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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Charles McDaniel in Wall Street Journal

Hilldrup Cos. CEO Charles McDaniel was featured in a Wall Street Journal article this month. The article was about the income gap shrinking between the richest Americans and the rest of the population. McDaniel says in the article that revenue at the Stafford County-based moving company may fall 20 percent from about $100 million this year. He notes that he’s cut costs by freezing pay and suspending 401(k) contributions. McDaniel tells the Journal that the downturn has affected both his choice of vacation spots and charitable giving.

Click here to read the Journal article. 


  • jcphokie72

    …it apparently only lets you read the first few paragraphs unless you’re a subscriber.


    A world away from Wall Street, Mr. McDaniel, whose family owns the Hilldrup moving-and-storage firm in Stafford, Va., is used to luxuries. “I like to be well treated,” he says. He has hopscotched to high-priced vacations in five-star hotels: skiing in Colorado in winter, snorkeling in the Caribbean in the spring and fly-fishing in Wyoming or Montana in the summer. The burly Mr. McDaniel, a 45-year-old former University of Virginia star linebacker, is also a regular, with his teenage son, at Super Bowls, and sometimes charters planes for East Coast trips. He drives an Audi A8 L, a model that starts at about $75,000.

    When the economy is humming, “psychologically you’re on a high, and the business supports that high,” he says.

    This year, Mr. McDaniel worries that the family company’s revenue of about $100 million may drop by 20%. To cut costs, he is turning salaried drivers and packers into independent contractors, paid by the move. For those still on salary, he is freezing pay and suspending 401(k) contributions.

    This summer he rented a house on a North Carolina beach rather than jetting to Jackson Hole, Wyo.

    Among those sharing in the income setback at the top will be the charities to which Mr. McDaniel commonly gives. “If my business is off 20%, my salary may be off 20%, so my charitable giving should be off 20% too,” he says.


    Well, what he didn’t say in the interview was that he slashed all his workers’ salaries by 5% and informed them via YouTube video…what a personal touch, eh? And if that wasn’t bad enough, he laid off all company packers and only rehired them if they came back as contractors…no health benefits, no 401K, no life insurance, no vacation or sick leave and many of these people had no other option but to come back as contractors and if their spouses didn’t have health insurance coverage, they just had to hope and pray they’d never get sick or need to take any days off. Then incredibly, Mr. McDaniel must have really been suffering, as he let go 2 company Class A CDL drivers just a week and a half before Christmas! How do I know this? My husband was one of them. At the time of his termination, he was told he was fortunate that Hilldrup would be giving him 2 week’s severance pay once he signed a termination package full or legal mumbo jumbo. He was told he could have his attorney review the papers…what a joke, those of us who don’t earn 8 or 9 figure salaries don’t normally keep attorneys on retainer (we don’t usually need to either). Two weeks severance pay is a JOKE in today’s economy when many people are just 1 or 2 paychecks away from poverty. We are very blessed, and not in that situation, but my husband told me that the other gentleman who was let go is in that situation and has 2 children. Merry friggin’ Christmas from Charlie McDaniel…real nice. How did Hilldrup go from being a company that cared so much for its employees and so family friendly to one that was all about Mr. McDaniel’s bottom dollar? Oh, but wait, the two drivers let go today were told that they could come right back tomorrow as CONTRACTORS…gee, I think we could all see that one coming a mile away. AND this was after treating everyone to a company breakfast last Friday giving away cash prizes and iPods and making everyone feel that everything was going to be just fine. Hilldrup has many government customers, including military customers, on top of all their corporate and “Joe Public” customers. I just completed a program at the National Defense University on Strategic Leadership…I must say Mr. McDaniel does not appear to fit into that category at all. If a person cannot be a humble leader who invests in his people who are the foundation of his success, he will soon find his foundation has crumbled and washed away with the tide of personal integrity and ethics. Happy Holidays to Charles McDaniel…but I wonder if he can enjoy them with as clean a conscious as those whose holidays he’s ruined.