Meet Kathleen Rowell of American Moving and Installation
Kathleen Rowell started her moving company, American Moving and Installation, in 2009 out of a home office with only one truck.
In the years leading up to the start of her business, she had primarily worked as a nurse but maintained a side job doing commercial cleaning. But Rowell decided to change course—diving headlong into the moving industry.
Taking a leap of faith
She recalls an interaction with a mover who brought products into the Boston Design Center in the Seaport District, where she was hired to conduct a cleanout. Her experience led her to wonder if there were any women at the helm of moving companies in the area.
It turns out there weren’t. “I went in full force at that point,” Rowell said. “That was my turning point. I went to the bank with $1,000 and got incorporated.”
She became the first woman to hold a signatory contract with the local 25 teamsters union.
Initially, with only one moving truck, her competitors didn’t take her seriously. That they doubted her chance at success only served to light a fire within her. “The companies I was competing against were third-generation businesses, all male-owned,” Rowell said. “There weren’t any other women-owned doing moving, so I thought, ‘What better role model for your kids than to see their mother taking charge?’”
Landing the contract with Encore
One year after founding American Moving and Installation, Rowell was in business, leasing warehouse space in Braintree and opening an office in Dorchester. Persistence would pay off when Rowell landed a $10 million contract with Encore Boston Harbor—a keystone project that tells the story of her business journey.
“When I got that Encore contract, it was such a milestone to reflect on where I came from,” Rowell said.
Making strides for women in construction
American Moving and Installation is now a thriving business with deep industry ties, including with clients such as Bose, New Balance, Boston Children’s Hospital, and MIT. Over the years, Rowell has added dozens of employees, acquired a fleet of trucks, and relocated her business to its current corporate headquarters in Hanover, Massachusetts.
American Moving and Installation remains Massachusetts’s only 100% certified woman-owned, union commercial moving company. In addition to its Women’s Business Enterprise National Council certification, the company is also certified by the Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office and the Women-Owned Small Business from the Small Business Administration.
An emphasis on safety
American Moving and Installation was given Highwire’s Gold Safety Award for its noteworthy safety record. “Safety is at the heart of what we do,” Rowell said, citing the required safety meetings and training that are part of company protocol. Moving is inherently stressful, Rowell said, so her employees go the extra mile to ensure they are properly equipped to carry out a move.
Additionally, American Moving and Installation uses state-of-the-art equipment that, together with rigorous internal safety processes, help reduce the possibility of safety incidents. American Moving and Installation is the only woman-owned moving company to receive the Gold Safety Award from Highwire.
Rowell’s advice for women entering the construction industry
As more and more women enter into construction, Rowell said it’s essential that the industry shine a spotlight on their work. “There are so many women in construction. Women are rising and being recognized as hard workers in this industry,” Rowell said.
Rowell’s advice to young women looking to join the trades is, quite simply: “Be fearless.”
“Just be a go-getter. Dream big, and the sky’s the limit,” Rowell said.