Gentle Giant Moving Company Founder & CEO Larry O’Toole is often complimented on his eye for talent. No matter where he is, if Larry eyes an individual with strength, enthusiasm, and grit, he will have no problem approaching that person with a career opportunity like no other.
Jon Powell had never heard of Gentle Giant back in the mid-90′s when he was a collegiate rower. In fact, it wasn’t until Larry approached Jon at a rowing event and started talking about the company and coming to work for him. To quote Mr. Powell, “I found it very weird at the time but now recognize the tactic as pure genius.”
As Jon became immersed in the Gentle Giant culture, he found that his experience with rowing had properly prepared him for the demanding job. “The teamwork that I experienced rowing helped set me up for the kind of culture that GG tries to cultivate. Also, the physical demands of the job were made easier because of the incredible shape I was in.” Jon also noted several times that he is still in fabulous shape 16 years later.
While he was indeed prepared to work hard every day, Jon’s first year was no cake walk. ”It was very difficult, I ran into so many challenges that I just had to deal with and get past. It was great fun, at times very stressful, physically and mentally, and forced me to grow in ways I may never have if I didn’t work here. The late 1990′s was a very busy time for moving and especially for GG. We were starting to Branch out past our roots in Somerville, MA and open offices in suburban areas. I started in the Framingham office when there were 3-4 people at most working there. It was a very scaled down operation and far removed from the main offices in Somerville. The amount of welcome I received when I met workers from the Somerville office was surprising to me. As was the amount of furniture and items that our customers can have…”
By the time Jon finished school, he had made an amazing impression on Gentle Giant, so Larry approached him about taking on more responsibility in the company. The reasons Jon wanted to stay and make a career were pretty straightforward. “From a day to day perspective, the people I work with and the way the company provides everything we need to get the job done right. From a top down perspective, the unwavering attention to striving for excellence is what keeps me engaged and motivated.”
In addition to the company’s commitment to excellence in all facets, Jon also added that “Gentle Giant supports the people who work here. We are encouraged to learn from our mistakes and we’re not disciplined greatly for making those mistakes. GG nurtures continuous improvement.”
In addition to being a highly respected manager, Jon works with new Giants to train them properly, guide them, and help them become leaders themselves. When times get tough on the trucks, Jon will remind newer Giants that everyone at the company has survived extremely challenging days.One piece that required some finesse to move properly was “a Chinese wedding bed. But it wasn’t so much the piece as it was the access. It had to be craned into the back deck of a 5th floor brownstone in Boston. That required the Crane to haul the piece from the front parking area all the way over the roof to the back deck. The top of the bed was a bit larger than a king size mattress and the crane operator was flying blind for half of the operation only getting instructions from the crew about how to move the piece. Then I had to assemble it!”
Everyone that has ever worked with Jon agrees that he embodies the “Gentle Giant” spirit for he is a powerful 6’7 but is one of the most careful movers our company has. He is also a character that makes long days shorter by keeping everybody smiling while working hard.
Jon lives in Methuen, MA with his wife of 13 years , Elena, where they’ve been lucky enough to buy a house that they’ve been in for 7 years. ”I have 2 daughters, Gwendolyn who is 12 and Emma who is 11. We are about as busy as we can be between work, school, and my band. We practice twice a week in my basement and gig 2-3 times a month, but we make it work with a lot of hugs and communication.” Sounds a lot like life on the trucks!
Jon has been a musician since he was 10 years old. ”I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to cultivate music into my adulthood. Now that my daughters Gwendolyn and Emma are growing into their teens, and with the support of my incredible wife Elena, I have been able to have a rock band for the last couple years. Watch out for Monkey Knife Fight in and around the Boston area!”