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  

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

Training a Key to Success at Gentle Giant Moving Company

These Giants-in-Training pose after running the entire Harvard Stadium!

This week, four Giants from three different Gentle Giant Moving Company Regional Offices across the country are in our Somerville Headquarters to participate in a two week training workshop.  The goal of this workshop will be to help accelerate the development of technical skills, as well as the communication skills that consistently support Gentle Giant’s goal to interact with customers on a personal level, which will in turn lead to more referrals and repeat business. The idea is that if our employees are enjoying the move, the customers will also enjoy the move. Furthermore, the better the moving experience a customer has, the better chance they remember Gentle Giant next time around.

The participating employees, Mihia Muresan (Washington DC Office), Jean-Marc Tahi (Washington DC Office), Mike Rivers (New York Office), and Toua Chang (Seattle Office), will also be held accountable for taking the knowledge learned back to their respective offices to share it with their fellow employees. It is imperative to our company culture that we are able to provide our customers with a high quality product, which means developing great crew chiefs. This development starts immediately after being hired.

We welcome our fellow Giants to headquarters for this workshop that will help with their development as we move forward to achieving our 10-20 year vision. Click here for more information on what it takes to be a Giant.

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.

With a New Branch Office in New York City, Gentle Giant Moving Company Continues Nationwide Expansion

Gentle Giant Moving Company, an award winning moving and storage company based in Massachusetts with locations in eight additional states across the country, today announced that it has established a central hub for its New York City operations with a new warehouse in Long Island City. Gentle Giant has been serving customers in New York with crews from its Westchester County location since 2006. By opening a New York City office strategically located near key residential neighborhoods, Gentle Giant will be able to bring its high quality moving services to an even larger group of people looking to hire customer service focused professionals.

Local operations and aspects of sales and marketing will be handled by recently-appointed Regional Manager Josh Charry, a highly trained and experienced Giant who has shown exceptional leadership and management skills throughout his years with the company. In the coming months Gentle Giant expects its roster of employees in the region to double so that it can handle the increase in demand that occurs in the beginning of the spring and continues throughout the summer. Since expanding operations outside of New England in 2005, Gentle Giant has continued to grow nationwide, opening an average of one regional office every year, and earning more than a quarter of its revenue from outside the New England market.

“Our two main priorities at Gentle Giant are creating customers for life across the country and providing a superb work environment for our Giants,” said Gentle Giant Founder and CEO Larry O’Toole. “Our New York City location is an exciting opportunity for the company to show a whole new community what makes us special and to enable the company to keep thriving for years to come.”

Approaching its 32nd anniversary, Gentle Giant Moving Company states that pursuing a regional growth strategy by establishing itself in major US cities like New York enables the company to develop its unique interstate moving business line. Unlike the vast majority of interstate movers, Gentle Giant utilizes its own employees exclusively, instead of contracting with other parties for packing, driving, and unloading. Each office location, of which Gentle Giant now has 19 in nine different states, provides a channel for promoting and fulfilling interstate moving services.

By broadening its geographic reach, Gentle Giant hopes to help support their Interstate Moving Operations and continue weathering challenging housing market conditions in New England, where the company has a large share of the market.

 

About Gentle Giant Moving Company, Inc.
Founded in 1980, Massachusetts Moving Company Gentle Giant is a premier residential and commercial mover, offering local moving, interstate moving, and international moving service. Named 2009 Independent Mover of the Year by the American Moving and Storage Association, one of the Boston Business Journal’s Best Places to Work in Massachusetts in 2004, 2005, and 2006, winner of the 2006 International Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics by the Better Business Bureau, winner of the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Excellence in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2008, nine-time winner of Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston,” six-time winner of The Improper Bostonian’s “Boston’s Best Moving Company” award, twelve-time winner of the Angie’s List “Super Service” award, and 2007 Top Small Workplaces award from the Wall Street Journal and Winning Workplaces, the company’s services include craning, piano moving, complete packing services and unpacking services, and other related services. Gentle Giant offers storage facilities and dispatches crews from its 19 offices in California, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, DC and Washington State. For more information, please call (617) 661-3333 or visit www.gentlegiant.com.

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!

 

 

Gentle Giant Interstate Zaps Stress PRIOR to Move

Gentle Giant Interstate knows that, for most people, long distance moving is even more stressful than a local move! The amazing thing is how much our team of Certified Moving Consultants enjoy alleviating anxiety. Let’s face it – moving hundreds or even thousands of miles away is tough. Not only is it something most people don’t do often, it’s fraught with extra challenges. You’ve got:

  • ~job start dates
  • ~being in limbo for longer
  • ~unfamiliar surroundings
  • ~kids in completely new schools
  • ~pets (2000 mile road trip with Fluffy, anyone?)
  • ~booking flights
  • ~dealing with complicated estate situations

 

You name it. And there are tons of horror stories about the Interstate moving industry, so we asked ourselves, How can Gentle Giant be different given that people choose us specifically for crews that deliver consistent results?

There was but one solution: Maintain complete control over the process without outsourcing to non-Gentle Giant personnel.

In other words we chose to be fully Independent (not part of the big “Van Line” networks). That way a lone driver doesn’t have to scrounge around for random labor at the destination. Our drivers are Master Crew Chiefs working in small teams so it’s just us with our usual attention to detail and flair for a job well done. And that’s a great feeling, hiring one company regularly awarded for their quality control and integrity.

A big highlight for our Interstate team is calling people with their exact pickup and delivery dates in advance (which is almost unheard of in the industry)! Our relationships with Interstate customers last much longer than local moves too – sometimes situations can go on for months, with storage and all manner of sometimes dizzyingly complex facets.

So what keeps our team going? That palpable sense of relief heard from the very first call. Every day they hear stress melting away as they review what our customers can confidently expect of Gentle Giant. Sure, there are some pretty complicated logistics, but before the move even happens, people share how happy they are that we’re making the process easy so they have that “one less thing” to worry about amidst all the other balls they’re juggling.

When everything’s finally delivered – beds reassembled, dressers tucked into just the right corner – it really makes everything worthwhile to know that any unease was minimized the whole way through, even before a single box had been packed.

At Gentle Giant, we like to think that helping to ease the apprehension of moving is a small part of making the world function a little better every day.