COLUMNSGenericHome Guru

Avoiding a Horror Story When it’s Time to Move

We are part of The Trust Project
Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera

I have heard a lot of horror stories about moving and dealing with moving companies. I have personally experienced the best and worst of experiences in this realm.

I remember the time when I had accepted a job in Boston and the company that hired me agreed to pay for the move and even retained a mover that would pack for us. My wife and I did no preparation whatsoever, secure in the belief that the movers would pack all of our belongings. But when the driver from the moving company knocked on our door, we panicked when he said, “We can’t pack!”

“But your company said you would pack,” we replied.

Only after an exchange did we realize that the driver’s Boston accent was responsible for us misinterpreting his “can’t pack” for “can’t park.”

A while back, when I told my wife that I received a cold call from a moving company and agreed to meet with the owner for an interview because he seemed so nice, she went into panic mode.

“Oh, my,” she said, “haven’t you heard all the horror stories about movers?”

Before the end of the day, she had printed out 89, yes 89, online postings of moving story horrors, everything from drivers showing up drunk or not showing up at all, to holding truckloads of furniture for ransom until inflated prices were paid to victims of a scam. Even we had experienced a couple of them ourselves. With one move, when the company did the packing for us, they unbelievably had thrown our hammer into the same box with our signed Tiffany candy dish, shattering the latter to bits.

By the time I had skimmed through all the postings, I was really anxious and prepared to ask many questions.

However, when Phil Derasmo of Advantage Moving & Storage Systems arrived, I felt at ease. Even though his direct marketing representative, the nice lady on the phone named Felice, had called from someplace in New Jersey, I learned that Derasmo was the president of the company and a neighbor, living in nearby Mahopac.

When I asked how long he’d been in the business, he said three generations, and it came with a story with real heart. His grandfather, Mario, started the business in the early 1950s by making arrangements with his neighbors in the Bronx to go down to the port in lower Manhattan in his open wagon to pick up their relatives who were arriving by boat from Italy.

“There were a lot of Italian immigrants coming over at that time, and they didn’t come just with suitcases. They came with trunks,” Derasmo said. “With many, maybe 2,000 or more, he was the first person they met when they got off the boat. He would charge them about $25 to get them up to the Bronx, and it took about two hours because it included an impromptu tour of Manhattan. He then started moving people, a natural progression.”

Today, Derasmo’s company is highly advanced with a contingent of trucks and warehousing and the most technically sophisticated website, which takes the guesswork out of calculating the cost of a move by moving your browser over a map of the country.

“That’s the biggest problem with some companies in the business today, getting a straight answer about what the bottom line is with cost when you do comparative shopping among several movers,” Derasmo said. “With our company, you just go to our website and our cost calculator can take you anyplace in the country and you’ll know what the basic cost will be.” Visit and check it out.

But as technically advanced as Advantage may be, the personal touch that its president offers, along with just a few other representatives who deal directly with customers, is actually disarming.

When it was time for my wife and me to move four years ago, I called Derasmo. I knew I was dealing with an honest, straight shooter when we were going through the rooms of our house. My biggest concern was my paintings. I was trying to calculate what it would cost to package our paintings and framed prints which we’ve collected over the years. He simply said, “Why go through that expense? I’ll give you some big boxes with separators, either cardboard or bubble wrap, and package them up, and why not move them yourselves? It will save you a lot of money.”

Derasmo told me that 75 percent of his business comes from personal referrals. I can understand why. His information kit gives the names and telephone numbers of people in my community I can call for recommendations.

Check out Advantage’s website even if you’re not planning a move soon. But if you are, call 800-444-0104.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (, specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.




We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.