How Gentle Giant Ensures Consistency in our Movers

Over the past several years, Gentle Giant Moving Company‘s Training Department has faced the monumental task of making sure all of the movers we hire across the country uphold the high standards Gentle Giant expects from all of our employees. We owe a big Congratulations to our Training Head Honchos Hunter Gates and Eric Welch for successfully executing GG’s first ever new hiring orientation meeting beamed ‘LIVE’ to new hires in our regional offices.  For one hour, Gentle Giant Founder and CEO Larry O’Toole led a webinar session with 6 new hires from 3 different regional offices yesterday afternoon.   The guys participating in this session were able to hear directly from Larry about the history of GG,  learn about company values & customer service expectations, and take in other related new hire messages.  These sessions will continue to be offered on a regular basis to all new hires across the organization, so that the more Gentle Giant grows, we will more efficiently be able to stay in tune with our core company values.

For all new hires in our Somerville, MA Headquarter, a face to face session with Larry is part of the orientation process, in addition to running the Harvard Stadium.  Each regional office leader has been working with Hunter and Eric to build a similar new hire orientation that also features a ‘Stadium run’ like event at each location.    The live discussion with Larry will become a regular part of this orientation.  It’s a big step forward in our efforts to stay close to all staff in our regional offices.   It connects these Giants back to Somerville, gives each person some face time with Larry, and reinforces the important fact that we are one company with one vision and set of values even if far apart from one another.

A lot of credit for this training’s success goes to Brian Shea and the IT team for their continued fantastic efforts to bring together staff around the country using technology. And a Big Thanks to Ryan Falvey for helping get the word out.

For our customers across the country, we are proud to bring you the best, most consistent service of any moving company out there!

Can Gentle Giant Slate a Date to Create a Great Crate for your Freight?

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!

How Gentle Giant Moving Company in Seattle Chooses Events to Sponsor

When Gentle Giant opened up a branch in Seattle, WA, we instantly got caught up in the vibrant community spirit, the wonderfully diverse people, and the fantastically challenging moves that required our Giants to put their training and skills to the test. Now that Gentle Giant has been in Seattle for over four years, we have a better understanding of what it will take to continue being successful.

For starters, people in Seattle care about quality, not only in the work being done, but in the people performing the work. Gentle Giant has always hired high quality people to do a high quality job, and that has paid off immensely in Seattle. The word of mouth is spreading about us, and we are looking to capitalize on that. Word about Gentle Giant is also getting out because we have attached ourselves to big community events that share our core values.

The Windermere Cup Regatta is a beautiful crew race hosted by the University of Washington, and is sponsored by Windermere Real Estate. Gentle Giant chose to sponsor a Hospitality Tent at the Regatta for several reasons. For starters, the Windermere Cup is a beloved event in the Seattle community. People and their families come from all over to soak up the fun on Lake Washington. In all of Gentle Giant’s regions, we are purposefully selective to find events that bring communities together in a fun way, and the Windermere Cup is no exception.

The Windermere Cup Regatta is also a big win for Gentle Giant because all of Windermere’s Real Estate Agents are present, and they are thrilled that Gentle Giant contributes so much to the event. For us, having strong relationships with Realtors is very important because they have a direct line to people moving, aka potential Gentle Giant customers.

Finally, Windermere Cup is a perfect event for us because of our long time association with the rowing community. Gentle Giant was founded by a rower, Larry O’Toole, and a lot of our company culture is rooted in the same values rowing has. Strength, endurance, synchronization with your team, and a “never quit” mentality.

We look forward to getting involved in even more terrific events in Seattle, and our other regions.

What Makes a Gentle Giant?

When I first started moving furniture back in 1980, I knew a few things. I knew that the moving industry was populated by lugs that didn’t give a broken lampshade about customer service. I knew people always had their guard up around movers, for they were expecting to be taken advantage of. I also knew from my time as a competitive athlete how important the values of teamwork, respect, and hustle were.

I took these few facts and started Gentle Giant, a moving company that I felt could turn the moving industry on its head by hiring well trained athletes who possessed the strength and endurance to give it 110% day in and day out, while also delivering high quality customer service. This formula worked, and with many years of incredibly hard work, word began to spread about Gentle Giant. 32 years later, we are a multi-award winning national moving company with 19 offices in 9 states.

The question remains though, how do we continue growing without losing quality. Better yet, how do we continue growing and increase quality? The answer, like back in the early days, is in the quality of Giants we hire, train, and put in front of our customers. I consider myself one of the luckiest CEO’s around because I don’t have to worry about any of the people Gentle Giant sends out on the trucks.

When we look to hire a Giant, we are not looking for a laborer, but rather a leader. Giants possess strength, integrity, and determination to be a highly contributing member of a fast moving team.

Many current movers at Gentle Giant have been with us for several years, citing workplace satisfaction as a top reason for staying on for so long. We provide a professional and challenging workplace, as well as a valuable set of skills for when an employee moves on to other endeavors.

I say it often, but once a Giant, always a Giant. Do you think you have what it takes to become a Giant? Apply for a job online!

There is a Moving Truck and Movers in my way! What do I do?!

We’ve all been in this jam before. You are running late for work. You get two steps out your front door, only to realize you left your keys inside. You blast back inside the house, look frantically for your keys while keeping a close eye on the clock. Each second that passes means another decibel higher your boss will scream at you.

Found the keys! You sail out the door, sprint to your car. What the heck!?! Why is there a big, dumb moving truck blocking you in!?!?!?!?! To your dismay, permits were put up, and a notice was left on your car, but still, what the darn heck!?!

Because Gentle Giant has been on the receiving end of a few tongue lashings prompted by scenarios just like this one, we have decided to put together a few pointers to help get you (and your vehicle) out of this predicament in the best possible way.

1.) Breathe and realize it could have been worse – To work in cities like Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC, Charlotte, and Providence, professional movers like Gentle Giant have to procure permits for their moving trucks. This means that if our moving truck shows up and there are cars in the permitted spots, we reserve the right to get the car towed. Because Gentle Giant is in the business of relieving stress, not providing it, we take the approach of either working around the car, or calling the police to contact the vehicle’s owner to move it, instead of just having it towed. Just remember, we all have jobs to do, and the movers are not blocking you on purpose, rather we are simply trying to help our clients move.

2.) Check the back of the truck – If a moving truck is blocking you, the best thing you can do is check the back of the truck. At Gentle Giant, we run the boxes and furniture out the truck, so we are constantly going between the house and the truck. When you do see a mover, simply ask if you can get your car out. We are in the service industry, and we live to serve. It is in our nature to bend over backwards to help people. The folks that lay into us with threats and cursing aren’t doing themselves any favors. As the old saying goes, murder us with kindness.

3.) Call the company – If the truck blocking you doesn’t seem to have anybody around it, look at the driver or passenger side door. Licensed and insured companies usually put at least a phone number on the door for circumstances like this one. Get the number, call, and explain the situation. If the company is like Gentle Giant, a dispatcher will then find out who the driver on the job is, then contact them to move the truck. This process usually takes about 5 minutes. At Gentle Giant, if we are blocking a car and will not be at the truck regularly, we leave a note with the driver’s number on the car’s windshield so that this phone call process can be expedited.

If you follow these easy steps, you’ll be unblocked in no time and on your way to work. Also, you now have a terrific excuse for being late :-)

“Giant Innovations” that Changed the Moving Industry – Part 2

As we mentioned the other week, Gentle Giant has been able to secure our place as a moving industry leader by constantly innovating and pushing ourselves to find ways to better satisfy our customers.

One of the most exciting innovations we are putting the final touches on is a Bike Moves Program, which will be kicking into gear (pun alert!) this summer in Boston.

Essentially, the Bike Moves program will allow our customers moving locally in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville to go Green and save a few dollars at the same time.

The Boston Globe on Monday April 23, 2012 reported that Bike Deliveries are the wave of the future, and added this about Gentle Giant:

One of the more unusual adaptations of bicycle delivery is by Gentle Giant Moving Co., which is testing it for people moving into one- or two-bedroom apartments in the same neighborhood. Cargo bikes and trailers, designed to carry up to 500 pounds, will cut the number of expensive, diesel-burning trucks rumbling through the streets, said founder Larry O’Toole.

The company estimates two apartment moves and deliveries of cardboard boxes by bike would save about 10 gallons of diesel fuel a week.

The bicycle experiment costs clients about half the $140-an-hour they would pay for two men in a truck, although it will eventually be about the same price, O’Toole said. Bicycle moves require more people but less time, with each bike taking off as soon as it’s loaded – picking up a couch, taking it to the location, and returning for a new load.

“Until you’ve actually seen it, you would think it’s kind of crazy,’’ said O’Toole, who is trying the concept in Boston before taking it to Gentle Giant’s 19 locations around the country.

If you are interested in learning more about our Bike Moves Program, give us a call at 1-800-442-6863.

How Moving Furniture Can Save Families in Need

Gentle Giant Moving Company has been able to grow consistently over the past three decades by safely and quickly moving every piece of furniture they have ever been faced with. We have moved antique, incredibly fragile pieces, as well as large steel pieces that we could’ve sworn weighed more than a Buick LeSabre. You name it, we’ve moved it successfully. We’ve even moved a Buick LeSabre…

For us, furniture is our livelihood, so we have a certain respect for it (even the furniture that refuses to fit out a doorway). Without furniture, our jobs would be easier, if not unnecessary. Our customers, however, sometimes have a much different relationship with furniture. Either a particular furniture piece will be their most valued possession and will request Gentle Giant treat it like a delicate newborn baby, or they will hate a piece of furniture like it was their arch nemesis and will request Gentle Giant to drop it off the back of the truck while we cruise down the highway.

Of course, we would never do this, but in the past, if ever a customer wants us to “get rid of” a piece of furniture for them, we would take it back to our warehouse and find it a good home. While this worked, it was a long process lacking organization, which is why Gentle Giant New York has teamed up with the Furniture Sharehouse, a fabulous organization that takes unwanted furniture and allows families in need to come “shop” through their Sharehouse, for free.

Gentle Giant recently visited the Furniture Sharehouse in Westchester County, and we were blown away by the volume of different furniture items they have carefully organized and inventoried. We are very happy to start contributing even more to this great organization. Gentle Giant will be communicating with our New York customers, letting them know that any unwanted furniture furniture can easily be donated to a family in dire need of a livable home.

For more information, please visit http://www.furnituresharehouse.org/how-you-can-help

How Your Magnificently Messy Garage Can Benefit You!

In all the years Gentle Giant Moving Company has been relocating people and their families, we have seen some Magnificently Messy Garages. We’re talking about piles of deformed, mildewed boxes with old newspapers haphazardly tossed in them, rusted and busted swingsets stacked on top of jagged treadmill motor parts, and pallets of photo albums from the family that lived in the home four decades ago.

If this sounds like your garage, you could win a FULL Garage Makeover from the fun folks at Simplicity Organizers, Carolina Custom Garages, and Rubbish Works. That’s right, the 2012 Messiest Garage Contest has begun with the intention of Getting Your Garage in Gear!

Charlotte-Metro residents looking to take back their garage with style (for free) can send in a photo of their messy garage along with a note as to why their garage deserves a makeover. Photos will be posted on the 2012 Messiest Garage Contest website and can be voted on from April 27th through May 2nd. The winner will be announced May 7th.

Please visit www.simplicity-organizers.com for official contest rules and details on how to enter to win!

Win or lose, Gentle Giant in Charlotte has never shied away from an intimidatingly messy garage. So if you are looking to move, but are afraid of packing up and organizing your garage, give us a call; we’d love to help. 1-800-442-6863 or Request an Estimate Online.

“Giant Innovations” that Changed the Moving Industry – Part 1

For professional moving companies like Gentle Giant, a big challenge we face is separating ourselves from our competition. Gentle Giant has had success doing this by constantly innovating new ways to make moving safer, quicker, and more efficient.

Since we began moving in 1980, Gentle Giant has been making tweaks and adjustments to the way we execute moves. While some of these innovations were looked at cockeyed when we first rolled them out, several have been adopted across the moving industry as a whole.

Over the next few weeks, we will be diving into the “Giant Innovations” Series, which will identify some of the innovations Gentle Giant has implemented into our business through the years.

To start this series, we want to start with our greatest, and simplest innovation, Customer Service. When Gentle Giant first got into the moving industry, movers had a reputation for being lazy, unapproachable, and careless. Gentle Giant’s Founder and CEO Larry O’Toole took note of this, and committed himself to changing that perception.

When Larry began moving people locally, word spread quickly about this Giant man that showed up on time, ready to work, and wouldn’t leave a job until his customer was 100% satisfied. Because this was such a new approach in the moving industry, Larry and Gentle Giant experienced a large influx of new customers that were tired of being mistreated by uncaring movers.

Gentle Giant’s commitment to unrivaled Customer Service is still a core value throughout the company. This begins during the hiring process, where we look beyond an applicants physical strength and make sure the individual has integrity, as well as a genuine concern for each customer’s most valuable possessions.

Fast Facts About the Moving Industry and Gentle Giant

The moving industry is a dynamic, ever changing landscape filled with amazing companies employing truly innovative techniques to separate themselves from the fierce competition out there. The AMSA, or American Moving and Storage Association, is a remarkable resource for all moving companies passionate about being the best, and they recently posted some interesting facts that really show how big of an industry moving really is.

AMSA reported that America’s moving industry directly employs 122,600 people and contributes $1.2 billion in taxes every year.  The industry generates $16.5 billion in annual revenue and spends $7 billion on equipment, materials, parts and supplies and services needed to conduct business.

$8.9 billion in household earnings and 353,000 jobs can be attributed to the moving and storage industry. With 8,100 companies conducting operations at 17,000 locations, moving and storage businesses stimulate the economy of every state in America.

While 96% of business establishments in the industry are small local businesses that earn less than $10 million annually and account for 72% of all industry jobs, 84% of all industry business establishments are micro-businesses that earn less than $1 million annually and account for 31% of all industry jobs.

The number of industry jobs is 1.6 times greater than the number of jobs in the auto manufacturing industry (2008) and 5.6 times greater than the industry of scheduled air freight transportation.

About Gentle Giant  Moving Company

We have been in business since 1980 serving New England, New York, Virginia, Washington DC, North Carolina, Seattle, and San Francisco.

We move over 12,000 families every year, and that number continues to rise as we expand locally and nationally.

We employ close to 500 people, a lot who have been here for more than 10 years. Gentle Giant is still run by its founder Larry O’Toole, the Original Gentle Giant.

We participate in dozens of activities and charities to support our local community, including the Gentle Giant Charitable Foundation, MoveForHunger, More Than Words, Everybody Wins Power Lunch, Shark Swims, the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center, the Warrior Dash, and the East Cambridge Rib Fest, just to name a few. For more on our charitable work and community outreach, visit our web page at: http://www.gentlegiant.com/moving-companies/charitable-foundation.aspx