2016 Heritage Award Winner: April Surratt
April Surratt was born in Houston, Texas in a tiny home about five miles from the office to Richard and Sue Ellen Gibson. When she was two she moved to her grandparents’ previous home off of 45 South. Their house backed up to the Sims Bayou. She was lucky enough to have four dogs, four cats, two hamsters and a tank full of fish. She also was able to catch and keep the occasional turtle that wondered up from the bayou. Growing up she was very active in the Rainbow Girls Organization. Her Grandfather Lonny was a Mason, and her Grandmother an Eastern Star. It was through this group that she learned how important it is to give back to the community and how blessed and fortunate we all are in our daily lives. She started working in the moving industry at 13 years old through college working summers. Many of the people she would see each summer are still with the company today. One of their accounting ladies just retired after 40 years of service. Their Operations Manager has been with East End over 40 years and going strong.
From the time she was a little girl, her dream was to run East End. Her Dad always told her she had to go to college and get a degree before I could come into this business. So she studied hard, and got her business degree before starting full time with the company. April learned to never miss work, be one time if not 15 minutes early, and to have a strong work ethic. As April says, the moving industry gets in your blood. She is thankful to love what she does every day. And she’s only crushed one set of toes while on the job!
Gaylon and April’s story started on a blind date in 1984 while she was a student at The University of Texas. Though the date started off on an interesting foot, Gaylon’s car had broken down on the way to her house, and she agreed to drive them. They dated for 2 ½ years and were married 1986. They have now been married 30 blissful years and never had a fight. They have two girls Kailee 25 and Holly 22. Holly’s husband David works for East End as the head of the Express/Logistics department, continuing the generation of movers! Gaylon and April love to travel and have been certified scuba divers since 1985. They enjoy fishing, at their family place in Willis Texas as well as deep sea fishing. Camping and Arabian horse competitions filled most weekends for the family as the girls grew up.
April is a third generation mover. Her Grandfather, Dick Gibson, started East End Transfer in 1946. In 1975 East End Transfer became agents for United Van Lines. And were the largest household goods agent United had ever converted. Gaylon and April are very active as Shareholders in the UniGroup system. In 1999 they opened G and S Moving & Storage our Mayflower agency that has been a very successful branch of the business. April was selected as Mover of the Year for GHMA and served as the First Woman President. She also served as Chairman of SMA in 2007. April has been an integral part of the foundation and the important work that they do for the students in our industry. She has served on the Board of SMA for over 25 years and the friendships through this organization have always been very important to me. April says that as a young company owner, SMA filled the void of information and knowledge. She learned many best practices and insight into the business that would have taken years to develop on her own. And the friendships she has come to cherish are priceless.