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

Gallery

This gallery contains 9 photos.

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, …

Read More…

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  

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Jake Zoller

Jake Zoller in a rare moment without furniture or a box in his hands

You can gauge the impact a former Giant had on the company by people’s reactions when their name comes up on the trucks or in the office. When the name “Jake Zoller” is mentioned around Gentle Giant Moving Company, everyone’s face lights up as they get ready to share their favorite Jake story. Even those that only worked with Jake once will most certainly have an experience to share. That was the wonderful thing about having Jake as your Crew Chief. Even though his amazing talent as a mover landed him in charge of all the toughest jobs, the Giants on the crew never minded because Jake had a way of making the challenge fun. Oddly enough, Giants would jump at the chance to carry with Jake a 300 pound armoire up four flights of stairs so you could listen to one of his epic anecdotes that blended reality, MAD Magazine, and his wild imagination into one beautifully hilarious yarn.

Like many other Gentle Giant legends, Jake initially found out about the job opportunity at GG through his connections in the rowing community. Additionally, Jake had a friend already working at Gentle Giant that highly recommended the company for several reasons. What attracted Jake the most was the flexible schedule, good pay, and good, hard work.

Jake’s previous experience working on a farm and other manual labor jobs helped prepare him for his initial role as a mover at Gentle Giant, specifically the long hours and heavily physical tasks. His first year at Gentle Giant was spent learning the fundamentals of moving, working with new and experienced people as a cohesive team, and watching experienced Crew Chiefs run the job, manage the crew, and make the customer feel at ease. Jake explains how impressed he was with “these Master Crew Chiefs, like Tom Travers, who were able to seamlessly work hard, keep the mood light, and get the job done.” Jake was a quick learner and was soon among the ranks of these Master Crew Chiefs, running multiple day/truck jobs filled with priceless art, delicate furniture, and whatever else came his way.

Jake’s unparalleled rapport with his customers garnered him one of the best “scores” in Gentle Giant Moving Company history. One multi-repeat VIP customer was so blown away by Jake’s moving talents and positive attitude that when she needed to move from the USA to Israel, she wouldn’t trust anyone else to handle her belongings. This customer paid to fly Jake and his crew from Boston to Israel so that her move. After they executed the move flawlessly, the crew was rewarded by the customer with a 10+ day trip around Israel and Jordan!

Jake loves a challenging hike or move. One tough move in particular included moving several extremely heavy steel balls from an artists home.

After Jake moved on his career at Gentle Giant, a lot of the skills he learned here helped him find success in other fields. Specifically, “the ability to see the bigger picture and follow through while keeping the mood light” helped Jake in his recent stint as a troubleshooter/mechanic/ice road driver in Alaska. These same virtues will also help him as he embarks on his new venture as an apprentice to a ship’s captain on the Arctic Ocean.

Clearly, Jake has an affinity for challenging work that most people wouldn’t dare get involved in, but that is just the type of guy he is. He faces every challenge with an infectious optimism and positivity, and never quits until the job is done. He undoubtedly left an impression on all the people who worked for him at Gentle Giant, as many of Gentle Giant’s current Crew Chief’s exhibit the charisma and hustle that Jake demonstrated every day on the trucks and in the office.

Outside of his adventurous careers, Jake enjoys travelling, running, hiking, exploring, and writing. Always the nomad, Jake currently does not live anywhere specifically. “For the last couple of years I’ve worked a 3 week on/3 week off schedule in Northern Alaska. During my 3 weeks off, I travel to different countries. Right now I have a year off, so I plan to travel.”

This recent excursion brought Jake back to Gentle Giant Headquarters in Somerville, MA, and it was awesome to see him. He is still as hilarious and intense as he was while on the trucks!

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Jeremy Abele

Looking back at the history of Gentle Giant’s employees, there are men and women that helped define what it is to be a Giant; athletic, intelligent, driven, and well, gigantic. Jeremy Abele is one of those individuals that made an impact on our company as a mover, a recruiter, and a salesperson. While Gentle Giant Moving Company considers itself lucky to have had Jeremy for the time we did, it was more than luck that introduced Jeremy to GG. “Growing up in the Boston area it was hard to miss the big purple trucks with giant feet driving around town.  Although, I would say I learned more about the company itself through my contacts in the rowing community.”

Gentle Giant Jeremy Abele

Jeremy Abele competing at the 2011 Henley Royal Rowing Regatta

Since opening in 1980, Gentle Giant has had strong ties to the rowing community and was well known as one of the top employers of rowers in the area. Jeremy submitted a job application after being encouraged by the positive things he heard from friends and teammates who had worked there in the past. He also felt confident that his experience rowing gave him the discipline, strong work ethic, and teamwork mentality to find success at GG.

Thinking back to his first summer as a mover, Jeremy felt it was “both challenging and at the same time extremely fulfilling.  We worked hard each and every day, but we had fun doing it.  Every day was different – a new customer, a new city, a new crew of Giants to work with.” For Jeremy, the people and company culture was his favorite part of working at Gentle Giant. “Everyone I worked with at GG had such a positive attitude.  The company also had a strong sense of unity; it was truly a team environment.”

One person that had a large effect on Jeremy was former Branch Manager and current Regional Trainer Noah Duarte. “Noah had an unbelievable work ethic – he had high standards and expected nothing less than perfection from his crew.  As a rookie mover trying to learn the ropes I recall a few situations where Noah pulled me aside to provide some ‘constructive criticism.’ I remember thinking… ‘I really don’t like this guy…and why does this matter?’ Looking back I can say I learned a lot working with Noah.  There was always a method to his madness…always a lesson to be learned.  On top of being a great teacher (and disciplinarian) – Noah had an undeniable passion for the job.”

Regularly working with top-notch Crew Chiefs like Noah properly prepared Jeremy for the challenging situations he would face on the trucks every day. One particularly difficult job that sticks out was a commercial moving job in Cambridge in the heat of the summer. “We were moving several large – extremely heavy pieces of machinery (including a 20ft steel girder) out of the 4th floor of a building,” Abele recalls. “The building was equipped with an elevator but none of the large pieces would fit. This was a crane/elevator sled job – and due to the size of the objects being moved the GG crew that day consisted of some of the true giants at GG (Steve Hart, Jake Zoller, Ritchie Varela, and Rooty…to name a few). The craning of the pieces was the easy part. The hard part was getting the heavy machinery to the window. Through a combination of dollies, straps, and half a dozen Giants, we were able to carefully roll the pieces to the window and crane them to the truck (the customer was very impressed). Needless to say it was a long, extremely challenging move, but in the end, successful.”

Like many other former Giants, Jeremy learned some valuable lessons during his tenure at Gentle Giant that helped him achieve success in his career post GG. “I had a unique work experience at Gentle Giant as I had the benefit of working in multiple departments; starting out on the trucks as a mover and then transitioning into an office position in recruiting and in sales.  I had the opportunity to work with so many great people.” Jeremy also felt that “regardless of what department I worked in there was a common theme among my GG colleagues – a clear passion for the job and always going above and beyond to make sure the customer is happy.  I carried this with me into my current career and have no doubt that it has been a key driver of my success.”

Jeremy is currently working as a broker/risk consultant for the largest risk management/reinsurance brokerage firm in the world. “Similar to GG, the company I work for has a ‘best in class’ reputation within the industry – and similar to GG’s customers – our clients have very high standards and expect us to deliver day in and day out. I can say without hesitation that the experiences/lessons I learned at GG helped prepare me for a successful career in the corporate world.”

Even though Jeremy is no longer an official recruiter for Gentle Giant, he still regularly recommends Gentle Giant as an excellent place to work.  “Whether you are looking for a summer job, a career or just a stepping stone/launching pad to something else – Gentle Giant can provide you with invaluable experience that can be applied to just about any industry.” Jeremy also advises new Giants to “take full advantage of your time at GG. Whether you plan to pursue a career at GG or move on to something else, the lessons you learn and the experiences you have at GG will stay with you and can be applied to just about any industry.”

If this isn’t enough of a selling point, Jeremy tells potential Gentle Giants that there are often opportunities to “score” items on the job that customers no longer want. These scores can vary from treadmills to air conditioning units to fine furniture. The greatest thing Jeremy ever scored “had to be a solid cherry wood dining room table.  I could not for the life of me figure out why the customer wanted to get rid of it, but I was happy to take it off of their hands. The table needed a little work so I took it over to Gentle Giant Restoration and together we turned it into a beautiful piece of work.  The table stills sits in my dining room today – and I have received numerous compliments from friends and family.”

The table is with Jeremy in Philadelphia, where he lives with his lovely wife, two daughters, and two dogs.  He enjoys spending time with family and friends.  He is also still actively involved in the sport of rowing and competes in regattas throughout the northeast.

Meet the Giants: Southern New England Regional Manager Tim Inman

Tim Inman takes a rare break from running boxes and furniture to pose for a photo.

Tim Inman, Gentle Giant Moving Company’s current Southern New England Regional Manager, is a man with moving in his soul. Born into a family of movers, Tim started excelling in the relocation arts at an early age as he worked closely with his father and brother Pat Inman (Gentle Giant’s current Director of Operations) at their family owned moving company starting in 1984. After Tim and Pat sold the business in 1997, Gentle Giant Founder Larry O’Toole jumped at the chance to recruit these master movers.

At first, Tim was immediately impressed by how smoothly such a rapidly expanding local and long distance moving company functioned every day. Additionally, Tim felt that “the teamwork the movers displayed, as well as Gentle Giant’s commitment to individual growth” truly separated them from every other moving company he had known throughout his career in the industry. Tim even recalls a poignant situation in which his crew was tasked with moving a difficult piece on a job within his first year at GG. “I never knew they made an Olympic-sized Jacuzzi! At first I wasn’t even sure it was possible to move, but the experienced crew I was with thought nothing of it. We wound up putting it on its side on a dolly, moving it carefully over a trail of Masonite to the truck. At that moment I knew I was working at a company of talented people that never shy away from a challenge.”

After having several situations like this, where he was continuously impressed with everyone he met at Gentle Giant (both on the trucks and in the office); Tim felt that GG was a place he could make a career at. What it boiled down to was “the people I was working with, the pride I felt after a job well done, the advancement opportunities, and the company culture made me want to stay and contribute” explains Tim.

Throughout his career at Gentle Giant, Tim has managed several branch offices throughout Massachusetts, and has hit a stride in his current role as Southern New England Regional Manager, which has him mentoring up and coming managers looking to seize opportunities with Gentle Giant in New England and across the country. By joining the company in the mid-late 90’s, Tim has been able to witness and support the tremendous growth Gentle Giant has undergone. Tim feels that secret to the company’s success has always been “absolute commitment to customer service and having co-workers that expect the best from you, every day.”

tim and crew

Tim (center) and his crew with another satisfied Gentle Giant customer after a job well done.

To this day, Tim is always on the lookout for new talent that can positively impact the Gentle Giant team, and has personally recruited many of GG’s top movers. However, before these recruits come in for an interview, Tim is always sure to give them a realistic idea of what working at Gentle Giant is really like, for he understands that other moving companies do not expect their movers to run, be on time, live a healthy lifestyle, and be a consummate professional.

Tim lives in Worcester, MA and lists his hobbies, interests, and passions as his children (Charlie, Johnny, Emily, and Isabella), hiking, ATVs, and the Boston Bruins.

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Carson Duarte

Shortly after graduating from Boston University in 1999, Carson Converse found herself rowing at Riverside Boat Club, living with Gentle Giant Moving Company employees, and in need of a job. Carson’s roommates encouraged her to apply to Gentle Giant, but she resisted initially because she felt her 5’5 frame was not “Giant” enough to handle the physically demanding aspects required to move furniture on GG’s level. Once her roommates successfully convinced her that her years of rowing and training made her just as strong as any taller Giant, she agreed to interview with Gentle Giant’s Director of Human Resources David Lister, who was thrilled to hire her to work on the trucks.

Carson was all smiles during her time at Gentle Giant Moving Company

Speaking to Carson now, almost 10 years out of the moving industry, she still chuckles while reminiscing about the first job she was on. After completing an extensive training beforehand, she spent a day packing a customer’s house to make sure it was ready for the big move the following day. Little did she know this particular move day would be an 18 hour ordeal that took her up to New Hampshire and back. As she rode her bike back to her home at 2 in the morning after the job, she reflected not on how physically tired she was, but how impressed she was by her Crew Chief that day, the legendary Steve Hart. One of Gentle Giant’s finest Crew Chiefs, Steve had a calm, assertive approach to running a job that showed Carson exactly what it took to take charge and complete a seemingly monumental task, all while laughing and making the crew and customer feel comfortable and engaged.

This is one of the most important lessons that Carson learned while working at GG. While anyone that knows Carson now will find this hard to believe, but she claims that when she first started, she was really shy. However, the combination of working with such charismatic people and the customer-facing nature of the job forced her out of her shell. As she felt more comfortable on the job, with coworkers, and with customers, Carson took on more responsibility at the company and became a Crew Chief.

As a Crew Chief, Carson enjoyed the experience of showing up at the job each morning to see the look on customers faces that read, “This is the ‘Giant’ I hired? How is this petite woman going to muscle my sleeper sofa up four flights of stairs?” This disbelief was soon erased after they saw the strength, hustle, and command Carson displayed as the leader of a well oiled moving machine. One valuable  lesson she learned and then preached at Gentle Giant was “never judge a book by its cover” because “everyone has something to teach.”

Looking back, one of the reasons Carson chose to work for Gentle Giant at this time in her life was the flexibility the job afforded her to pursue her many interests.  It has always been Gentle Giant policy to support employees, which includes allowing movers to take extended time off from work

Carson's husband, longtime Gentle Giant Manager and Trainer Noah Duarte, takes their pup Flynn out for a ride along in the truck.

whenever it is needed with the promise of a job to come back to.  During her tenure, Carson took advantage of this benefit to pursue rowing and traveling, which included several road trips around the US, backpacking in Utah and Costa Rica, two trips to Baja, Mexico, Henley England, New Zealand, and Israel.

After leaving Gentle Giant, Carson attended graduate school at New England School of Art and Design to get a degree in interior design. Once she graduated, Carson went to work in hospitality design, and now focuses specifically on hotels and restaurants. She still relies on the spacial awareness she honed while working at Gentle Giant. “In my work now, it’s important for me to see in my head how furniture will fit in a spot before it is moved there. This saves a tremendous amount of time.”

Today, Carson lives with her husband and longtime Gentle Giant manager and trainer Noah Duarte in Charlemont, MA with their adorable pup Flynn.

A Moving letter from a Mover about Gentle Giant Moving Company

Larry O’Toole, Gentle Giant Founder and CEO

From Larry to You:

We are all very proud of our culture here at Gentle Giant Moving Company, but sometimes as we brag about it we worry “does it really live up to what we’re saying?” We have to be humble and remember that our culture is something that is fragile and could easily be broken or lost.

Eric Jones is a good friend of mine from Andover, MA who has started a wonderful moving company, Adamantine Moving, in Iowa City, Iowa. We have worked with him on a number of interstate moves and he has always loved working with the Giants. Recently he spent two weeks working on the trucks with our movers in Somerville, MA and observing our office staff at work. After his time here he sent a wonderful letter which is heartening to read because it validates that we are succeeding in our quest to build and protect our company culture. Please enjoy Eric’s note below:

 

May 2013

Hi Larry,

Just wanted to write and thank you again for letting me join Gentle Giant for a week and work alongside your guys. I can’t tell you how valuable and fulfilling the experience was for me – I came out of the week tired and sore (next time I need to train for those Harvard stadium runs), but absolutely recharged and excited for the busy season.

I’ve been struggling for the last few years, in typical mid-life crisis fashion, about whether I should stick with moving or try to do something else. There’s lots I like about my job – the teamwork, the pleasure of working hard physically and getting a lot done in a single day, the excitement of adapting to challenges as they come at you, the feeling of self-sufficiency you get from laughing in the face of grimly long days and (occasionally) even longer nights.

The Giants enjoying a nice day of moving in Weston, MA

But it’s also easy for me to feel less than enthusiastic about yet another day on the trucks, moving another two bedroom house across town. ‘Is this what I was meant to do with my life?’ I sometimes think in my darker moments. ‘Moving couches through doorways and getting covered in cat hair?’ At times it feels as though I’ve traveled a long way down a railroad siding that I wasn’t even supposed to be on in the first place; the switch got flipped the wrong way back at some junction eleven years ago, and now here I am, a household mover. Not a bad thing, necessarily, just surprising and strange.

At any rate, that’s where my head’s been the last few years. I mention this just to give you a sense of what it meant for me to come and visit Gentle Giant. I told a number of people at GG, maybe you included, that our little moving business here in Iowa is like a fort in the woods, while Gentle Giant is like a mansion or a 27-story apartment building. Wouldn’t anyone who’s lived for years in a fort love to have a chance to check out a mansion?

The metaphor is apt not just because GG is so much bigger and more sophisticated than we are. We’ve built our little fort almost entirely on our own. We had no prior experience with the moving industry (I’d never even wrapped a chair when I was hired to do my first job!) and to this day we still have almost no real knowledge about how other moving companies work. So coming to spend time at Gentle Giant was a lot like coming out of the woods, out of the wilderness. It was a chance for me to learn a lot, to see what great solutions a whole bunch of smart and dedicated people can come up with to some of the same problems we’ve been trying to solve all on our own for a decade, and, most important, it was an opportunity for me to connect with a company in the industry I admire a ton. I feel a whole lot less isolated in the work I do here in Iowa because of my visit, and I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for that gift.

Gentle Giant works hard and always has a great attitude!

There was lots that impressed me about Gentle Giant. Your people are really, really smart. The systems you have are super slick – I watched Shane Thompson do five long distance estimates in the time it would have taken me to do one, and with far more accuracy and skill than I could ever hope to achieve. Your crew leaders care as much about doing a great job as any highly paid lawyer or doctor I’ve met. Your movers run, really do run, from the start of a job to the end, even when the job goes to thirteen hours. Not only that, but they actually seem to enjoy it! (Needless to say, I felt humbled in their presence).

But the thing that impressed me most about my visit was the fact that every single person I met at Gentle Giant, every crew leader, every mover, every manager, every salesperson, received me with warmth, openness, and generosity. Most of them had no idea who I was, or simply assumed I was a new hire they hadn’t yet met. Maybe more than anything else, I think that should make you proud of the community you’ve helped create. Good for you; and good for all the people who’ve worked to build a place where kindness and openness is the norm. Especially now, especially in Boston, that kind of kindness really matters.

In my opinion, Gentle Giant is a great company not just because your people are great at what they do. It’s a great company because your people are good, and I mean that in the old-fashioned moral sense. Good in the sense of being great without acting better than. Good in the sense of looking out for each other. And good in the sense of really welcoming some guy from Iowa who’s crazy enough to take a vacation from moving by doing some more moving . What a gift to be welcomed like that. Hope I can someday return the favor. Thanks again Larry.

All the best,

Eric Jones

Gentle Giant Moving Company and Their Intense Warehouse Gym

At Gentle Giant Moving Company, health and fitness is a top priority, which is why the industry leader has dedicated space in their warehouse to build a full gym for Operations and Office staff.

Employees of the Boston moving company can work out with professional trainer John Zimmer to perfect form, increase strength, and maximize endurance, which is one way Gentle Giant decreases the chance of workplace injuries and promotes healthy living on and off the job.

This fun video gives you a peak inside Gentle Giant’s training center and how this incredible gym came to be at Gentle Giant Headquarters in Boston. Enjoy!