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!

 

Meet the Giants – New York Regional Manager Josh Charry

Gentle Giant Moving Company

Gentle Giant Moving Company - New York Manager Josh Charry in his Brooklyn Warehouse

When New York moving company Gentle Giant began expanding outside of Westchester County and more into the 5 Boroughs, the company knew they needed to put an individual in charge who was not only an expert mover, crew chief, and leader, but also an individual that knew every neighborhood in New York. While there were several excellent candidates vying for this position, Bronx born Master Crew Chief Josh Charry was the perfect choice given his New York upbringing and several years moving within Gentle Giant’s Westchester County office.

Back in 2008, Charry started his career at Gentle Giant in the company’s Somerville, MA headquarters after seeing a job post seeking athletes looking for fun, challenging work. Charry’s extensive athletic background, which included football, soccer, lacrosse, and college baseball at Quinnipiac University qualified him for the demanding work Gentle Giant expects from our entire Operations team.

Before long, Josh was taking on more responsibility in the company, becoming one of the company’s top Crew Chiefs and leaders. Customers and crews alike loved Josh’s positive attitude, hustle, and attention to detail. During this time in late 2009, Gentle Giant’s New York branch was expanding rapidly and was in need of top Crew Chiefs to run jobs, train new Giants, and continue growing the business. Josh saw this is an opportunity to really make an impact on Gentle Giant and his career, and jumped at the chance to fill this need.

Today, Josh is managing Gentle Giant New York, which has locations in Westchester County, Long Island City, and Brooklyn. This position has Josh in charge of almost every part of the New York moving company which includes hiring, training, and running jobs.

Josh claims that GG New York’s key to success starts at the hiring process. He has an eye for talent, but the nature of moving can quickly weed out the individuals not cut out for the job. Josh’s management and hiring philosophy is resonant of George S Patton himself: “Pressure creates two things; dust and diamonds. At Gentle Giant we sweep away the dust and keep the diamonds.”

To book your move with Josh and his fellow Giants, visit Gentle Giant’s website today!

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.

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Jake Sweeney and Adam Benezra

Of all the incredible things Giants accomplish once they move on from the moving industry, Jake Sweeney and Adam Benezra’s quest to help people successfully quit tobacco with their business, Jake’s Mint Chew, is one of the most impressive and successful of all.

Jake Sweeney (L) and Adam Benezra (R) at a Gentle Giant holiday party.

Today, Jake and Adam are hard at work constantly improving their mint chew business, but they have come a long way since their days working on the trucks at Gentle Giant.

Their story starts when Adam was working at a rival moving company in Boston during the early 90′s. After a short period on their trucks, he realized he was surrounded by ex-convicts and other untrustworthy people, which made him think, “there has got to be a better moving company in Boston with better people.”

A friend told Adam about Gentle Giant, which during that period in the early 90′s was really hitting its stride within Massachusetts because of the focus on hiring honest, hardworking college athletes looking for a challenging but rewarding work. Not long after Adam started at GG in the Spring of 1994, he met Jake, who had started working at Gentle Giant a year before under Bobby Lane, focusing on complicated international moves. Oddly enough, the two attended UMass Amherst at the same time, but didn’t know each other because Jake was busy studying at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture while Adam was busy studying finance and the mating habits of inebriated coeds.

Working together on a few moving jobs around Boston formed Jake and Adam’s friendship, but it wasn’t until they took a road trip down to New Orleans with Eddie Crean, a Giant enjoying his first summer over from Ireland, that their relationship really strengthened.

They remained close even after they left Gentle Giant to start their own businesses. Jake followed in the family greenhouse business and before long was the go to wholesaler of greenhouse products on the North Shore. By 2009, Jake oversaw several greenhouses, including a 10,000 sq ft flagship greenhouse in Beverly. However, tragedy struck in the winter of 2009/10 when an ice storm took out this main greenhouse, which put a nail in the coffin of a business already hit hard by the financial woes the country was suffering from during that time.

Jake's Mint Chew

Down, but not out, Jake decided to depart from the greenhouse business and focus on a venture he had begun thinking about, Jake’s Mint Chew, which was a mint snuff designed to help people addicted to harmful tobacco snuff.

Given his background with the greenhouse, Jake was comfortable focusing on customer service, phone orders, making new flavors, and hiring, but he understood that he needed help with other areas. Realizing this, he called on Adam, his old friend from Gentle Giant, to help him with the website, shipping, payroll, and other financial responsibilities.

The partners recall their first “business meeting” back in 2009 at a local Beverly bar called Fibber McGee’s in which Jake carefully laid out the plan for his mint chew business. Adam instantly saw the product’s potential as a healthy, safe option for people looking to kick their tobacco addiction.

Because the pair had worked together so well during their time at Gentle Giant, they already knew how to motivate and compliment each other on the job. Now embarking on their third year working together at Jake’s Mint Chew, the company has grown exponentially, and expect even further growth now that they are USDA Organic Certified and showing up in more and more Major League Baseball clubhouses.

Jake and Adam look back very fondly at their time moving at Gentle Giant, and still keep in touch with all of the great people they worked with during the early and mid 90′s, some of whom have made a career at GG.

For more information on Jake’s Mint Chew, visit their website at www.jakesmintchew.com and tell them that Gentle Giant sent you!

Moving On; The Gentle Giant Alumni Bios – Blake Evitt

Growing up in Somerville, Blake Evitt was familiar with Gentle Giant Moving Company’s famous purple trucks long before he ever picked up his first sleeper sofa on the job.  It wasn’t until he was home from Davidson College in North Carolina during Christmas break his sophomore year that he applied to start working at the Giant.  “I thought that it would be a good way to stay fit for the upcoming cross-country season,” Evitt explains, “As well as a way to supplement my summer training.”

Evitt was initially intrigued by the fact that Gentle Giant was very different from the typical 9-5 jobs that most of his fellow classmates were applying for.  “The idea of running stairs all day, seeing beautiful houses around the city, and being part of a company with a great vibe around it was very appealing to me,” Blake recalls. “The pay was also pretty good and the possibility to earn lots of overtime and tips was a big incentive as a student.”

Before long, Blake was immersed in Gentle Giant’s company culture and enjoying the camaraderie that developed with his colleagues on the trucks.  Working in a different place every day was also its own perk. “I got to know Boston in a way that I never expected,” Blake says. “It still feels really good when I walk down the street and spot a house that I helped to move.  It was also really cool to see how other people lived and to help them transition to new living arrangements as smoothly as possible.”

On the job, Gentle Giant expects a lot from employees both mentally and physically, so having an athletic background can really help assimilate new hires to the demanding daily activities moving entails. Blake was no exception, for he was a lifelong runner and even ran Division I cross-country and track (800m, 1500m, 3k steeplechase) throughout his four years at Davidson.  While this prepared Blake, he recalls that his first summer “was long, hard, and hot, but also a lot of fun.  I got a lot of hours, made a lot of tips, and really enjoyed the work GG provided. At first, I did feel like the ‘runt’ of the company, because as a distance runner I was definitely one of the smaller guys on the trucks.  By the end of the summer I was a lot more confident with the larger pieces though. I was also about 15 lbs heavier, much to the chagrin of my cross country coach!”

When asked about the toughest piece he ever moved, Blake cites a big oak cabinet in a Boston walk-up that he and his crew had to wrangle down a really tight set of staircases and hallways that “will remain seared into my memory.”  Blake adds that the crew “tried so many manipulations of that thing before we finally got it down that I was really tempted to just leave it stuck upside down halfway through! Luckily, the crew chief kept going and we eventually got it down without leaving a single mark on the walls!”

Blake parkoured his way through Thailand during a recent trip.

As a former Giant, Blake often calls on the practical skills he learned on the trucks. “I learned a ton about packing things that I use all the time now; cars, trucks, closets, boxes, storage rooms.” Additionally, Blake learned a lot of valuable life lessons too, including one that propelled him into his new career. “Don’t be afraid to make the jump into the unknown.  A lot of times you want to wait until the situation is perfect before you commit and that rarely happens.  Things end up working out, usually in ways that you didn’t expect or know about when you ‘jumped’, so you really need to just go for it.”

This makes sense coming from someone helping to lead the launch of Parkour Generations Americas, a subsidiary company of Parkour Generations (based in London) that teaches parkour around the world. For those unfamiliar, parkour is the sport of moving along a route, typically in a city, trying to get around or through various obstacles in the quickest, most efficient manner possible, as by jumping, climbing, or running. “I’m heading up our operations on the East Coast and basing things out of my hometown- right here in Somerville.  Our goal is to eventually offer top-quality parkour instruction and performances throughout North and South America and to help spread the practice and values of the sport.”

Whether it’s for parkour, pleasure, family, pure curiosity, or any combination of those things, Blake travels extensively.  “I love going new places and exploring new cultures.  I’ve been blogging about my parkour adventures for the past 2+ years, but when I’m not bouncing around the globe or off buildings I really enjoy reading, watching films, playing any number of sports, and eating new foods.”

Blake was born and bred in Somerville, but has “been bouncing around the world for the past few years.  He returned home in September ’12 to help lead the launch of Parkour Generations Americas and is “pretty happy to be back in my home turf.”

Are you interested in learning how to parkour safely and effectively? Blake and Parkour Generations Americas are offering classes and workshops. Visit their website here: http://pkgamericas.com/timetableboston