COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho—It’s one thing to serve a community, but quite another to serve the people and place you consider your own. Rodney Makuch, general manager of U-Haul Moving and Storage of Coeur d’Alene, believes he is lucky enough to do both.
Makuch grew up in Wallace, Idaho—just 40 miles from his current U-Haul Store—never thinking he would wind up representing the Company as a standout GM.
“When I was a kid, I never pictured myself serving the community,” Makuch admitted. “I thought I’d be a heavy equipment operator in the woods or the mines.”
That affinity for equipment, combined with a degree from ITT Technical Institute, led the Idaho native to U-Haul in 2008. He served as a GM for U-Haul Moving and Storage of Nampa (Idaho) for a few years. He then became an area field manager for UHC of Idaho in 2013. It was his work as an AFM that caught the eye of UHC of Inland Northwest Marketing Company President Manny Mendez, who needed someone for a key route.
“I hired him to run Route 2, which is our busiest route,” Mendez recalled. “He not only took the challenge, but he excelled at it!”
When the Coeur d’Alene location needed new leadership in late 2014, Makuch was intrigued by the store’s close proximity to his children and his hometown. He actually arrived in Coeur d’Alene for AFM certification, only to realize that he could do even more good as the store’s GM. Mendez knew Makuch was the right person for the job
“The store was constantly losing money and getting bad customer reviews,” Makuch explained. “I felt like I had the ability to step up and turn the store around, and make it an asset to the Company.”
Doing so required the hometown feel that Makuch uses in every interaction with his customers. He combines sincerity with an eagerness to make conversation and throw in at least one mention of a service his store can provide.
“Even if some dials the wrong number, I talk to everybody,” Makuch laughed. “We get quite a few people who call the wrong number. The first words offered to them are, ‘Will you be needing self-storage today?’”
Self-storage in particular has made a complete turnaround since Makuch took over as the store’s GM. His location now sports 98 percent self-storage occupancy, making it one of the top 100 stores in the Company in that regard. Mendez is thrilled with the change.
“It’s like night and day,” he gushed.
Makuch, however, would rather set new goals instead of resting on those already completed. Next on his agenda is to have a sizable waiting list of customers in need of self-storage units. It’s a goal he believes is attainable thanks to the rooms’ climate-control feature to counteract the area’s frigid winter temperatures.
“I do have competitors around, but I have no competition because nobody offers what we have to offer,” Makuch proclaimed.
Mendez is grateful to have a GM who isn’t afraid to dream big and who also has the trust of his customers.
“He turned that sucker around!” Mendez cheered. “He’s very profitable. He turned that store around when everybody was saying that it couldn’t happen.”
Instead, Makuch believes anything can happen because of a firm belief in the value of the hometown treatment.
“If you have heart, you’re going to care about who comes through your door,” Makuch reflected. “I can fine-tune and I can teach mechanical skills, I can preach to them to use the Customer Service Form, I can teach electrical troubleshooting. But I can’t teach heart. That’s why everyone here honestly cares about individuals who come through the door.”
Because of that philosophy, more and more people are walking through that door every day.
Has a U-Haul team member ever given you the same type of sincere, personable service like the type Makuch provides? Let us know!