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The History of Coakley Brothers

Coakley Brothers was founded in 1888 by two brothers Bill and Charlie Coakley. They opened their first warehouse in the heart of downtown Milwaukee on Wisconsin Avenue. During this period, the only methods of commercial transportation in Milwaukee was boat or rail. Goods would be shipped in trunks and crates which Coakley Brothers picked up in the coaches and buggies of the time, and delivered into town.

Fast forward almost two decades and the two brothers started running sightseeing tours along Lake Drive. During the week they would use the flatbed trucks for the deliveries, but on weekends, they would convert them by adding seats to be used for the tours.

Then in 1933, Coakley Brothers became an agent of what is now one of the largest van lines in America, Allied Van Lines. This new partnership paved the way for a full-service, long-distance moving operation for Coakley Brothers.

A few years after that, Charlie Coakley bought out his brother’s share of the company. As a family business, he asked two of his nephews, George and Charlie Coakley, to work at the company. Charlie and George Coakley ran the business until 1952. Since George Coakley never had children, their sister Georgia’s children, along with the children of Charlie Coakley, inherited the business.

Charlie had 5 children and Georgia had 6, all with ownership rights to the company. However, Chuck and Neil purchased the company from their family members. From 1953 to 1978 Chuck and Neil rolled up their sleeves and started to build up the brand “Coakley Brothers.”

In 1978, Neil bought Chuck’s stock and became the sole owner of Coakley Brothers. Later that year, Neil designed the first “porta-rack,” an invention universally used in the moving industry today eliminating the need for cartons.

In 1999, Peggy Coakley, Neil Coakley’s daughter was named President and CEO of Coakley Brothers. She represents the 4th generation of Coakley Brothers to lead the company. Since then, the company has more than doubled in size and expanded service offerings into the Madison market. Peggy broadened Coakley Brothers services to include Facilities Management, Warehousing, Logistics, Systems Furniture Installations, Self-Storage (Stadium Self Storage), and Furniture & Design (Brothers Business Interiors).

Today, Coakley Brothers own buildings in the Milwaukee and Madison areas with 765,000 square feet of warehousing space. Coakley Brothers continually invest in the latest technology and its people to maintain the quality of service that Milwaukee, Madison, and the rest of Wisconsin have come to know since 1888.