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Mover has his own version of the clean and jerk

Another in a series profiling Tampa Bay area residents at work whose talents and dedication compare with Olympic athletes.

To hoist an 800-pound piano into the air and delicately place it in a moving truck does not require brawn so much as belief that one can.

So says Gary Clausen, who at 160 pounds, 5 feet 6 and 45 years of age can haul furniture with the best of the crew at Clausen Brothers Moving & Storage Inc.

"Size does matter, but you've got that mind over matter thing, too," says Clausen, president of Clausen Brothers. "It all reverts back to endurance. If you have good stamina, you can do it."

Carrying furniture and boxes was Clausen's primary training for three St. Anthony's Triathlons, though he admits his last one in 1995 "just about killed me."

He'd rather chase success in business.

He started Clausen Brothers in 1986, after arriving from Chicago to find Florida's mild winters agreeable but the state's wages abysmal. He opened with one brother and a single truck. By year two, they tripled their revenues. Today, five of the eight Clausen brothers and 10 to 12 employees handle an average of 20 in-state moves a week.

"I think we're the only company that promises speed," he says, explaining customers pay by the hour. "We earn our money."

Although Clausen still talks about the 3-hour 2-minute marathon he ran 10 years ago, he jogs once or twice a week now. He would live on Kraft Macaroni and Cheese if his wife Carla didn't push "salads and health foods."

He can sniff out when his brother Mark is making homemade chili or a couple hundred buffalo wings.

He can expound for 10 minutes on the correct way to pack a truck.

But Clausen's real contribution is as idea man. He conceived the "Eight Brothers Helping Others" slogan painted on the sides of the trucks.

"We do a lot of good-will stuff, a lot of charity," by providing staff, trucks or time to SHARE food banks, hurricane relief efforts or at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg, where Clausen is a Sunday school teacher.

"When we were kids, we were poor. People did for us. It's paying back," he says, plus good public relations for the company.

Being a success is not about being the strongest, or youngest, Clausen says.

"In the Olympics, the girl from France (Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli) won the gold medal in cycling. She's 37 years old. It's not just strength," Clausen says. "It's knowing what to do."