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.  

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:


10 Tips for Senior Citizens Downsizing Homes or Moving from Gentle Giant Moving Company


gentle giant moving company

Gentle Giant takes the time to work with seniors during transitional periods.

Moving senior citizens, retirees, and the elderly is emerging as a specialty service as baby-boomers are faced with downsizing themselves while simultaneously transitioning their parents to one of the many types of senior housing.

Below you will find Gentle Giant Moving Company‘s helpful 10 Tips for Moving Seniors:

  1. Start with a floor plan of your new space.
    A floor plan may be the single most important thing you can have.  It will tell you how much furniture you can fit, and help you decide where everything will go before you step foot into your new home.
  2. Reduce the amount you have to move.
    Downsizing can be physically exhausting and emotionally draining, but many items that have been accumulated in a home over many years can’t or shouldn’t be squeezed into a new home.  So take your time and ask for help.  If you have children who no longer live there, ask them to retrieve their possessions.  Give things to friends and family.  Have a yard sale and/or donate some items to charity.  If you can’t bring certain items that you’re not ready to part with, consider using a storage facility.
  3. Begin in areas of the house no longer in use.
    This strategy will be least disruptive to normal life and will help develop some momentum to carry you through other areas of the home later on.
  4. Have a sorting system.
    Use colored stickers to identify items that are going with you, elsewhere, or to-be-determined.  Make a list of potential recipients, such as loved ones or charity or auction, and match up items to them instead of coming up with different recipients as you sort through items one by one.
  5. Start with large items and work toward smaller ones.
    Sorting through large furniture pieces first will create a sense of progress for the person who is moving.  This will make it easier to sort smaller items later on, because it will be clearer what storage will be available in the new home.
  6. Block off a certain amount of time for working each day and stick to it.
    Start and stop at a certain time. Don’t get sidetracked.  You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish.
  7. Focus on one area at a time.
    Dealing with a whole house can be overwhelming.  Break it up into smaller chunks by focusing on one part of a room at a time.  Then move on to the next.
  8. Packing – Let the movers take care of it.
    A professional move coordinator like the ones at Gentle Giant can recommend a professional packing crew to help prepare your dishes, linens, furniture, you name it.  Hiring such a team will make packing go by much faster, and your items will be safer as they are moved.
  9. Create a Move-Day suitcase with the essentials for the first 24 hours in your new home.
    Set aside a couple of outfits, a set of dishes, towels and sheets.  Include a first aid kit and a flashlight, or even a night light.  You’ll have what you need at your finger tips instead of having to dive into many different boxes to find what you need.
  10. Be patient – with yourself and others.
    Moving is hard, especially for seniors who may be leaving a home where they’ve spent decades with their family.  Remember it’s okay to be sad about parting with things, however the goal is not to get rid of everything – just to simplify.  Set aside down time, and reward yourself or the person you are helping at various stages in the process.  Accept that there will be a range of emotions.

Having a Co-Chief on the Job Ensures Every Move Goes Smoothly

By the middle of winter it becomes apparent to everyone at Gentle Giant just how seasonal the moving business can be.  But during these slower times we remember that we’re always building a stronger company.  We often compare this seasonal cycle to the flight of a commercial jet liner.  During the summer we’re in flight at 30,000 ft. and strictly focused on getting jobs done well.  During the winter the plane is on the ground in the hangar, and it’s time to perform the necessary maintenance before the next busy season.

The Giants with another happy customer

This winter, Gentle Giant’s Training Department has worked hard developing a new role that will greatly improve our customer service and operational capacities for the busy summer and beyond.  The new role we’re introducing is called the “Co-Chief.”  The purpose of this role is to be a second in command to the Crew Chief; but even more importantly to support the Crew Chief on successfully executing every important detail that our customers have come to expect.

As a company and service provider, Gentle Giant has always prided itself on delivering the greatest possible moving experience for our customers, guaranteed.  To deliver on this promise, we have always challenged ourselves to grow the types and levels of service that we offer.  In this new age of moving services we are able to provide everything from storage to furniture restoration.  While our skilled Crew Chiefs are focused on making every customer “a customer for life,” and ensuring every job runs smoothly from beginning to end, it’s important for them to know that someone else on their team can share accountability for some of the details and support them in their roll.

The Co-Chief will also be key in making sure our crews hit all the important “Brand Essentials” during the job, including discussing Gentle Giant Restoration, preparing and giving out the Comment Card, and writing the Thank You card.  We are looking forward to beginning this new program because we are confident that this will help develop stronger Crew Chiefs, increase customer satisfaction and retention, and improve our company, top to bottom.

The Best Movers Remove Pesky Stairs From the Equation

Professional Moving Companies like Gentle Giant really mean it when they claim they have seen it all. They have moved every “impossible to move” piece into places that they “will never fit in” under conditions only the most persistent relocation experts could handle.

Sometimes, however, furniture pieces aren’t always the problem. In some of the older houses and apartments we work in, access makes what should be an easy job into an all day and all night grueling endeavor. No matter how hard the movers hustle, the obstacles they face in every small doorway, tight staircase turn, or narrow driveway can add several hours to a job, which in turn gets billed to the customer.

But that’s not right, is it? Heck no! So what do these customers do? Contact Gentle Giant about our Furniture Elevator, also known as the Swift Lift. In the right circumstances we employ this machine to turn a long day of climbing stairs into a quick, efficient move. For an example of this machine in action, please take a look at this funky video!


Moving Yourself? Pack Like the Pros with These Helpful Tips – Part 1

These days, everyone is looking to save a few dollars, and this is especially the case when relocating yourself and your family. Buying a home is expensive enough, so it is no surprise that one of the most common questions we get asked at Gentle Giant is “how can I cut costs during my move?”

The simplest answer is to buy used packing boxes and pack yourself. Although it may seem like a daunting task, we assure you it is not as bad as you think. As long as you give yourself enough time before the move, take it room by room and step by step, packing doesn’t have to be a daunting task.

The first step in a successful pack is using the proper boxes. By familiarizing yourself with the best boxes to use for the various items you’ll be packing, you’ll prevent the boxes bottoms from giving out. Additionally, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by filling an extra large box with heavy books and cans of soup. An extremely heavy box going through your living room floor is a surefire way to lose your security deposit.

The Book Box - 1.5 Cubic Feet of Raw Power!

This adorable little box may be small, but it is not to trifled with. It packs a mean punch by being able to hold up to 65 lbs. of your heaviest books, wine bottles, CD’s or vinyl records, hand tools, canned goods, dry food, kitchen utensils, or any other smaller, heavy items.



The Linen Box – 3.1 Cubic Ft. of Cardboard Boxery!

This medium sized box can take almost anything you can throw at it. If you’re in the mood for packing linens, folded clothes, pots and pans, toys, lampshades, or pillows, this bad boy is the box for you!




The “Large” Linen Box – 4.5 Cubic Ft. of Boxy Goodness

This beautiful box is certainly not your grandparents Large Linen Box! Not for the feint of heart, this box is similar to the 3.1 cubic ft. Linen Box, but is better equipped to handle lighter, bulkier items like linens, folded clothes, blankets, quilts, and pillows. This box can also be used to protect over-sized lampshades.


The Dish Barrel – A 5.2 Cubic Ft. Box that can dish it AND take it!

For years, people have griped that there is simply no perfect box to pack dishes, well now those people can take those gripes, wrap them up in packing paper, and safely pack them in this double corrugated with their dishes, china, glassware, lamps, and other fragile items!



For fans of vintage Gentle Giant, take a look at this great video starring our Director of Sales, Tom O’Gorman, as he walks viewers through the box selection!



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!

“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.