Community Service Runs in the Hazel Family

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.—Every U-Haul Dealership is built on service. After all, without a strong commitment to providing exceptional customer service, they wouldn’t be awarded a U-Haul Dealership in the first place, and without maintaining that commitment they wouldn’t be part of Team U-Haul for long.

With all that said, Jim Hazel’s Citgo and U-Haul Dealership stands out when it comes to service. And it all starts with Jim Hazel Sr. and Jr., who added U-Haul rentals to their father-son service station in 1961.

Jim Hazel Jr. with Frosted Flakes Boxes 2006
Jim Hazel Jr. with some custom-made cereal boxes in 2006, when his dealership celebrated 45 years with U-Haul.

“Community service is just something we do; it’s never been an optional thing in our family,” declared Jim Hazel III, who now operates the family business that his father and grandfather started.

“It goes back to an old Chinese proverb that says, ‘When you drink from the well, remember the well digger,’” Hazel III continued. “We were taught that you didn’t get where you are by yourself; someone else was there along the way to help you succeed. That’s something our parents and grandparents stressed to us.”

Jim Hazel Jr. always viewed his U-Haul business as a way to be more involved in his community.

“You know those signs that welcome you to town and are sponsored by various service organizations?” Hazel III asked. “Chances are my dad was involved in all of those organizations at some point. He was very involved in the community. I’ll bet every politician in the state came through our doors at some point over the last 50 years to talk to my dad.”

Jim Hazel III 55 Years
Jim Hazel III is celebrating his family’s 55th anniversary with U-Haul.

Early skepticism

Jim Hazel Sr. and Jr. joined forces with U-Haul in 1961, but the elder Hazel was skeptical about it at first. Hazel Jr. assured his dad he would handle the U-Haul business, and they experienced many successes. In 1964, Hazel Jr. opened his own service station and brought the U-Haul Dealership with him.

Today, Jim Hazel’s Citgo and U-Haul Dealership remains at that same location, with Jim Hazel III doing everything he learned from his father and grandfather, who have since passed away.

“I started working here when I was 13,” he recalled. “I didn’t really know anything else growing up. I worked here through high school and thought 40 hours was part time, which is actually true when you run your own business. My dad and grandpa could always outwork me!”

Upholding legacies

Jim Hazel III with Dad's Photo
Jim Hazel III says he tries to run the business in his dad’s memory and uphold the legacy his dad and grandpa created.

As he looks back on his family dealership’s 55 years with U-Haul, Hazel III sees himself as a sort of caretaker of his father’s and grandfather’s legacies.

“That’s the main reason I’m still here,” Hazel III stressed. “I try to run this place in my dad’s memory and uphold the legacy that he and my grandpa created. I spent so many years working with my dad, who is the person who made this work through all these years.

“I have some very large shoes to fill,” he continued. “I don’t think I can totally fill them, but I sure try every day.”

What are you passionate about helping in your community?  Tell us in the comments!

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