delivered it to California.

In six years, the Westbrook Corp. fleet has grown from a single truck to seven vehicles used for in-town household moves and cross-country journeys alike. For the company’s founder, a perk of hitting the road with his pup, Jack Straw, is catching iconic concerts along the way. “I took my sprinter van to Chicago for the Grateful Dead’s ‘Fare Thee Well’ show and picked up two Bugatti cabinets while I was there,” Westbrook notes. While the show tickets may be considered a splurge, those cabinets could retail for up to $95,000—each.

 

On the Move

A look at the big, the bad, and the most challenging

Largest markets: For household moves, Charleston and Atlanta are huge. Westbrook trucks also run regular routes to New York City, New Orleans, Miami, Chicago, and cities out west like Jackson Hole.

Worst learning experience: After a move, Westbrook unwrapped a huge limestone statue to find an old hairline fracture had opened up. “And we’d packed the hell out of it,” he says. Westbrook Corp. no longer insures limestone.

Most labor-intensive job: A limestone gazebo whose 500-pound pieces had to be carried out through an estate garden with a koi pond. “If you misstepped six inches, you were knee-high in water,” recalls Westbrook.

Resources: 

Photographs courtesy of Westbrook Corp.