In a word, YES!
Gentle Giant Moving Company prides itself on being able to move anything our customers ask us to, no matter how challenging it may appear. Often times to ensure an item’s safety, a custom crate needs to be built on demand. Tom Kiefer, our resident Crate Whisperer, has built a career out of building any and every type of custom crate imaginable.
Tom’s wooden masterpieces come out of his workshop nestled in Gentle Giant’s Wilmington, MA warehouse. Tom fills orders as they come in, often times under extreme deadlines. He estimates that he builds around 2,000 crates in a year, sometimes sending out over 50 in one day!
Keeping with Gentle Giant’s Green Initiatives, everything Tom makes is reusable. Some crates have gone out nearly a dozen times without being reconfigured. However, because of the system he created, Tom can retrofit different crate parts by simply unscrewing the panels from one another and reassembling them with other parts to adjust to whatever is needed.
“I have nearly 4,000 pieces in stock,” Tom explains. “For a new order I look for a complete crate first. Failing that, I get all the pieces I can from my library and then make what I don’t have. The nature of crating has changed. I rarely make a crate from start to finish these days. And that’s a good thing because with the volume of last minute orders I can cut down on the time to fill orders.”
Gentle Giant’s customers know that whatever precious pieces they have will be safe from harm because of Tom’s custom crating expertise. Through his illustrious career, he has built some wildly inventive and innovative crates that instantly put nervous customers at ease. For example, a extremely valuable collection of glass figurines was kept safe in a crate Tom built that had individual compartments for each figurine within the crate.
“I made a crate for a toaster once because I didn’t want it going in the same crate as a high value grandfather clock. The toaster crate was instead screwed to the outside of the clock crate like a nodule.”
When asked about some of the more expensive pieces he built a crate for, Tom told us about an $850,000 Korean folding screen. He cleverly used non “off gassing” plywood, “D” ring handles and hardwood 1×4′s to ensure its safety. After sitting safely and securely in Gentle Giant’s climate control storage room for a year, the customer came by, took it out of the crate, and tossed it in the trunk of his car and left. Always the consummate professional, Tom smiled and made a nice tool chest from the lavish crate.
Tom cringes as he recounts one of his finest, largest crates. It was forty feet long, about four feet tall, and three feet wide, made for an eight man rowing boat that came apart in 2 sections. As fate would have it, the crate was to be shipped overseas and was too big for the shipping container, so it was never used. At this time, we are not sure if Tom was able to build a custom crate for his disappointment after this incident.
Since then he has made two 26′ long crates for racing shells for a single person, and Tom is constantly getting ideas for improvements for the next shell that should come along.
This summer Tom will fill his 10,000th crate order. ”I plan on a huge celebration party. I will eat a jumbo 3 Musketeers bar and down a 2 liter bottle of Jolt. No expense will be spared.”
Congratulations Tom! But be careful with that Jolt Cola. That junk has enough caffeine to keep you awake until your 20,000th crate order comes in!