"The Cadillac Movers": Firpo - Heritage Moving & Storage

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An indepth look into the moving business, Samuel Imburgia's Family company and the harsh world of manual labor. Paul C. Imburgia Photojournalism Temple University

Transcript of "The Cadillac Movers": Firpo - Heritage Moving & Storage

  • Written, Arranged, Photographed, and Compiled by Paul C. Imburgia

  • All rights reserved to Paul C. Imburgia, Temple Unviersity

    Department of Journalism

    Philadelphia, PA

    The Best Edition

    Published by A Miserable White Boy Books 2012

  • For

    &Uncle Sal, Uncle John, my Father Samuel, Uncle Paul, Aunt Mary, Uncle Mike and the rest of the Imburgia Family, Every hard-working man and woman at Heritage & Firpo Moving Systems and all men and women who make an honest living working in manual labor...

    and lasty to Jessica, who passed away shortly after this coverage was conducted.

    May She Rest in Peace.

    Paul H. Imburgia for his authorization, all his caring, all of his

    valuable time and assitance.

  • TTableableContents

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  • INTRO ... 6HISTORY ... 10WAREHOUSE ... 20LOT, DOCK & TRUCKS ... 36

    GARAGE ... 58OFFICE ... 66 WORKERS ... 84ON THE MOVE ... 92

    INTRO ... 6HISTORY ... 10WAREHOUSE ... 20LOT, DOCK & TRUCKS ... 36

    GARAGE ... 58OFFICE ... 66 WORKERS ... 84ON THE MOVE ... 92

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  • 7IIntrontro

  • 8T he Cadillac Movers Thats a phrase that was often used to refer to the workers at Heritage & Firpo Moving Systems. The men and women of the Heritage and Firpo companies were so reknowned for their skills that they were given this nickname. They were the best that there was. They were like no other.

    Blood Sweat and Tears. Thats another phrase. Its a phrase thats often thrown around in an attempt to express hardships, endurance and success. But how many of those that use this expression can actually provide the evidence to make it a legitimate claim. Few. Very few.

    Heritage-Firpo Moving Systems renowned service dates all the way back to Marcus Hook, PA during the 1930s. Samuel Imburgia, my great grandfather had made his mark on the town through his boxing career. Nicknamed, Firpo, after the professional boxer Luiz Firpo, Samuel Imburgia had become well known throughout Delaware County, in places like Chester and Aston.

    After his days of fighting Samuel Imburgia joined the Marcus Hook Police Force, but still the name Firpo stuck with him. Samuel Imburgia was so well known from his boxing days that people referred to him as Firpo more than they did Samuel or just simply, Imburgia. And so when Samuel Imburgia started the moving business, it suited him better to name it Firpo & Sons rather than Imburgia & Sons.

    The name Imburgia is as complicated as last names get; trust me I know. Using his nickname Firpo worked to Samuels advantage as he was more easily

    recognized throughout the community. Business caught wind and the company grew to the state that it is today.

    There is no greater test to a familys strength than being business partners with one another. The company was passed on from Samuel Imburgia to his sons, John, Sal, Lawrence, Harry and Paul (my Grandfather). It was from that point on that Firpos was run as a family business. Generation after the next, the company grew to an international jurisdiction. And today it is my Father, Aunt and Uncle that look to my cousins and siblings as their successors (just like their father and uncles did before them).

    My cousin and I, both close in age are the eldest and ideally would be expected to take the business just as our fathers did.

    I grew up working in the yard and moving furniture with my father, Samuel Imburgia (Samuel Firpo Imburgias namesake). I was raised right into steel-toed work boots and Ive seen much of what the moving business is today. From its satisfying rewards to the bitter end of fatigues wrath, Ive come to apply everything I learned from working in manual labor to what I pursue today.

    Theres something very unique about working with the same people you see at Christmas time, the same people you say, goodnight and I love you, to. Theres compassion, tension and quite a bit of vulnerability. Us Imburgias, we often take care of our own. Working together for so has surely formed incredible bonds between us and because of that we operate like no other: honestly and efficiently. Though we may not be thrilled about seeing each other every day of the week I think theres a learned mentality that each of us possesses that allows us to function the way we do. Whats most important about the business is that this mentality that we retain as a family carries on to all the other workers in the company. They learn to think and work like we have been all these years, yet they arent our relatives. Theyre the ones that give 110%

  • 9because they love what they do not because they were born into it. The men and women of Heritage - Firpo Moving systems are capable of things that shouldnt be possible when it comes to moving furniture. I do not hesitate to say that the world of Manual Labor as a whole could learn a lot from the employees here at Heritage - Firpo.

    Every day, as the company that Samuel Imburgia, his sons, and the sons of his sons have built up from the ground continues to grow, the lower-level helpers, packers and truck drivers are the ones keeping the business healthy. Like many modern businesses, Heritage- Firpo is built on a bureaucratic system. But when it comes to doing the actual work, every single person in the business knows to pull his or her own weight. Its like a ships crew; each person fulfills an essential role in order to keep things operational in the larger picture. No one is a grunt, no one is a gopher, every man and woman is expected to complete their daily tasks in order for the next to do the same. And to those who cannot hold to their responsibilities, they are quickly eliminated. Its a brutal grindstone, its a synchronized dance; its a finely built machine that has been running for decades because the people who run it possess more than just physical know-how, they possess passion for their work. I know how incredibly cheesy that sounds, but in no way is this even remotely cheesy or clich. Theres no other kind of laborer that exists to exceed the caliber of those at Heritage-Firpo.

    This is why Ive composed this book the way I have, to let these workers tell their tales, to show the world the great triumphs of Heritage-Firpo Moving systems. Each person I interviewed was asked to give their job description and list of abilities that they possess in order to do their job. They are the backbone of the industry; they are the dirty, sweaty bruised and battered members of the Justice League. Without the people Heritage-Firpo, down to their

    very muscle fibers, none of the accomplishments that Samuel Firpo Imburgia set out to achieve could have even been remotely attainable.

    This will be my only written contribution to this book. Heres what Heritage-Firpo Moving Systems truly is, as told through the workers themselves...

    - Paul C. Imburgia, Author

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    HHistoryistory

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    istoryistory

  • JohnMy name is John Imburgia. My Father, when he was a young man he used to be a club fighter. In Marcus Hook and Chester he used to box, there used to be a professional boxer by the name of Luiz Firpo, and my Father was a fairly good fighter and he got the nickname of Firpo.

    Could you please tell me about your father and how the business got started?

    After he was a fighter he became a cop on the Marcus Hook Police Force. I dont know how long he worked there but what he did was before he turned toward the moving business he collected junk in Marcus Hook, that was his job. But I think after a couple of years he lost a contract and thats when he went into the moving business under Firpos Moving and Storage Company. He used that name because he was well known by that name.

    We lived on West 8th Street and when we were young kids we really didnt get involved with my Father much. I must have been at least 11 or 12 years old and I remember that my Father had one truck and one guy working for him and he used to park the truck in the back of the house. I remember coming home from school and my mother used to give me a dime and said, Heres 10 cents, catch a bus, your Fathers up on such-and-such. Go up there he wants you to help him out.

    I think as the years went on we got working on and off the truck from ages 12 to 13 to 14, during the summer time. Sal and I and my Father would work with the men and he used to send me on the truck to collect the money from the customer. I used to help the guys, collect the money and bring it home to my Father.

    By the time I was in the 9th grade and Sal was in the 8th, we were pretty much involved in the moving business as far as working. We worked all summer and we worked on the weekends. I remember one summer my Father had one guy working for him and he laid him off, so we worked all summer just the three of us, my Father, Sal and myself.

    As we got older and got going through high school, by the time we were in 10th grade, we were pretty much professional movers by then. Eventually my Father got another truck, hired some more people and then he started backing off a little bit as us kids got older. And then when my brother Paul came along then everybody started getting involved in the business as it grew.

    He started backing off but he was still in charge of the operation, we were just basic laborers. He did all the money, the paying the buying and everything like that. You have to realize something about my Father, my Father he was a kind of a no thrill guy. He was strictly all business and he was a tough guy to work for.

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    What were all of the job positions that you held when you worked for the business?

    Well being a young kid, the only duty I had was getting on the truck, going down and doing the work, collecting the money and bringing it home to my Dad. As I grew older I had to do a lot of the estimating because my brother Paul was in the office, my brother Sal was working on the trucks. We had only about three or four trucks and about six or seven guys working. I went in and did all the packing. My brother Sal and I used to do all the long-distance trips, we never sent men over the road. If something that had to go to Pittsburgh or to the shore or New York it was either my brother Sal or myself that ran the trip. And that pretty much stayed that way until I left.

    Whats a common misconception people have about the moving business?

    I guess in those days it was a more relaxed and easy time because everybody was in the same boat. There wasnt an upper class and a lower class, there was just a basic class and everybody was working and everybody that was working had the same attitude and the same jobs.

    Today you go to some house and the people youre moving think theyre above you because theyre paying you to do a job. Like youre just on a lower step, like youre just moving furniture, thats a skill youve got, youre a dummy.

    They just look down on you. But years ago when I was working, everybody had the same attitude, there wasnt a division in the workforce. Because those guys who were working and us guys who were working were all doing labor jobs. Today we have a different class of people, some class of people think theyre above and better than other classes. I learned that as I got closer to the end of working in the moving business.

    W. 8th St, Marcus Hook, PA

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    PaulPaul H. Imburgia. Ive been retired for close to ten years now.

    Tell me about your father and the business, how exactly did it all start?

    Well he started back in the 20s. First, he had a junk yard with a couple old shops. He did blacksmith stuff and all that. Then had a truck that he was using to haul barrels for a place in Marcus Hook called Knabbs Barrel House. They made wood barrels at that time and he used to haul these barrels in this truck that he purchased, and from there he started to do moving on the side. The Public Utility Commission in Pennsylvania had come into effect and he had to apply to get the authority to move these barrels. But his franchise that he got was so broad, it just said that he could haul anything. So he not only could haul barrels he could haul furniture, he could haul flowers, he could haul this and that and whatever!

    In those days, in the 20s, everything wasnt as lawed. There were no laws in them days, it was wide open. So in 1930, I always say, he got established. My brother Jon was born in 1932, my brother Sal was born in 1933, my sister Theresa was born in 1934, I was born in 1936 and my sister Angie was born in 1937. So he started the business when I was young and when I was 12 I was working with my father. By the time I was 14 I was driving the truck. We werent required to work there we just worked, thats what you did in those days. My Father would only pay me two dollars a week and if I borrowed

    50 cents he took it out of my pay too! You learned responsibility.

    I used to go to grammar school and when hed come home to eat lunch I used to jumbo in the back of the truck and hide. An then when hed get back on the job hed find me there. Then hed give me a whippin and then put me to work. That was when I was in 6th grade. So thats how long Ive been there.

    And in 1988 I left Firpos and my brother Sal and I started Heritage. And then in the early 2000s my two other brothers were still Firpos and they sold out to some guy by the name of Lafferty. He had it for two years and he ran it into the ground and went bankrupt.

    I worked in the office for my Father and when we went to Heritage I did all the corporate stuff. I knew all the corporate accounts. I had all my friends in the corporate world and I went to them to get started and they gave me a lot of work! Thats how Heritage got started.

    My Brother Sal and I bought this company before we left from Firpos. It used to be called Winters Moving and Storage, in Media. Thats how we got Heritage because we bought Winters and we kept the Winters name. They only had two little trucks and it was an old woman with her son and they just gave up on the moving business. When she found out that we bought it she was happy as hell. She knew that we knew what we were doing. Then my sons

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    Samuel and Paul and brother Sal picked the name Heritage. We had used Heritage as a second name, we kept the name Winters because when you buy a company as good as that you dont throw the name away. And then eventually Heritage took over Winters and people found out that the people running Heritage were the same people that ran Firpos so things went on from there.

    What was it like working for the company as an Imburgia?

    I never considered my name Imburgia. My name, legally, on any papers I had signed was Firpo, I never used Imburgia. All the contracts I signed, all the bank loans I signed read Paul Firpo. At one time I was gonna change my name to Firpo, if you called me Imburgia, I never turned around I wouldnt know who the hell it was. And it was the same way with my Father, no one called him Imburgia, it was always Firpo. No body knew our last name was Imburgia.

    What was it like working with your family?

    Hard, very hard. Very difficult. But my brother Sal and I had a very, very good relationship. We had conflicts, but when we had conflicts it went no further than the conversation. If we got into a big argument or we disagreed on something, as soon as it was over it was over. It wasnt there anymore.

    Wherever he went I went. Whenever he went to go buy a truck he asked me to go with him and when I wanted to go somewhere I told him to come with me. We had an excellent relationship. I had total trust with him. Thats what really created Heritage.

    What kind of skills and abilities did you have that helped you do your job efficiently?

    I loved what I was doing. And that was the secret. Plus the fact of how young I was when I got in the moving business. I knew more than anybody out there. I was hands on. Even though I was in sales, I was there, there wasnt anything I didnt do. So when somebody needed something, I had already done it or I knew how to do it. I knew everything.

    There was a famous answer I used to tell people. Id say, If I cant answer your question, no body can. I had corporate people calling me on the phone asking me to make a decision. I was top in making the decisions, even top in my profession.

    But I dont take all this credit because I had a good relationship with my brother, I had somebody to back me up! When I wasnt there I knew I had a brother there.

    How did Heritage and Firpo affect the community?

    As far as Heritage and Firpo in the community, everybody knew us. My Father is in the boxing hall of fame. Everybody, my Father knew everybody. He was also a policeman for eight years. He knew everybody and everybody knew him. We were synonymous with the area. At one time we were number 20 on the Eastern Seaboard Interstate Commerce ratings. And thats because, when I was 17, the head of the Interstate Commerce Commission came down to our office to audit. And he and my father became very good friends.

    Samuel Firpo Imburgia

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    We had some good contacts. And one of the things that made us different from other moving companies is that we had a lot of integrity.

    How has the business changed since its start in the 1930s?

    Number one, weve grown. Today theyre doing good, very good. We were the largest moving company in Delaware County and Chester County

    How have your duties and responsibilities to the company changed since you started working there?

    Well, as my sons, daughter and brother took more and more responsibility it was a matter of giving good advice and staying in the background. And thats the way it should be. If something went wrong I always tried to intercede to see what the problem was and try to correct it or work out a solution.

    What did you expect of your coworkers for you to be able to do your job efficiently?

    I only expected my guys to do their jobs. We treated all of our men well. I treated those guys as I would anybody because I knew a lot of them. A lot of them had a high school education. A lot of them were married and some of them had children. They werent in the top percentile in education but they were good workers. And we rewarded them for that, to make them feel like they were a part of the company. And in the same turn if they did something I didnt like, I was on them. We were very fair and we appreciated what they did.

    We used to run two greyhound buses to the casino every year for all of our workers. And not only did we do that, we gave every one of them 20 dollars, including their wives, and the best deal like a free meal or 30 dollars in slot play. And the

    guys loved it. I think my son Paul (CEO) had a picnic for them this year. Ysee thats what you do to show your appreciation. When your men are good you treat them with respect and in return theyll respect you.

    Where would you like to see the company go from here?

    Before my grandchildren were born, I wanted to be a van lines. We were the top carrier for five different van lines when we joined them and I was making connections up and down the Eastern Seaboard, so that eventually we could have offices in every state, everything east of the Mississippi. And what happened is my two younger brothers werent as ambitious as I was, so it kinda got squashed. I had the opportunity to buy a moving company down in Florida so I was going to send my sons Paul and Sam and my brother Sal down to Florida, to run the company down there. But like I said it got squashed. That was my ambition. Their ambitions were different.

    When you would hire your workers, what would you want or what would you expect them to be able to do? What skills and abilities do people need to be in the moving business?

    When we hire somebody, all we were looking for was a good worker, somebody that wasnt an idiot, somebody that was truthful. And if they were a good worker and were truthful we would let them advance as far as they could advance. We had a kid that worked for us, he worked for us three years before we found out that he couldnt read! Three years he worked for us before we found out because he was a damn good worker. So there was no reason to fire him or get rid of him, we just made sure that we sent someone that knew how to read with him. You adjust and you move on, but you dont get rid of somebody because they have a disability.

    What part of Heritage and Firpo are you most passionate about? What did you like most about being in the business?

    I just liked what I was doing. I just enjoyed it. I wasnt in an office. Everyday was different. I always had new challenges. And my ability to move on was up to me, it wasnt limited by some ding-a-ling in a higher office saying, I like this guy better than this guy. The sad part about the corporate world is that everybody wants your job. They dont care how good you are, theres somebody that wants your job and somebody thats gonna say, Im better than him. When I grew up if you gave your best to a corporation they took care of you, today theres no allegiance from the corporation. No obligation. If they think they got everything out of you then they let you go. Youd have to always be looking over your shoulder. Where I worked, I didnt have to look over my shoulder. I didnt have anybody that wanted to take my job, (laughter) everybody was hoping that Id do their job!

    What would you say having to look back on all the time that youve spent with Heritage-Firpo?

    I never looked at Heritage and Firpos as work. I enjoyed going to work.

    You know what they used to call us? They used to call us, The Cadillac Movers. Were were the ultimate, the best that you could get. People used to change their settlement dates so that they could get us to move them. They would actually wait five days to two weeks! We used to schedule as far as six weeks in advance. Thats why we moved all the sports figures. All the football people, all the broadcast people, we used to get the first call. Thats how popular we were.

    Some Mover Terminology

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    Some Mover TerminologySome Mover Terminologycarpet-wrap: noun. Material used to protect a customers carpet during the

    moving process.

    CDL: noun. An acronym for Commercial Drivers License.

    crew: noun. A group of around four to six helpers and one leader.

    dispatcher: noun. One who assigns moving jobs to crews.

    dodge: verb. To avoid large and/or heavy pieces of furniture.

    driver: noun. One who drives the truck to and from moving location(s).

    estimates: noun. Approximations of a moving jobs price, time and effort, often conducted prior to the job.

    grab and go: A phrase referring to a fast-paced efficient method of moving furniture.

    grunt-work: noun. Tasks that are often difficult and/or trivial and/or undesirable.

    pack: verb. To carefully stow away a cus-tomers belongings, whether it be in a box

    or in the actual moving truck.

    packer: noun. One who carefully puts a customers belongings into carboard con-tainers.

    pad: verb. To apply moving-pads to a piece of furniture in order to protect it from

    any damage during the moving process.

    paperwork: noun. The necessary docu-mentation needed for the moving pro-cess. This includes, inventory sheets, maps, contracts, etc.

    piece: noun. Another name for furniture. Refers to a piece of furniture.

    prep: verb. To take necessary and cau-tionary measures to prepare the custom-

    ers home(s) for the moving process.

    pre-trip: noun. The necessary, regulatory and cautionary measures of checking to see if a moving truck is able to be driven on the road and haul a customers be-longings.

    helper: noun. One who assists with labor during the moving process. Also referred to

    as a mover or laborer.

    hustle: verb. To work quickly, effectively and efficiently during the moving process.

    lead: verb. To retain authority of a crew, such as: giving instructions, advice and as-sistance to the helpers.

    leader: noun. One who leads a crew.

    long-distance: adjective. When a crew is conducting a move out of the local area, out of state, our of the region or out

    of the country.

    make it happen: A phrase referring to the ability to be clever, innovative and

    impressive during the moving process.

    walkthrough: noun. When a customer gives a leader a tour of his or her home explaining what belongings of his or hers will be getting packed.

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    WWarehousearehouseTheThe

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    JimMy name is Jim, Ive been working here for 21 years and Ive moved a lot of people, seen a lot of crazy stuff.

    What position do you work in at Heritage-Firpo?

    I mainly work in the warehouse, when peoples furniture comes into the warehouse I pack it into containers and all that stuff. I wrap up your sofas, your couches, your chairs.

    How long have you worked in the warehouse?

    About 10 to 15 years.

    Have you held any other positions?

    Well I go out on the trucks when I need to. I more or less do whatever they need me to do.

    Whats your experience like on a day to day basis?

    You never know what youre gonna get. You might think its slow. You might be slow until 3 oclock and then you get the call to go help somebody and end up working until 10 oclock at night. You never know. In the morning I come in and I get a list of what truck needs what equipment and then I try to get all the trucks out. If I dont go out that day on the trucks I come in here. Theres always something out of place in here,

    I try to get everything back up to where everythings supposed to be, make sure everythings swept up good. And then Ill be waiting for the call to see what Ill end up doing next.

    What skills and abilities do you posses that qualify you for the position that you hold here?

    I can drive the forklift, I can handle the containers pretty well. More or less, just handling peoples furniture with care, as much as you can.You have to keep track of where everything goes, the container numbers, make sure everything is written down.

    What do you expect of your coworkers to be able to do your job well?

    Well we need to be on the same page. Communication. Let me know if theres something like a unique piece of furniture that might be loose somewhere. They need to communicate that to me so that I know how to handle it better when it comes in here. This whole job is about communication, if you start something you have to let me know where you finish it at, it all has to be communicated. Its key, if you dont have that you dont have nothin.

    Anything youd like to add?

    People come in and get boxes, I put them in their car.

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    CrissyCrissy. C-R-I-S-S-Y.

    How long have you been working at Heritage Firpo?

    Five years.

    What positions have you worked at?

    Packer, I help do record storage.

    Whats it like working for Heirtage Firpo as a packer?

    Nice.

    What would you say you enjoy the most?

    Meeting new people.

    As in customers?

    Yeah.

    What skills do you possess that qualify you for your position?

    Well, I know how to pack stuff, I like packing, I enjoy doing what I do.

    What sort of skills are needed to fill positions like packing and working in the warehouse?

    Being careful with other peoples stuff. Caring.

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    MartishaMy name is Martisha, Im 44, Ive been here for almost 16 years. I came here as a packer. But I have other jobs, I run the forklift.

    What would you say qualifies you to do your job well, being here as long as you have?

    You mean as far as packing?

    As far as packing and the other duties that are required of you.

    I mean, after 15 years it gets quite easy its a matter of, yknow, goin into the house and making sure the customer is comfortable with you, what youre packing. Just getting the job done. And while shes seeing you pack shes sure of what youre doing.

    What do you expect of your coworkers when youre out packing or operating the forklift?

    As a coworker, we should be able to hold each others weight at the job. If I need help with something then my coworker should be willing to come help me. If my coworker needs help I should be willing to help my coworker. And as for the forklift, its pretty much just an easy task. Its just getting on the machine, making sure that youre taking your time putting the containers up and bringing them down.

    What about the people who arent directly involved in what youre doing? (e.g. the movers, the people up in the office) What do you expect of them for you to do your job well?

    Well first of all, the people in the office need to be giving you the right paper work, like making sure that everything is written down properly so if youre pulling out containers, you have the right ones. If their paper work coincides with what youre pulling down you should be fine.

    Whats a daily run-through for you as a packer and forklift operator?

    I dont know, I really dont do much packing anymore, its really hard to say. Sometimes Im on the forklift, sometimes Im not.

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    DockThe LotThe

    TrucksThe

    Trucks

    The LotTheTheock &&D

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    JohnJohn, 29 and Im a driver slash mover.

    How long have you been with Heritage Firpo?

    Four years.

    In those four years what are the other positions that youve had here?

    Ive lead a couple of jobs, I go long distance, from Maine to Florida to Louisiana and Indiana.

    What would you say it takes to be a mover and a driver?

    Know how to drive a stick and knowing how to drive carefully.

    Whats the experience like with being a driver?

    I love it. You get to see different countrysides, get to meet new people. You get all kinds of people. I love it, I love to drive, its a fun experience.

    What do you expect of your coworkers to help you do your job?

    Just take turns on taking pieces, work and give it 110%

    You do moves as well? What are the skills and abilities that are required of you to do those jobs well?

    Be able to pick up furniture, know how to lift and where to lift without scraping a wall or anything.

    Whats your daily workday like?

    Go into the house, put carpet wrap on the carpets and pads down on the front door or on the rails and just grab and go furniture.

    What things have you learned from being a mover?

    Ive learned how to actually pick up things, like with bending the knees instead of bending the back and how to carry. You learn different ways of carrying, instead of carrying boxes in the front I carry them on my back.

    Anything else you want to add?

    I from Georgia, I moved up here and I obtained my license up here and Im going to continue my career in driving.

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    DanDan, Im 28, going on 5 years here. I believe April, 5 years.

    Whats your position here, what do you do?

    Laborer/helper, basically run stuff to the truck. Im basically The Beast. Take everything to the truck, yknow, take stuff apart, stuff like that, carry furniture.

    To do what you do what abilities and skills do you possess that qualify you for that?

    You definitely need some strength, man. I mean this job is definitely brutal on you. If youre just nobody and just come in outta nowhere its gonna be hard on you. It definitely takes a toll on your body, you gotta get used to it. Its probably one of the toughest jobs, I believe, in the world.

    What about long distance traveling? Road-trips? Do you do that often?

    Yeah, for a helper Ive been on the road quite a bit. Probably quite a bit more than a lot of people. Thats probably one of the best things about this place.

    Whats it like working as a mover as opposed to other occupations you have held?

    I like it, its cool man. It works your body out, keeps you in shape. You get to travel, you get to meet new people. You get to work with some cool coworkers, were all like a family here.

    What do you expect of your coworkers for you to be able to do your job well?

    Just not to slack, man. Try to help out as much as you possibly can. Dont just stand there and watch me do something. If you see me struggling with something dont stand there and watch. I think everybody should work at the same pace. Nobody should have more work than the other.

    Whats your day-to-day experience like?

    Clock in basically, I really dont have to do all that stuff: checking the trucks and stuff. But basically my day doesnt start until we get to the house and then we gotta prep the house up, prep it up with pads and stuff, put the carpet-wrap down, make sure its nice and neat, customer satisfaction. As long as theyre happy were happy.

    What are certain abilities that youve gained from doing this kind of work?

    There aint nothing I cant lift anymore! I can say that! Before I came here, I aint gonna lie I was pretty naive when it came to taking stuff apart but now Im pretty good at taking stuff apart and putting stuff back together. Thats one trait I did learn working here.

    Anything youd like to add?

    Like I said, the people are cool. If you cant along with your coworkers you cant have a job at all.

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    RodneyMy name is Rodney, Im 44 years old, Ive been doing this for 18 years. I love what I do. Im a mover from heaven, I take great care of peoples stuff, its a great company Ive been with them for a long time. Only certain people can move furniture, you gotta really love what you do.

    Whats your position here at Heritage Firpo?

    Im a driver, I go long distance, I drive all over the world. Class A driver, I lead jobs, I pack furniture into trucks, I do it all. I put cars on trucks

    How long have you been with the company?

    17 years.

    Whats changed for you, being here from the start?

    I started from ground-zero, I started from just being a helper. I moved my way up from being a helper to a driver, to leader, tractor trailer driver, class A driver.

    What are your skills and abilities that qualify you to do what you do here?

    Working with people. Working with people, customers, different people, yknow, taking care of their stuff. Im a talkative guy, I can pad up furniture.

    What do you expect from your coworkers to allow you to do your job well?

    I expect my coworkers to have an understanding of the moving business, take the same pride that I take pride of. You gotta like what you do, if you dont like what you do then we dont want you here, yknow. You gotta take care of peoples livelihoods. I got my son working here, my wife works here, shes been here for 14 years. Its a good thing to do, it keeps me in shape, Ive got three grandkids, one on the way. You see how in good shape I am? (laughter).

    Whats your daily workday like?

    Everybodys like a family here, everybody gets along like a family. My daily routine is to come in and inspect my truck. Then make sure Ive got all of my equipment on my truck, wait for my paperwork, get the crew together and head out to move somebody. Go to their house and introduce ourselves as Heritage Moving and do the walkthrough with the customer and from there just pad up everything and get ready to move her to a new destination.

    Anything else youd like to add?

    Its a good company and I love to be a mover.

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    JeremyMy names Jeremy, Ive been with Heritage Firpo & Sons for about four years now. I am 23 years old.

    What do you do here at Heritage Firpo?

    I am a driver, leader slash mechanic.

    How long have you been doing those jobs here?

    Ever since I was in high school, freshman year.

    What would you say it takes to fulfill those roles?

    Common sense, the wanting to know, the wanting to learn, basically. It all has a lot to do with common sense, picking things up quick and yknow just following the rules and following how everything goes and learning how everything operates.

    Would you say that you take a lot of that from your superiors?

    Yep. Always willing to learn. Always wanting to know what happens next, basically.

    What do you rely on your coworkers to be able to do for you to be able to do your job?

    Not standing around with their hands in their pockets and pretty much getting on the ball and knowing what to do. Instead of me and everybody having to tell somebody what to do and how to do it.

    Out of all the jobs youve held here, what one have you been doing the longest and where did you start?

    I started out just as a helper helping the crew members and the leaders get the truck packed and slowly moving up on the scale. It was just one step at a time. You move up and you learn the next one and then youre able to just get to the top, maybe not the top, but always be willing to learn.

    Whats yours and Jimmys roll here in the mechanics shop?

    Just keeping the trucks in line, making sure theyre good to go on the road and everythings working properly. And when they come back here if we have a big job yknow I just basically give the mechanic a hand in the big, labor-intensive jobs. Its a lot better having two than one, you get it done quicker and on time.

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    JimmyJimmy, 53 years old

    How long have you been here at Heritage-Firpo?

    A year now!

    What was it like coming to Heirtage-Firpo? What job responsibilities did you take on yourself?

    Well Ill tell ya, theyre really, really excellent people to work for. As far as the job goes, its not a whole lot different than what Id been doing for 35 years, its repairing the tractor-trailers. I do a whole lot more heavier work than the old mechanic did. Like when I got here they sent a lot of the trucks to the dealerships to get repaired. We do more transmission, engine, heavy work, so my bosses like that. So I try to do a good job.

    Whats a daily work day for you and Jeremy?

    Well the main thing you gotta do is when you get here in the morning is make sure that all the trucks will start and are ready to go out on the road. You need to be here in case a truck doesnt start and stupid stuff like the truck needs oil, tail lights out, it needs a clutch adjustment. You take care of all this minor stuff before it goes out on the road. And then once the main bulk of the trucks are out of here we actually settle into the shop to do any major repairs. Like right now were putting a transmission in so that fills our day here in the shop.

    What are the skills and abilities that qualify you to do your job well?

    Its more experience than anything else. Ive been to three different schools for safety inspections onto the proper break adjustments and the Department of Transportation inspections. But theres not a whole lot of books that teach you how to diagnose these things, its more experience than anything.

    Is it often that they dont do that?

    Theyre supposed to do a pre-trip every day on each piece of equipment that they use. Does it always get done? No. We compensate for that by doing a preventative maintenance inspection on a piece of equipment for every three months or every 4,000 miles. So thats my job to find whats wrong with that piece of equipment and repair it before it goes back out.

    What do like about being a mechanic?

    I like being a mechanic because its a constant challenge. Its not the same old boring job, every day theres something different. I mean I feel that if youve got a day that you didnt learn something, it was a wasted day. Its a beautiful job for me, Ive been doing this job since I was a teenager and for 40 years and Ive never gotten bored with it. Its just a constant challenge.

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    MaryIm Mary, Im older-than-Paul.

    Whats your position here at Heritage Firpo?

    Office Manager

    What duties does that position entail?

    Everything, basically.

    Whats a regular workday like for you?

    Its everything. Everything but sales and setting the trucks up, I do not do that. Everything else, book keeping, payables, billing, storage/record storage.

    How long have you been working at Heritage Firpo?

    21 years.

    What other positions have you held here at Heritage Firpo?

    None, just a gain in work. Its always the same.

    What have you learned working in this position? Skills youve obtained?

    I really dont know how to answer that one. The IT stuff, I learned that. That was the only thing I didnt do before I came here.

    What are the skills that you possess that qualify you for this position?

    (Jokingly) I can take lunch orders. I can clean the bathroom well But yeah, organizational skills, stuff like that. You just have to do what has to be done, just make it work. If you dont know how to do it you have to figure out a way to get it done and then you know that next time you can do it. Improvise.

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    JohnJohn, 58, Ive been here for seven years now. I help Warren with operations and I also do most of the long-distance coordinating in between ours and Stevens Van-Lines.

    Whats a daily workday for you?

    Help Warren with the trucks in the morning, guys all day long if we have any long distance or whatever, coordinating it or getting it delivered or sending it or picking it up.

    Whats your experience like working here?

    Its pretty good in the summer time, were really busy. In the winter time its sort of slow. In the summertime youre goin from the time you show up until the time you leave, seven in the morning until five in the afternoon.

    What are the skills and abilities that qualify you for the position that you have? What do you offer to the office to make it run the way it does?

    Well, pretty much know most of the stuff that the trucks are supposed to be doing, how many men are supposed to be out there, if were doing long-distance, when were supposed to be there. How to collect the money from what they owed or calling whatever needs to be done.

    What are some problems that you face in you position?

    The biggest problem is when were long-distance. The drivers dont get the address where theyre going to or they dont get any phone numbers and youve got to try and figure out how to get a hold of these people and tell them what they owe or that were coming. Thats the biggest problem, guys dont communicate. Were not getting the information that we need here so we have to scramble around getting what we need.

    What are the abilities and skills of your coworkers that help you do what you do?

    Warren knows mostly the operations, he knows most of the stuff. He knows the trucks and stuff, I know the men. So if we have a problem with the trucks, Warren is the man that does that.

    Are there any skills that youve acquired working in the business that you didnt have before?

    Once you start working in it you just start learning every day, so its mostly a repeat by now and theres always new stuff coming up. Theyre changing the rules and regulations all the time for the millitary and you have to know all this stuff, but once you start getting into it, its not that hard. The hardest part is that they keep changing stuff over and over again so you get to learn new things every time.

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    WarrenName? Warren. Age? 46

    What do you do here at Heritage Firpo?

    Operations and Sales, which is hiring, trucks, ordering, sales, selling jobs, booking jobs, making sure all the men are on the job at the right time with the right equipment, that all the equipments running.

    How long have you been with Heritage Firpo?

    21 years, (laughter).

    What other positions have you held at Heritage Firpo?

    Started out as a helper, then moved up to a leader/driver.

    For each position you held, what skills do you possess and have you acquired that qualified you for those positions?

    I guess when I first started it was because I was physically in shape and big to carry furniture. Driving, I had a clean record I was able to get my commercial drivers license. Then when we moved into the office, I know the business, basically grew up in it.

    What skills are required for the department that youre currently in? What are some things that you would want your coworkers to also possess?

    Good communication skills, being able to sell our services, accountability.

    Whats it like working here on a daily basis?

    Its a good job, its family run so everybody gets along. If you have a problem you can just tell them. If you dont have a problem then everythings good.

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    t

    Reputation

    And if they hear really good things,

    Reputation There aint nothing else that matters. in todays economy, but by far your If they hear shit about you they aint about you youre going to get an

    And if they hear really good things,

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    t

    is everything.

    then its yours to lose.- Paul A. Imburgia, CEO

    is everything.Price has definitely taken a priorityreputation precedes everything.calling. If they hear good things

    o p p o r t u n i t y .

    then its yours to lose.

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    MMoveoveTheTheOnOn

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    Friday, March 9, 2012The Safeguard Group, Inc. Aston, PA

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    Objective: Move employee office spaces from the ground floor to the second floor and basement. Crew: Sam (leader), Jerry, Chris, Zach, Dave, Rich and Jimmy

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    ZachMy names Zach, Im 19, Ive probably worked at Heritage Firpo for the past six summers.

    What do you do here? Whats your job description?

    Im a driver, I also work around the warehouse, sometimes in the garage with the mechanic.

    So out of those six years what has changed for you in terms of your duties and your responsibilities here?

    Last summer was the first summer I went out and started driving the trucks, I was given more responsibility and more hours to work.

    Whats your daily work day like?

    I come in seven-thirty/eight, I start the truck and wait for Warren to give us a job location. Warren is the dispatcher, one of the men in the office. I get the job location, we get our crew, we prepare the trucks the necessary tools and then we head out to the job. When we get to the job, we prepare the house, meet the customer, load the truck up. After that we take it to wherever it has to go and unload it.

    How long does something like that take?

    It depends on the size of the house, the work day can be from eight to five or eight to midnight. A lot of different time variations.

    What would you say are the skills that you have that qualify you for the job that you do here?

    I can drive, Im young, strong, dont really get tired and can work all day.

    What would you say makes you a better mover than others?

    I show up every day, I dont slack off, dont dodge pieces. Dodge means to avoid the heavy pieces. I enjoy lifting the heavy pieces. I hustle and work hard.

    Whats it like being in relation to the family?

    Its kinda good and its kinda weird at the same time. Its good because you know if something happens theyll have your back. But its also weird because even though Im only 19 people still look up to me.

    What do you expect of your coworkers to help you do your job?

    I expect them to show up, like if theyre in our crew and they dont show up they can hurt us because instead of three men well be down to two andll have to work even harder. Just show up and do your job, basically.

    Anything else youd like to add?

    Uncle Mike is one of the legends here.

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    SamSam, age 50, Im one of the owners here and I do whatevers got to be done.

    Whats the experience like being a part of the family that owns it rather than just a worker?

    Its a lifestyle. Its not just, Hey Im gonna go punch in. You live, eat, breathe moving furniture. Every day youre moving something. Every day youre thinking about moving. I started at like 11, 12 or 13 years old. My dad would take me to the warehouse during the summers and we would work. We put in like a 45-hour week and made $14 for the week. And thats what we would do just because we got the experience in learning how to do it.

    What job position are you currently fulfilling?

    Just sales. All estimates: pretty much going out and surveying the job.

    What is expected of you to do those jobs that youre doing currently and the jobs that you have done before?

    Well I have the insight from over 30 years of experience of doing this. You have to know what has to be done, what it takes. Either equipment, carting, packaging, from shipping stuff domestically in the States, around the corner, locally from town to town and even overseas. From China to Sweden to Holland, wherever.

    What do you bring to the table in terms of duties and responsibilities? What do you do best?

    Thats a hard one to grasp because theres no concrete terminology to that other than, Makin it Happen. Thats pretty much it. If a sofas gotta go out a window and down six flights in the air, then thats what happens. If a crate has to be built, fine. If a seven-foot centrifuge machine has to go through a five-foot door, yeah thats no problem.

    Youve seen it all. What has that taught you about the moving business?

    The moving business is like life. You dont know whats around the corner, what the next job is. But youve got to step up and do what you have to do. Make it happen, as I say.

    What do you expect of your co-workers to do you job?

    I want to be able to work just as hard as they do, so they expect to work as hard as I do. Theres no question of effort and if theres a question of effort then youre in the wrong field. This is not for the shy person. This is not for the person thats like, Ow I got a splinter, I cant work. That doesnt happen around here. You might lose a finger or two but you still gotta keep going and just get some packing tape and put it back on.

    How do you think the community sees Heritage-Firpo, clearly its been here a long time, what impact has this company had?

    Great impact. From my grandfather to my father and uncles and to our generation, the impact is of respect, knowing were trustworthy in taking care of peoples good and were fair and reasonable. Thats the most important thing in business, people know that youll take care of their stuff and treat them fairly and charge them fairly. Yknow were not out to move the country. Once my father told me that people work for companies, anybody can move a company. But when you start moving the people for the companies then the people will spread the word. Companies come and go. People dont.

    What do you like best about the business?

    Just to make people happy. To do things with furniture that isnt supposed to be done. To blow peoples minds out of the way with how quick we move and how fast and how intelligently we move the goods. Its just, you cant take that away when you hear somebody say, Man that was amazing what you just did. You cant replace those words. People are happy when you leave their house, theyre ecstatic. They know they got their moneys worth.

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    ChrisMy names Chris, Ill be 28 in a week and Ive been here since I was 17. So a little over 11 years that is.

    To do all thats required of you, what are skills and abilities that you have that qualify you to do your job well?

    Well Im very good with people, for one. To be a good crew leader youve got to be able to talk to people. Sometimes people can be upset over moving, whether its a divorce or they dont want to move out of their house, sometimes its good to calm them down. Yknow, just give them confidence that youre gonna take care of their stuff. Also, youve got to be somewhat in shape. Youve got to be able to pick up some grunt work. For driving the trucks, you need a CDL to drive most of the trucks. I went to All-State Career School for my class-A. Mechanical skills is a good skill to have because you have to take stuff apart and put stuff back together. Navigation, youve got to be a good navigator. Keeping things neat, you wanna do a good job packing furniture up an you just wanna keep things neat and tidy.

    Whats your daily work day like?

    I start off in the morning, I come in, I clock in, Im given a truck that Im gonna be in for the day. So then I gotta get the keys, I gotta do a pre-trip for that truck. That consists of checking the oil and belts and lights and, yknow, just get it running, get it warmed up. So

    then I kinda just hang with the guys if theres nothing to do. Sometimes they have work in the warehouse before we head out on our job for the day, so you could be loading or unloading a truck thats already here. Then when its time to leave we usually dispatch at around eight in the morning. So we head out to the job and drive where it may be, When we get there, me as a crew leader I walk in and introduce myself to the customer and get a walkthrough of the house, go room by room and find everything thats going. Then I would go out and get the guys, introduce them to the customer, give them the tour. Then we start. Well pick where we want to start in the house, depending on the job, sometimes theres one-day jobs , sometimes they take a couple days to do. You just have to find a spot in the house where you want to start at. Once we have that we get started. Usually Im in the truck packing the truck. Like Danny, hes a helper, so hell bring me stuff in the truck and Ill pack it until the jobs done.

    Anything youd like to add?

    I feel like Im good at what I do and Ive been here a really long time and I get taken care of pretty decent. I love going on the road. Thats the part I missed out, I mean traveling is awesome. Going on the road and meeting new people and just seeing the country, I cant believe I left that out, thats probably the best part about this job. And just getting to hang out with good guys, thats what its about.

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  • Paul C. ImburgiaPhotojournalistTemple University