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The Italian Job: reliability is the key to success

Apr 18, 2013
Reliability is the key to success for west London-based Giovaruscio.

Giovaruscio, of west London, is a specialist mover for traffic between Italy and the UK.  For the last 25 years its Managing Director Leonardo Pedone has done every job in the moving business from driving a truck to driving a desk.  Today he, and his business partner Pino Giovaruscio, run a successful business linking Italy with northern Europe working for many of the best known movers in the business.

The Giovaruscio office and warehouse in Hayes is guarded (or maybe it’s just decorated) by Nanook, an adorable Alaskan Malamute, and Leonardo’s family pet.  He looks a little out of place in a west London office, being more at home at the front of a sled, but Leonardo says he is good at home with the children and isn’t too much of a drain on the office central heating.

Nanook is new to the moving business, but Leonardo has been around a while.  He started in 1985 with Bolliger in London.  There he used Giovaruscio in Italy as a sub contractor.  He left to join Hedleys Humpers for 8 years and then returned to Bolliger shortly before the company was bought by Amertrans.  When Amertrans bought Trans Euro to form TEAM, Leonardo found himself running the Italian desk. In 2002 Pino Giovaruscio came to England to attend the cup final with Leonardo.  After a glass of beer or two, and fired up no doubt by the match, they decided to open the London office.  Remarkably they woke the next day feeling the same way and the company was born.

“We felt there was an opportunity for us,” said Leonardo.  “The Italian work was changing.  When the borders came down it opened up the business to anyone with a van.  The bigger companies couldn’t compete, but we felt we could.” 

And so it proved they did.  Leonardo started working from home and gradually built the business specialising in running a regular service to and from Italy.  Most of his work was for the trade. “People just wanted a reliable service,” said Leonardo. “We needed to deliver on time and make sure communicated well.”

The business built steadily.  Soon Leonardo was able to run a regular weekly service to Italy.  Today the company employs 45 people between its depots in London, Rome and Milan, has five road trains with demountable bodies, three 7.5 tonne lorries, around 20 vans and three outside elevators. “Elevators are essential in Italy because most of the city buildings don’t have proper access,” he said.   The company’s facilities in Italy include a 5,000 sq met warehouse in Rome serving central and southern Italy, and a 1,000sq met warehouse in Milan serving the north.  Partners serve the islands.

There was a time when the traffic was roughly 50/50 north and southbound, but today the traffic going south is more difficult to find.  The company has three regular routes: UK to Paris and Brussels; UK to Paris and Benelux; and UK to Germany, Benelux and Italy.  “We have around 2,000 jobs a year,” said Leonardo.  “They range from just providing a porter to one of our partner companies to handling a full house move.”  All his services have one thing in common: they go every week, full or empty.  “We have traffic to bring back so even if the vehicle is empty it has to go anyway.  Our customers know that they can rely on us.”

Over the years Leonardo has learned how to keep costs down.  “We never drive across France,” he said.  “It’s too expensive and the French regulations are too onerous.  It’s much cheaper to stay off the motorways and travel through Belgium, Germany and Switzerland.”

Although he is happy to cut costs where it makes sense, he is determined not to let standards fall despite intense price competition.  “There is always someone who will do the job cheaper but we are not dropping our prices any further.  There is a price for the job and if you go below that you have to cut corners.  We are already running cheaper prices than we were ten years ago.”

One frustration for Leonardo is that he is often asked to carry traffic when other operators have let their customers down.  “I wish people would ask us for a quotation before they quote the job themselves.  So many times we are offered jobs at a fixed price, but the price on offer just isn’t worthwhile.  Our rates are as low as we can make them and still provide the right level of service.  It can’t be done properly, cheaper.”

Giovaruscio provides origin, transport and destination services for its trade customers.  Most of the work is for major corporations. Leonardo also does surveys where necessary.  “But we don’t want to take control of the jobs. We like to quote our partner, he can then add his margin and quote the customer.  We then do the work once the job is secured.” 

The company has successfully carved out a niche for itself based upon reliability of service and competitive rates.  In future Leonardo believes that the growth will come from its emerging air and sea service.  Customers can be sure that reliability will continue to be top of the company’s list of priorities.

Photo: Left to right : Nora Manolachi, Leonardo Pedone, Rossitsa Chafalanova.

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