Moving company keeps with tradition, despite COVID
Steve Lamanna was proud to be continuing his family’s moving business – with one big change.
Lamanna, 47, grew up watching his father Raymond build the moving business his father Samuel opened in Herkimer in 1928. As a child, Lamanna folded moving documents and fetched water for the movers. At the age of 18 he joined his father’s crew.
“I went to college on business, but I didn’t love it. I love my job, you have to love it or you wouldn’t. The days fly by,” Lamanna said last week at a customer in Halfmoon packing boxes and coaching an employee on how best to pack a box.
Samuel Lamanna was a fruit and vegetable seller who invested in a moving truck after customers kept asking him to move this or that piece of furniture. When Lamanna took over the business in 2007, he was faced with a major focal point: the business that his father and grandfather carefully cultivated had stalled because business in Herkimer and the surrounding valley dried up.
“I didn’t want it to go up in smoke,” he said. He made the jump to Albany, which meant entering a market already served by moving companies. Lamanna said he bought advertising and relied on recommendations from happy customers.
“After buying a home, moving is the most stressful thing you will go through,” says Lamanna. “People are attached to their things and no matter what, we treat it like it’s our own.”
COVID-19 was nerve-wracking, says Lamanna. Like many other business owners, he wondered if it would put him out of business. Not only was he worried about his own family, but his crew, parents, and in-laws, all of whom are business-dependent. But pandemic or not, people still had to move. Lamanna set new rules for movement – everyone wore masks, goggles, and gloves. He only allowed one person from the client’s family to be present. Lamanna and his staff wore a set of gloves to unload and a new pair to unload in the customer’s new home. He’s eased security restrictions a little, but he and his crew are still wearing masks. He wants to ensure the safety of his customers and his employees because if any of them are diagnosed with coronavirus, they must all be quarantined.
“COVID didn’t stop us,” he says, adding that he has not sought financial assistance through the federal government-provided Paycheck Protection Program to assist businesses during the economic standstill caused by COVID-19.
Josh and Trish Poupore moved in May after selling their house and buying a new one in Niskayuna. After careful research, Poupore hired Lamanna and now they are recommending the company to others.
“I was very pleased with the job they did,” said Josh Poupore. “They came on time and everyone was wearing masks and gloves, I didn’t have to remind them. His crew worked fast but didn’t hurry. Everyone was very respectful and seemed to care about doing a good job. Indeed before they got me in In my new house one of the moving companies actually relocated, identified and repaired a broken hinge on my storm door. That is way outside of the scope of the job they were hired to do, but an example of what a good job they do. “”
According to an analysis of the American Moving and Storage Association’s census data, there were 30,234,000 moves from 2018 to 2019. Of these, 5,875,000 were either relocations from abroad to the US or international relocations.
The moving business offers unusual sights, says Lamanna. There was a time when a cat hid on a couch and jumped into the moving truck. Another time, a man asked Lamanna to pack and move the contents of three storage units. When Lamanna arrived, he found six storage units and several tractor units. Nobody came home until after midnight, he said. It should be noted: Lamanna charges by the hour, not the job. And then there was the job Lamanna had turned down: the rooms were so full of precariously stacked boxes that it was a risk to his men.
Of its customers, Lamanna says that about 70% hire him to move their things after they’ve done the packing and about 30% hire him to pack and move them. Younger people are more dependent on friends, while older people are more likely to call movers. One of the main problems customers face is theft and damage, he says. So that people feel comfortable, he wraps valuables (like a jewelry box) in plastic wrap in front of the customer and unpacks them in the same way at the destination.
Lamanna attacks by the hour. When you’re done packing, you’ll save time and money.
If it seems easy but many follow the advice: Label all of your boxes. When they arrive at the new house, the moving companies know where to park them.