Monthly Archives: May 2014

China Bear Removals

MOVING PICTURES

You probably don’t think about it when you’re watching your favourite reality TV programs, but a lot of them – especially the ones where contestants all move in together – are filmed in people’s houses. You don’t necessarily notice it when you’re watching the show, but they’re huge places. Some are 15- and 20-bedroom homes that are occupied by Sydneysiders.

People rent out their places for the length of a production, which means all their stuff has to be moved out of the place and into storage for 12 weeks or so to make way for the props, contestants, crew and gear required to make a TV show.

It involves the disruption of a family because they’ve got to move everything – their phones, their Foxtel, their mail gets redirected – and literally the entire house is cleared out. It’s not like we stick the furniture in one or two rooms, and they’re the rooms they don’t use – we pack it all up, put it in the truck and move it out, relocating these people temporarily.

China Bear Removals & StorageAnd on some shows, it’s the same house year after year, so they’ve got to move out for 12 weeks every time!

Sometimes, though, it isn’t even for that long. They might just be making a short film and they need the venue for a week, so we’ve got to get everything out. Or maybe it’s a quick TV commercial and only need it for a day.

You know those special episodes where the guy takes one of the girls he’s interested in home to meet the parents? If the producer thinks the family home is too cluttered to accommodate a camera or two, they’ll give us a call to clear out the furniture and turn the house inside-out for a day.

So whether it’s for months or just a day, we’re moving stuff in and out, in and out, and making sure what’s going on in the background looks as good as what’s going on in the foreground.

Then, when the show’s over, we put it back and make them all comfortable again.

That’s the reality of TV.

China Bear

WHEN THE BEAR WAS A CUB

People often ask about the origins of China Bear, especially when it comes to the name. The truth is, it came from a boat.

Back in 1978, the founders of the company, Tony Kuypers and Bruce Bailey, had come to an agreement on almost everything that would make up their joint venture into the removals game. They were having a quiet ale in a bar on Sydney Harbour at the time, discussing what they were going to call the company, when they saw a large cargo ship come in. The name of the ship was China Bear!

Aside from being very memorable, the name has been a benefit in other ways. In 1988, when two giant pandas visited Australia from China as part of our Bicentenary celebrations, we were chosen by Taronga Zoo to handle the ground transportation. We rocked up at the airport with the iconic truck, and the crates holding Xiao Xiao and Fei Fei were loaded into the back – as well as some zoologists and vets to make sure the pair didn’t get carsick. Under police escort, we weaved across Sydney, over the Harbour Bridge to the zoo.

China Bear

(Later, when we drove the pandas back to the airport so they could go home, we were presented with the framed poster at the top of this entry.)

China Bear has built up an amazing history since 1978.We’ve always been based in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, so the green trucks with the dancing panda have become very recognisable over the years, giving us a lot of repeat business. Now that the kids have grown up and moved out of home, they continue to use the Panda!

And yes, we’re still available for the transport of endangered species, if any zoos are reading.

Moving Buddha

ENLIGHTENING THE BUDDHA

This week the China Bear team were called upon to move a god. Or, more precisely, a statue of a god.

Weighing somewhere around 500kg, the statue of Buddha was a spur-of-the-moment purchase by its owner while he was travelling through Indonesia. Years before we got near the big fella, Buddha had had a rough life. Somewhere between clearing Customs and landing in the backyard at its first house, the packing crate holding it fell apart, so Buddha’s got a few war wounds.
Buddha Crane

Because the piece is so heavy, when he got it home the client had soaked the concrete it would sit on in oil to position Buddha in a traditional way, which shows a lot of respect. On the other hand, it was apparently used as the Twelfth Man in many a game of backyard cricket! A good spare fieldsman, never complained once…or asked for a go at bat.

Anyway, the kids have moved out of home so the parents are relocating to a new house. They couldn’t leave Buddha behind, of course, and that’s where we came in. Moving the thing caused us a bit of grief, because 500kg winds up being a little bit more than you think it is. In the end we used a specialist contractor to lift Buddha up over the fence, as well as to position it in the right way at the new place (behind the stumps).

Funnily enough, on that particular day, we moved two jade statues, that were 250-odd kilos, for a Chinese guy. It’s not beyond what we do as removalists, but it’s unusual and sometimes does require some specialist equipment and contractors.

Just one question: aren’t statues meant to stay put?

Mirror Image

MIRROR, MIRROR – OFF THE WALL

Unlike most jobs, being a removalist means you’re invited into people’s homes every day. That means you get to see all sorts of things, and you build up a collection of stories – be it furniture that’s tricky to move, funny things that happen on the job or how we dealt with a dog that went on the attack while our arms were full with some delicate antique.

That’s why we’ve launched this blog as part of China Bear’s brand-new website – to give you a bit of insight into the life of a mover.

You face a lot of different challenges when you’re dealing with people’s prized possessions. This week, for example, we had to move a mirror. Not just any mirror – this was a designer piece of art that’s 180cm wide by 2.4m tall, and shaped like the sun, with long metal arms twisting out from the centre. Obviously that made a bit of hard work for the fellas, as it had to be handled very carefully.

Before we even got there, the owner was very clear about how we should treat her mirror, saying, “I don’t want any more twists or turns to be added.”

Under her watchful eye, we set up a scaffold on the staircase to lift the artwork down before strapping it into a cargo net, inside a specially designed crate.

It was actually the second crate we’d built for that mirror, because our salesman forgot the old “100mm rule” on his tape measure, which meant the first one was just a bit too small. So we’ve got a spare crate here if anyone needs a slightly smaller sculpture moved…

In the end, we got the mirror over to Rose Bay with no dramas – only to find it doesn’t fit on the wall in the new house!

The owner will have to get some modifications to her staircase before she can display the sun, so at the moment it’s still suspended in that crate, awaiting a new dawn.