I am very proud to report that Gentle Giant is a Finalist for the Family Business Awards. While we won’t know the results for a few more weeks, this whole process has reflecting on Gentle Giant’s history, and how I, along with the tireless support of my family and friends, created a family business worthy of such recognition.
Our little moving company comes from a humble beginning that focused on hustle and customer service. Before Gentle Giant was ever conceived, I was a rising executive at Eaton Corporation when I quit my job to escape corporate slavery and pursue my writing interests while investigating the possibilities of starting a light manufacturing company.
On my quest for start up cash, I was urged by my closest friends to add moving to the long list of odd jobs I was doing at the time. At 6′ 6″ (the original Gentle Giant!), moving was a natural fit for my physical strength and commitment to a job well done.
In 1980, I founded Gentle Giant Moving Company with a friend’s borrowed truck and a $17 investment: a one-time ad in the Boston Phoenix newspaper. I felt strongly that Boston sorely needed an infusion of quality into the moving industry and, in 1984, committed myself fully to that mission.
Gentle Giant’s first truck was purchased with a loan I received from my mother, and with lots of hard work, my supportive family, and an eye for talent, that fleet has grown to almost 100 trucks operating every day across Gentle Giant’s 18 offices in 9 states.
Currently at Gentle Giant, I am supported by several family members. Jacquie O’Toole, my sister, is one of the most confident, successful on-site sales people in the company. Ayanna McKinnon, who is my niece formerly in charge of the Quality Control department, is currently back in school but still contributes to the office staff during breaks. Paul and Dylan Brodeur are my nephews who crew chief moving jobs and work as an IT specialist, respectively.
My friend and co-owner of Gentle Giant, John Pacocha, saw how supportive my family was and encouraged his family to contribute to the multiple family business. John’s son Ben has been working on the trucks during breaks from college, where he is studying digital filmmaking.
I am so proud of the family we have at Gentle Giant because even though we are a business, the atmosphere and culture here is more of a family than a board of directors. We listen and support each other, get emotionally involved in our work, and look forward to coming in every day.
I will keep you posted on the status of the Family Business Award, as we are very excited to hear the results.