Gentle Giant Moving Company and the Boston Bruins Deliver the Goods!

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Throughout this past holiday season, Boston moving company Gentle Giant Moving Company again joined the entire Boston Bruins roster for the Boston Bruins annual Holiday Toy Delivery. The first part of this year’s event took place at the Target in Everett, MA on …

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Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Olympian Dan Walsh

Walsh on the river, demonstrating the perfect form that made him an Olympic Champion

This month on the “Moving On” Gentle Giant Alumni Bio Blog, we are featuring 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist and Master Mover Dan Walsh. Dan’s accomplishments make everyone at Gentle Giant so proud, and we are privileged to have worked with him during his world class rowing career.

When did you start your career at Gentle Giant Moving Company?

I started with Gentle Giant the summer of 2000 while I was in summer classes at Northeastern University. Dave Lister and Rob Leaver came to the Northeastern Boathouse when I was a freshman to talk about the opportunity to work at Gentle Giant.  It was instant connection to the NU Rowers since NU rowers started GG.

What brought you to Gentle Giant?

It was a really simple decision:  I was able to make good money on my schedule, the work was compliment to my training, and to me hard work is fun.

Dan on the water in his spiffy Gentle Giant rowing uni-suit.

What GG location did you work out of mostly? And with who?

I have only worked out of [Gentle Giant HQ in] Somerville, the GG original.  My training was with Rooty and back then that meant going to homes where the furniture had to be problem solved.  I remember getting into a box truck with the big dude who is a living GG legend.  The only thing bigger than Rooty was his smile to the guys in the truck and the homeowners. 

There was a dresser that was 4 times as wide as a normal dresser that NEEDED to go into the master bedroom.  The crew on the job was at a stalemate with the staircase and a sharp turn along with freshly painted walls.  Rooty takes out the measuring tape, checks the dresser, ceiling, stairs, doorway, hallway, looks at me as says “Think you can lift that end?”  Not like I really had a choice, so I listened to his instructions, straight pick here, coffin carry there, lift a bit higher, and lower your end. BOOM dresser is in the bedroom, no scratches, breaks, or tears. 

What was your favorite part of working at Gentle Giant?

That’s easy, the people!  It’s a great group of smart people who really enjoy life.  Giants have big hearts and great stories, there is never a boring day on the trucks with the right group, never a bad day with a good crew, and there is always a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Dan with his crew members pose with Oprah Winfrey

What in your past prepared you to become a successful Gentle Giant?

I was a Division I rower for Northeastern University so I had the fitness, but that was always tested when I had 4th floor walk-up to another 4th floor walkup with Tommy Travers.

Who did you look up to at Gentle Giant and why?

Rooty Leonard because of the way he treated his fellow Giants and interacted with the customer. The guy is a Zen master with so much strength.  To be that strong and gentle is truly an art.  Also, Tom Travers because of how much he drives his crew and makes you earn your stripes to be a “stair guy”. 

What was the toughest piece you ever moved? How did you do it?

The toughest piece was one of those wooden playground sets in a back yard.  It was a house to house and they were on the same street with two houses in between them.  The job was going over time and we didn’t have the tools to take it apart so we decided to just carry it across the back yards.  We got permission from the neighbors, walked to the playground set and of course it was settled about 8 inches into the ground.  The 5 of us each got under a support beam and squatted, dead lifted, or pressed this thing out of the ground.  Well now it was out of the ground so we start carrying it across the yards not realizing there was a 3-foot retaining wall between the last two yards.  So one more time we got grips, used some muscle, and pressed the playground up over the wall.  The Giants got it in the back yard. 

Was there something you learned at Gentle Giant that helped you achieve success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics?

Pushing through the work will have a positive outcome if you are all in it together. 

What advice could you give current Giants about pursuing their own career goals?

Nothing in life worth doing is easy. If it was everyone would be successful.  You need to be the main driver in your life and cannot wait for something to fall into your lap.  You need people to help you along the way but they are more willing to help if they see you pushing yourself.  

Describe your career now, and what your goals for the future look like.

I am now a Division I rowing coach for my Alma Mater, Northeastern University.  I believe I want to stay in the coaching field and be a head coach one day. 

Dan and Tyrone

Have you/would you recommend Gentle Giant as a good place to work, and why?

I would never hesitate recommending GG to someone I believed had the ability to follow in the footsteps of Giants.  I would not recommend it to everyone; it takes special people who have strength physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The customer needs to see all three of those on every job.  Not everyone is cut out for that.

What are your hobbies, interests, or passions outside of Gentle Giant?

I like to be outdoors, making ice cream, and helping others achieve their goals. 

Tell us a little about your family and where you live:

I grew up in Norwalk, CT the youngest of 4.  I now live in Watertown with my beautiful wife Keri and our dog Tyrone.  

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Jim Ladio

Jim (4th from the Left) with his lightning fast Syracuse University Crew Team

For this month’s “Moving On” Alumni Bio, we’re going to find out more about Jim Ladio, one of the most fun loving young Giants we’ve worked with in recent years.

How You Heard About Gentle Giant - “From (incredibly handsome Gentle Giant Moving Company legend) Mitch Curtis! We were playing softball and Mitch mentioned Gentle Giant to me while he was hurling softballs in his trademark short shorts. Then, when I came back from a wilderness certification and self-sufficiency program in Washington State, he set me up with an interview. If I would have never left my corporate finance desk to become a wild man of the woods, I would have never found GG and I would be less of a human as I stand here now.”

Gentle Giant Tenure - September 2010 – January 2013

Locations Worked Out Of – Somerville, Franklin, Marlborough, Acton

Favorite Giants to Work With – “Greg Larson, Jeff Pope, Pat Andrus, Nuno Melo, Tom Travers, and everybody else who would get mad if i didn’t mention their name.”

Most Challenging Job – “It was an average day moving pianos with Pat when we suddenly realized a job had been left off the schedule. We had to get a massive concert grand rental (sitting quietly at another location across town) to Harvard University (back across town in the opposite direction) for an important alumni banquet, and we had about half the time we normally would have needed to get it done. 1 hour and 20 minutes later, we had the 9 footer carefully wedged into the food services elevator at Harvard after Pat pulled the entire thing in by himself, leaving tuna tartar and beef carpaccio scattered on the ground from zooming past the slow-moving caterers. Up it went and out onto the stage with 3 minutes to get tuned and ready. All set after 2 minutes, 1 minute to spare, with no one the wiser!”

Favorite part of Working at GG – “The immensely positive feeling of a day’s hard work… every single day on the trucks.”

Best Score – “The brand new king bed that I sleep on!”

Jim won Allie's heart in Italy by wearing GG gear

LIFE AFTER GENTLE GIANT

Where Traveled To - “2.5 weeks on a whim to Ireland, Germany and Switzerland for one amazing trip. Then, left for Italy for 6 months to volunteer on a 1,200 acre honey, olive oil, and cattle farm in the heart of Tuscany.  http://www.barbiallanuova.it/  Check it out!”

Jobs Had – “From Italy to California, I’m now working with The Organizer Guys http://organizerguys.com/ in the Bay Area, putting the skills I acquired at Gentle Giant to great use.”

What Does Your Future Hold – “I’m hoping to help propel this company to greater heights, which may include developing a mutually beneficial relationship with Gentle Giant’s San Francisco Moving Company Great Giant at the same time.”

How Has Gentle Giant Helped You in Your Career – “I’ve never worked harder in my life. GG pushes excellence, perseverance, and personal growth in their Giants through teamwork and a commitment to providing an elite, customer focused service. Moving furniture is only a part of what Gentle Giant does. They’re in the business of empowering men and women to lead a purpose filled life. The recognition they give for hard, challenging work will do that to you.”

Gentle Giant Moving Co.’s Restoration Team Brings Longfellow to Life!

Gentle Giant Moving Company‘s Restoration Team, also known as Gentle Giant Restoration, recently completed a job that will have fans of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow jumping for joy. As you can see from the video, when the Longfellow bust came in, it was in rough shape and in dire need of restoration. GGR Master Restorer Rob Parmenter spent weeks working on this, and we have the time lapse video documenting his hard work.

Check it out here and make sure to turn on/up your speakers to hear the cool soundtrack:


 

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – John Lund

JOHN LUND FAST FACTS

Gentle Giant Moving Company Career: 1997-2005

  • “I’m not sure if I ever ‘ended’ my career as I often think about showing up at the yard negotiating my way onto a job.”

 

Offices: Somerville, Beverly, and Wilmington

  • gentle giant moving

    John and Ian having fun on the job

    “In Somerville I worked with legends such as Mike Fratus, Steve Hart, Tom Travers, Jim Chidiac along with my Northeastern University rowing buddies such as John Brokars, Dan Walsh, and Ian Coveny.”

  • “In Beverly I mostly worked with another NU rower, Brian Eatough. He was the Office Manager at the time. Brian taught me a lot about leadership and importance of following a process.”
  • “In Wilmington I worked with Jon Powell. The first time I met Jon P was actually at CRASH B’s before I even started working at Gentle Giant. We were competing against each other in the mixed 1,000 meter race (a male and female rower from a college would row 1,000 meters each, their scores were averaged, and that decided the winning time). I’m 6’ 5” and usually don’t feel small around most people but when I saw Jon (at 6’ 7” and 245lbs) approach the erg, I thought to myself, “Come on, this isn’t professional wrestling this is supposed to be rowing! Who let this guy in?” Jon (who was representing UMass) won. I got third.”

John wore his lucky GG tank top at the Finnish Indoor Rowing Championships in 2009

 

How he got started: Lund was rowing at Northeastern and had several friends who were already working at Gentle Giant. When he mentioned that he was looking for a summer job they suggested that I meet with GG Founder and CEO Larry O’Toole. When they met, Larry promised John that working as a mover at GG will make you a better rower, and that it is essentially getting paid for working out. To this day, John is “still waiting for a paycheck for all the time I spent on an erg!”

John’s favorite part of working at the Giant was the tough jobs he was on with other motivated athletes. “During my first summer at GG, it wasn’t uncommon to have a crew with 3 rowers go out and do a 4th floor no elevator to a 4th floor no elevator job. The bigger and heavier the furniture was, the more we enjoyed the challenge of getting everything moved without any damage. When the job was over and everything went as planned, high fives were the norm.”

When talking about his first year, John says “I was sore. My first day at GG was 18 hours. When we finally got back to the yard at midnight I still had a 30-minute bike ride home. The next morning I had a 6:00 start. By the end of my second day my entire body was aching and I thought, ‘This is going to be a long summer…but I started this and I’ll finish it.’ My body became used to the work and I really began to enjoy it. There is a blissful, masochistic element to the job that any athlete should appreciate.”

“I have really fond memories of my first summer at GG. Everything about it was just so cool. I’m not sure if it was because of my age, or because I loved Boston in the summer, or because I was able to hang out with my friends all day…or maybe it was a combination of those things. In any case, I still remember those summer days of driving back to the yard after getting a big tip on a job, blasting a cheesy song from the inadequate truck radio, and wondering what I would do that night. Those were definitely good times.”

“I’m not sure if anything really prepared me to be a successful Giant. I’ve always believed that with the right attitude the right result will follow. I’ve always been ‘goal oriented’ and moving furniture suits such a personality. Moving is very simple in principle:

  1. Put things on truck until the customer says, ‘Stop’
  2. Drive to customer’s new home
  3. Take everything off the truck and put it where customer says
  4. Go home.

The goal becomes to do each of those things as well as possible (ie, don’t break customer’s belongings; smile; practice good hygiene; make new Giants feel like they’re part of something special, etc).”

For John, the approach was always the same: “This stuff is going into that house/apartment/basement/attic even if it kills me. I don’t think there is a Giant who hasn’t lost some skin on tight doorways in an attempt to protect a wall and a piece of furniture.”

The greatest lesson John learned while at Gentle Giant was to “Stay positive and never quit!” He also has advice to current Giants pursuing their own career goals: “Identify where you want to be. Give yourself a no nonsense assessment of where you are today. Create a sensible plan to get from where you are today to where you want to be. Stay positive and never quit.”

John takes his own advice, as he is currently a VP at a technology company in Austria. “I always wanted to work abroad in international business and I’ve been doing so since I left the Giants in 2005.”

Outside of work, John has a wide spectrum of extra-curricular activities he enjoys, including full contact K1 kickboxing, Wife Carrying (2005 US champ and 2010 UK champ ), rowing (gold medal at 2009 Masters World Rowing Championships), 2009 World Air Guitar Championships, filmmaking, screenwriting, and “throwing weights around like they’re toys.”

Since leaving GG John has lived in Tampere, Finland, London, UK and is currently living in Dornbirn, Austria where he can see the Alps from his balcony. “I’m not sure where I’ll go next but I’m not very good at staying in one place for too long.”

Gentle Giant Moving Company and the American Cancer Society

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Gentle Giant Moving Company‘s New York team recently entered into a partnership with the American Cancer Society to help with their enormous Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Brooklyn. Gentle Giant helped load several hundred boxes filled with clothing, …

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The Hidden Costs of Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor

 

Moving has been in Bobby's family for generations

Allston Piano Movers Founder Bobby Franklin has been in the service industry his entire life, and has heard all the horror stories from people that got burned trying to save a few dollars by hiring an unlicensed, disreputable contractor to work in their homes. When Allston Piano joined the Gentle Giant Moving Company family a few years ago, Bobby shared with us a lot of the wisdom he has collected over the years, and now we’d like to share it with you:

As the economy continues to languish, many businesses are struggling to endure the increasing cost of overhead caused by added OSHA regulations, IRS policies, healthcare and insurance costs, worker’s compensation claims, and more. While the impact on small businesses is apparent, how does this affect the consumer? With most people using the internet as their first (and most times only) choice in locating a business in the service industry, it is easy to fall prey to less than legitimate companies. Anyone can set up a slick looking web site making all kinds of promises and claims about being licensed and insured. Often times, the consumer is only looking for the lowest price, which these uninsured outfits usually provide. However, what is not commonly known is that hiring a company working “off the books” puts the consumer at risk from many different angles.

For starters, a company operating in the underground economy will not have proper insurance coverage. This means that not only will your family and possessions not be protected, but you may also be held liable in the event a worker is injured while working for you.

The Allston Piano Movers Team

When hiring a company to work in your home, consider the level of ethics they have. Reputable companies that take care of their employees do so that the employees will in turn take care of the customer. Doing this often garners repeat business and the almighty referral, which are the lifeblood of service providers. On the other hand, an underground, unlicensed contractor most likely will not be giving their workers proper medical, worker’s compensation, and most of the benefits that a legitimate company would provide. If taxes are withheld at all, they may not even be turned over to the government. In most cases these companies pay their employees in cash.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF 

RESEARCH: Check to see if the company you are looking into hiring has a land telephone line with a local exchange. Also, ensure that they have a legitimate address in the state where they are advertising their services. Many disreputable companies will simply register a remote UPS Mailbox Store address in order to get a local address. Or they will also sometimes just use a friend’s address. Want to feel like the FBI cracking down on a shady business? Use Google Maps to zoom in on the address provided to check out whether the location is what it’s being advertised as.

DUE DILIGENCE: Ask for a certificate of insurance to be sent to you directly from their insurance provider. Once you receive this, call the provider to verify that all coverage is active and applicable to your state. Also, check to see if their trucks are registered in the state they claim to be located in. If their vehicles are registered out of state and they are claiming to be licensed in the state they are doing work in they are almost assuredly working illegally.

CHOOSE WISELY: When you hire a company that is doing business this way you are endangering not only yourself, but you are harming legitimate, law abiding businesses, their honest employees, and your fellow taxpayers. The rules were meant for everyone and people who chose to work in outside of them should not be rewarded. By supporting your local, legitimate business community, you are ensuring its long term stability and health.

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Andrew Burd

For Gentle Giant Moving Company Founder & CEO Larry O’Toole, one of the greatest parts of his job is hearing from former Giants that not only enjoyed their tenure at GG, but used the experience to further their personal and professional development. Below is a letter sent to Larry a little while back from Andy Burd, a talented young man that spent 5 years with the Giants, that highlights how his time as a mover helped him stand out in a sea of qualified job applicants.

Andy Burd (Bottom Right) stands with his crew after another successful onload.

Dear Larry, 

I have been meaning to write this for some time.  You may or may not remember me, but this is Andy Burd, who worked out of Acton and sometimes Framingham (now Marlborough) seasonally (summers and some winters) for 5 years from ages of 16 to 21.  Now that I have graduated from college and working in Hartford, CT at an investment management firm, I wanted to share with you my nostalgia of working at your exceptional company.

On graduation day after college I was faced with a difficult decision.

Without a job, I seriously entertained the thought of asking to come back to Gentle Giant.  After much thought, I opted not to, because I knew that as soon as I put on that purple shirt that I would quickly forget about seeking the job I had dreamed for, and get caught up in doing what I have come to love: moving furniture.  Having made the decision to part ways, I hit the road looking for jobs.  I won’t bore you with the details, but the journey was long.  However, in personal reflection over those months, I had to find my ‘worth’: what can I bring to a company that few others can?

The answers all came from my time at Gentle Giant.  Working alongside Jay Brooks, Craig Averett and Joe Johnson (among an army of others) during those early years of ‘adulthood’ made me: productive, efficient, dedicated, and humbled.  There is no better feeling than driving home tired as hell knowing that I did everything I possibly could to make a customer’s day better.  Tip or not (some would disagree), I felt no better satisfaction than genuine, sincere praise from a previously skeptical customer that was blown away by Gentle Giant.

While I didn’t have a fancy internship throughout high school or college, the experience of being one of the youngest ever crew chiefs at Gentle Giant and having the opportunity to lead was a formidable experience I won’t see again for many years.

I have been working at my current firm for 10 months and have recently been promoted to a position I don’t think I’m even qualified for, but people have been impressed by a strong work ethic, servant’s heart, and “go get ‘em” attitude that the Gentle Giant culture promotes.  Hurry but don’t rush.  I credit this completely to the culture you have created of an honest, hard day’s work.  Thank you..

- Andy Burd

Since sending this letter, Andy has moved to NYC and now works as an equity analyst at an investment bank. His view on Gentle Giant hasn’t changed at all since the letter and he still credits his GG experience for the success he’s had in his career.

A Former Gentle Giant Mover Sends Praise from and for Seattle

Gentle Giant is lucky to consistently have the best employees and customers. As it happens, sometimes our best customers are former employees. Below is a wonderful letter sent to Gentle Giant Moving Company Founder & CEO Larry O’Toole from Dale Hunter, a former Giant that moved across country with GG’s long distance moving team.

Seattle's favorite attraction, the Gentle Giant truck

Dear Larry,

I recently had the pleasure, with Tom O’Gorman’s extraordinarily kind and caring assistance, of moving back to Seattle with Gentle Giant after a fairly brief return to Boston.  It was, admittedly, strange and more than a little difficult to reverse course after only five months, but I felt it was right and necessary.  Coming back east gave me the clarity I needed to return west, and resume my life here.

What was equally clear was that I could not have done this anywhere near as easily or as happily without the Giants.  I must reserve special thanks and praise for Tom, whom I submit represents the best values and highest virtues of the company like no one else.  I know you must already know this yourself, but it is the sort of thing that can, and should, be said over and over again.  Tom is a unique man, and a great one, about whom I cannot speak highly enough.

Rik Hayes, the furniture moving rock star.

Derek Devries, GG Seattle's Polite Powerhouse

Thanks must also go to Rik Hayes, whom I did not meet, but whom I understand is the very diligent and capable Interstate Driver who got my goods here in full and all safe.  That he is a Scotsman and with an excellent lilt, from what I hear, makes him more estimable still.  Finally, I must praise the quality work done by the local Giant here in Seattle who came to deliver my belongings, and who helped me with the offload.  A very capable, solid, dedicated, and diligent guy by the name of Derek DeVries, he reminded me of all the good people I used to work with on the trucks in Somerville.  You should be happy, Larry, to know that based on my small sampling (with Derek), the spirit that you created at Gentle Giant in Somerville is alive and well here in the Pacific Northwest!

Finally, it has been many years since we were last in touch, but I’m so glad to see that your business continues to thrive, and expand into new markets. It is a concept eminently worth such growth.  The 3-4 years I was with the Giants were a (mostly!) grand and formative time in my professional and personal development after college.  I thank you for them, Larry.  And I hope this missive finds you and your family well.

 All my best,

Dale Hunter