MOVING ON UP: Coutu Bros. Moving & Storage CEO Robert Romano, foreground, at the company’s new 8,000-square-foot storage facility, which was opened in September. The business has expanded to include moves on the entire East Coast. Also pictured are employees Rob Romeo Jr., left, and Delon Hutton.
Robert Romano has always worked in the service industry, so being both the CEO of Coutu Bros. Moving and Storage and the guy who runs the forklift in his new storage warehouse doesn’t faze him.
Coutu Bros. expanded the moving business to storage last fall with the acquisition of the 8,000-square-foot building that houses offices and a warehouse, relocating the business from 133 Central St. to 2 Greco Lane, two blocks away, in Warwick.
Romano, now 47, started a limo company right after high school, followed that with a florist shop he ran with his wife, Marie, until it closed in 1995, and was a meat cutter at a Sam’s Club in Warwick, then an estimator for his brother’s moving company, until that company closed in 1999.
About that time, Coutu Bros., then in Pawtucket and established in 1940, was listed in the paper for sale. Romano bought it.
“It’s been around for so long, I just kept the name,” he said.
While not sure of the origins of that name, Romano said, Coutu Bros. today is actually a family business. Besides Romano, his daughter, Jerilyn, is operations manager and two sons, Robert Jr. and Michael, are laborers. In addition, John Andrade, the company’s fleet manager, is a longtime friend.
Personalized customer service is central to Romano’s work ethic, and includes basics like training employers to “give the best moving experience possible. Moving is very stressful, so to give the customer-service level we give and keep them calm throughout the moving process: that’s what I like. You’re actually helping them transition their life and have a good experience.”
Though the company does both commercial and residential jobs, the latter constitutes 75 percent of the business, he said.
A key policy includes “short notice” moves that allow customers to get moved within 24 hours of calling, based on availability, instead of having to wait three to five days, which is how long many of Romano’s competitors require, Romano said.
“I saw a need out there, where people were calling last minute and they were telling me all these big van lines needed three to five day’s notice, so I thought, ‘Why not get them what they want?’ ”