by Nat Frothingham
MONTPELIER — Some people are hard to spot even when you’re looking right at them. They just melt into a crowd. Others, you just can’t miss seeing them. It seems like they’re everywhere.
Tom Moore who runs T&T Truck for Hire in Montpelier is one of those fellows you keep seeing everywhere.
With his lean, rugged good looks and friendly manner, Moore is the owner, driver, lifter, hauler and sole proprietor of T&T Truck for Hire in Montpelier.
If you think you’ve seen him over and over again that may have something to do with his easily spotted half-ton, Chevy pick-up truck with an eight-foot box painted fire-engine red.
Moore is a Vermont native who was born, grew up and went to school in Rutland and who also worked in Rutland as a young adult. But in 1992 when Vermont was going through one of its periodic mini-recessions, Moore heard about a job doing diesel repair up in central Vermont for a Caterpillar dealer out on Northfield Street in Berlin. Moore’s been up here ever since with stints of doing a range of things including turning wrenches and selling cars.
For 18 years he was on the Montpelier Fire Department’s call force. “I loved the department,” Moore said. “I always wanted to be a fireman since when I was a little boy. It’s exciting — the trucks, you know. The danger in it, I guess. A little excitement.”
Up until recently in both sales and repair work, Moore has worked for a succession of bosses. About selling cars, he said, “I did that for a long time. Things got tough at the end because increasingly people did their shopping for cars on the Internet. The personal touch was largely gone. But before the business changed, Moore was good at selling cars and got the sales bonuses and the repeat customers. If there was a secret to his success at selling cars, it was a secret that’s almost not a secret — working to please his customers.
If pleasing his customers was the “up side” of car sales, the “down” side, as Moore described it was, “Sometimes when you’re working for a boss, there are quotas and pressures, like pressures to sell perhaps. It’s kind of like, ‘Get’em in, get’em out, get them to sign a sales contract.”
Eventually the pressures got old. “That’s not the way I am,” Moore said. “If it takes two weeks (for a customer) to decide on something — fine. These people when they’re happy, they’ll come back — again and again.”
Three or four years ago, Moore quit selling and went out on his own and opened a small thrift store called “T&T Repeats” in a ground-floor retail location at 116 Main Street in Montpelier. He filled the store with second-hand stuff: furniture, cookware and the like. Moore would go to garage sales looking for items that would sell.
At the same time he bought a pick-up truck for the store and advertised it as “a truck for hire” for all-purpose hauling, moving, trips to the dump, practically any task that required a man, a truck and a job to be done.
“I’ve even done grocery shopping for people, believe it or not,” he said.
“I have one customer,” Moore said, “who calls me twice a month to take two boxes to her storage unit.” It’s not a big deal. “She just wants company,” Moore said.
Moore once helped a man who was moving from Montpelier to Hartford, Connecticut. “When we got there, the elevator didn’t work. We had to carry the stuff up five stories. That was a tough one.”
Another time Moore helped a young lady move from Montpelier to Burlington. But she couldn’t leave Montpelier until after nine in the evening. That was OK. But when she and Moore got to the new apartment, her new roommate needed help moving from her old apartment into the new apartment. It was late but Moore obliged.
“She asked me if my rate was higher for the late night move and I said, “No, my rate’s the same, night or day.”
Moore has even moved animals. “One woman moved out with three cats,” he said. “They were all in cat carriers. It was summer. We buckled them into the back and carefully tied them down.”
“I’ll be 54 in July,” said Moore as he looked back on two years of running T&T Truck for Hire.
All-told, he’s happy and more relaxed about what he’s doing now. “I enjoy working for myself. It’s so much less stress. I can sleep at night.”
The money side of things is on the upswing. “I did $12,000 more this year than I did my first year,” he said. “I have a part-time employee who’s on salary. He’s a regular employee on salary with workmen’s comp and social security. I’ve got an accountant to take care of all my numbers. Plus I’ll be getting a new truck this spring,” he said.
During the summer, when Moore is not working, he enjoys riding his motor cycle with friends. He owns a Harley and is part of the Central Vermont Harley Owners Group. “We go to Maine, New Hampshire, of course all over Vermont, Massachusetts sometimes. These are family guys and gals going out and enjoying their bikes camping in state parks, putting on a couple of hundred miles a ride on a weekend,” he said.
Nothing about Moore’s truck-for-hire working life gives him greater pleasure than knowing that he’s providing a service that people like and appreciate.
“I get around,” said Moore. “I bump into people at Shaw’s who say, ‘Hi Tom, how are you doing?’ You acknowledge them. I’m doing something that people like and appreciate. So they say, ‘Hello.’ It makes me feel good.”
To get in touch with Tom Moore at T&T Truck for Hire, phone 224-1360.