People of UOVO: Our Art Transportation Team and the Debut of Big Blue

August 30, 2016

While UOVO is well-known for its futuristic facility and bright blue trucks, the people are the heart of our company. Their backgrounds and expertise are diverse and rich and we’re excited to introduce them to you in the coming months. This is the first installment in our ongoing “People of UOVO” series. We’ll introduce our team and discuss some of the ins and outs behind the scenes of the art storage and services business.

Tony Linenberger and Samantha Hamill are the driving force (pun intended) behind UOVO’s extensive transportation fleet. We sat down with them to discuss how fine art transportation is different from any other kind of shipping, what makes our drivers unique, and how the debut of “Big Blue,” our new, customized high-cube truck, is a game-changer for our services.

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Transportation Manager Tony Linenberger with “Big Blue”

How fine art transportation is radically different from anything else:

Sam: I was at Bonham’s and worked in the collectible car department liaising for my clients, getting cars to and from the auctions. Transporting fine art is totally different from transporting cars. When you’re transporting a car, the dimensions are predictable and there isn’t as much labor and planning involved.

There are so many more variables for fine art: the installation, the desinstallation, gauging the amount of time a job will take, funky crate sizes, the sensitivity of the pieces, the value of the works…it’s a whole different ball game. It’s a lot of spatial visualization while trying to be as efficient as possible –  it’s a total balancing act!

Tony: We try to be mindful about the value of all the works on the truck as well. Having an understanding of art history is an important component to scheduling: we have to know a fair amount about the works being transported to be able to gauge their value. If we know that a lot of high value works are being transported for different clients on a given day, we’ll try to make sure those works are spread out on different trucks.

Sam: We’ll also take the artwork’s safety into account. If a lot of works need to travel simultaneously, we’d rather split up a shipment rather than have works crammed together. Having 8 trucks and a van means that we have flexibility for last-minute changes and requests. It’s a big game of tetris.

Why the UOVO transportation team is special:

Tony: All of our drivers are also art handlers. Some of our drivers were artists first, which is great because they can go into a collector’s house and understand what’s in the collection and be able to talk about it, and understand the particular needs of those works of art. On the flip side,some of our staff drove first and were trained in art handling after, so they get the excitement of constantly learning something new.

Sam: They all care about the art and get excited about the jobs. And because they’re enthusiastic, they care about keeping the art as safe as possible.

On the debut of “Big Blue”:

Tony: I got to design the new truck! The chassis is brand new, and I designed the box and the innards. It’s insulated so it keeps the climate well-controlled; the inside is sealed so that it’s dust-free. I had to beg and plead to get them to make it taller: it’s 114” tall inside so we can ship monumental sculpture and paintings in big crates. A lot of museum works especially are double-crated, which adds a lot of height – this will let us take on many jobs we would have had to decline before…I always like to say “there’s no ‘no’ in UOVO” and this truck cements that!

Coming soon in People of UOVO: Matt Tusciuk on carpentry, Joseph Cornell, and the hardest light rigging job he’s ever been on.