Moving made easier

Let Gentle Transitions of Edina help relieve the stress of moving to a new home.

Diane and Bill of Gentle Transitions
Edina-based Gentle Transitions is family owned by the wife-husband team of Diane Bjorkman and Bill Lehman. Photo courtesy of Gentle Transitions

Have you ever heard of a Senior Move Manager?

It’s a thing — a trademarked thing with the National Association of Move Managers. In fact, it’s a Minnesota-made phenomenon, born out of one woman’s struggle to move her aging mother four times in the final seven years of her life.

It was the late 1980s, and Mercedes Gunderson of Edina found the process of repeatedly relocating her mother overwhelming — not just for her as a devoted daughter, but for the whole family.

So she and her husband, Bernie, founded Gentle Transitions, a new business model to offer hands-on moving and downsizing assistance specialized for seniors and their families.

Today Gentle Transitions is the longest-operating business of its kind in the U.S., and its move managers — who helped set a national standard of excellence — are still helping families in the Twin Cities.

Consultation with Gentle Transitions
Gentle Transitions offers “resettling” services such as space planning, furniture arranging, unpacking and even bed-making, picture hanging and other finishing touches. Photo courtesy of Gentle Transitions.

In 2016, in fact, the company coordinated more than 900 moves in the metro area.

“We are known for superior customer service, compassion, professionalism and the utmost attention to detail,” said Diane Bjorkman, who is the current co-owner of Gentle Transitions, with her husband, Bill Lehman.

Gentle Transitions isn’t a moving company, but rather a relocation-coordination service.

It’s someone to take care of all the details, including estimating for, scheduling and supervising a professional moving company.

Services can also include professional packing; sorting and help with decision-making about what to keep/sell/gift; and/or the coordination of hiring others to manage estate sales, document shredding and donations to charitable organizations.

It also includes “total resettling” — things like utility and address changes, space planning, furniture arranging, unpacking and removing boxes, and other finishing touches such as picture hanging and bed making.

Gentle Transitions
Photo courtesy of Gentle Transitions.

“Picture hanging is such a well-received portion of our services,” Bjorkman said. “We’ve hung up to 100 pictures on a single move.”

Moves can be long-distance (to or from other states) or from one residence to another in a single community.

A complimentary first visit from Gentle Transitions includes a written estimate for coordination costs as well as an estimate for what it would cost to hire movers.

Bjorkman is proud of the company’s highly skilled move managers.

“Our employee group sets us apart, and they are unsurpassed,” Bjorkman said, adding that the Star Tribune has named the company a top workplace during the past four consecutive years. Gentle Transitions also boasts an A+ accreditation with the National Association of Move Managers.

Repeat business makes up a third of the company’s customers, Bjorkman said.

“We’ve moved people up to eight times,” she said. “That’s our record.”


Gentle Transitions

Where: Serves the Twin Cities metro and outlying areas

Founded: 1990

Ages served: Specializes in moving older adults, but serves all ages

Cost range for a single resident: Average fees range from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on what’s being moved, how much assistance a client wants in sorting through possessions, how far the move is and more. Moving company costs are not included.

Service options: Professional packing/unpacking; sorting and help with decision-making about what to keep/sell/gift; and/or the coordination of hiring others to manage estate sales, document shredding and donations to charitable organizations, plus resettling, including utility and address changes, space planning, furniture arranging and other finishing touches such as picture hanging and bed making. Other services include apartment clean outs (including in the case of deceased individuals); temporary relocations due to renovations; and assistance with crisis relocations due to water/fire damage (such as pipes bursting in winter).

Company headquarters: Edina

Free moving seminars: Get tips about moving and downsizing. Upcoming sessions (please RSVP) include 10:30–11:30 a.m. Jan. 16 in Richfield; 10–11:30 a.m. May 15 in Edina; and 10:30 a.m.–noon May 16 in Woodbury.

Info: 952-944-1028 or 651-224-0335 or gentletransitions.net


Do you know of a new or interesting senior housing facility (or service) in the Twin Cities that might make a good Housing Spotlight? Write Minnesota Good Age editor Sarah Jackson at editor@mngoodage.com with the subject line #HousingSpotlight.