J. Paul Levine, 2016 Hall of Honor Recipient
J. Paul Levine is known as one of the most beloved figures in the moving industry from the time he took over his father, David Levine's, company in the 1950's, until his passing in August of 2007. However, what made him such a beloved man professionally and an icon in the field can be traced back to the philanthropic, compassionate, and dynamic man he was at home as well as his partnership with his wife Deanie.
Paul, as his three sons James, Roger, & Larry, and his daughter Sally, will tell you, was a deeply intelligent, perceptive, athletic, compassionate and multi-talented man who was attuned to the needs of others as well as the community. Patriotic to his core and inspired by his own father's military service during WWI and contributions to the country during WWII (his father manufactured our nation’s GI blankets and worked on the development of our country's infra-structure & highway system), Paul served in the U.S. Air Force, participating in the production of the F101 jet fighter plane. While at the University of Connecticut he met the woman who would be the love of his life, Deanie. Perhaps as a foreshadowing of his future professional life in the transportation industry, Paul met Deanie when he spotted her stranded on the side of the highway one Saturday evening and stopped his car to help her change a flat tire. As it turned out, Deanie had personal roots in transportation as well. As a young girl in the Depression, Deanie drove a truck daily (delivering eggs from her family's chicken farm) and had a known passion for cars. Together, they created a strong and loving family, moving from New Haven (where New Haven Companies originated), to Dallas, Texas, and finally to Los Angeles, California in the late 1950s, where they brought up their family.
Paul inculcated in his four children the values he held dear, including the importance of selfless service and the giving of charity (something he avidly and consummately devoted himself to during his entire life), and the premiere importance of business ethics and personal integrity. While many who knew Paul well loved him for his goodness of character, philanthropic activities, and family orientation, others loved him for his wit, dynamic personality, and charisma. He was, in the words of many, a "man's man." And he was a man of cultural refinement as well—an avid reader who could discuss philosophy, religion, and the arts with depth, intellect and passion.
Despite the multiplicity of his talents and the hours he spent raising money for charity (with hundreds of hours a year going toward raising money for children’s hospitals), most of his time was spent serving the needs of the moving community--an industry he cared deeply about. He felt that in building up New Haven Moving Equipment, he was creating a meaningful business predicated on positive values and the juxtaposition of quality engineering and innovative designs—one that would be passed on with love to his children in later years.. But just as important, he would be helping to make an entire industry—the Moving industry—thrive.
As a result of Paul’s passion for the industry, he took great joy in working on the design and development of advanced textile machinery. In fact, with his leadership, his sons James, Roger and Larry were to later develop the first robotics machine in the United States that finished furniture moving pads—with factories utilizing robotics and lasers in Louisville, Kentucky and Los Angeles, California.
Although Paul made substantial engineering contributions to the industry, he is perhaps best known for his generosity of spirit and exemplary character. As his son James recounts, “To this day, whenever my brothers or I are at a movers conference, people will stop us to tell a story about our father and how he helped them professionally or personally—whether through his advice, generosity or insights. And I constantly note how people’s faces will virtually light up when they talk about him, whether about his famous humor, his boyish charm, or mostly about how he would make someone feel.”
Although Paul and New Haven served the Moving industry in general, the international community was particularly dear to his heart. He was always excited to work on products that could be used by international movers to make their jobs easier and more successful, and cherished his relationships with IAM and its membership. In fact, he was one of IAM's most stalwart early supporters and served as a catalyst for the supplier community gaining prominence within IAM's membership. In addition, through his efforts toward attending and supporting the early conventions in every way he could, creatively and financially, he helped establish its trade show, which has now grown to be the largest in the industry. Through the impact Paul Levine had on so many, and his genuine love for his customers and colleagues as well as the industry itself, Paul embodied the true spirit of the industry.
Paul would therefore be proud to know that his sons James, Roger and Larry continue his legacy in their management of New Haven, striving at all times to stay at the forefront of product development while maintaining their father’s deeply felt mission to always value, first and foremost, the people with whom and for whom he, and now they, serve.