GALVESTON, Texas—Before the moon landing in 1969, before the Beatles came to America in 1964, before Elvis’ racy hips made their shocking debut on national television in 1956 … even before color television … Coleman’s Gulf Service Station, now Hicks & Hicks Automotive and U-Haul Dealership, joined the U-Haul family.
December 1952, only seven years after U-Haul was founded, marked the beginning of the Company’s longest-serving dealership. Wesley and Eddie Hicks worked at the service station and U-Haul Dealership from the beginning, and in 1969 they bought the business from their friend, John Coleman.
It wasn’t long before Wesley’s 12-year-old son, Bobby, began helping out for a little extra money.
“My uncle gave me a chamois and a milk crate to stand on so I could reach the center of the windshields of any car that stopped for gas,” Bobby recalled. “I learned a lot from my dad, uncle and Mr. Coleman. They become smarter and smarter the older I get. I still use their philosophies to this day.”
Hicks & Hicks has stood the test of time through years of adversity, upsets and changes. In 1984, Bobby’s uncle, Eddie, passed away. Soon after, Bobby and his father decided to convert the service station to a repair shop. The Hicks duo served the community of Galveston for many years, before Wesley passed away in 1996. Their commitment to great service lives on, as Bobby hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned from both his father and uncle.
“They always told me to take care of your customers and you’ll stay in business,” Bobby remembered. “People will come back to you as long as you take care of them and do what you tell them you’re going to do. They might not like what you have to say, but they’ll come back to you if you’re honest.”
After 60 years, this advice has proven valuable for Bobby. In 2006, Bobby relocated the dealership to a new facility a few miles away in Galveston, and added a “junk store.” Though he was worried that the change in location would hurt his business, he faced that challenge and plowed through it with the same determined spirit that has served him his whole life.
“Life is going to change no matter what,” Bobby advised. “That’s just the way it is. Things change. There’s just no other way to put it. Sometimes it’s up. Sometimes it’s down. You just have do what you can do and move on.”
As the longest-serving—and only—U-Haul Dealership in Galveston, Bobby has mile-deep roots in the area and with the Company. You can’t sneeze in Galveston without someone who knows Bobby saying “gesundheit.”
“Galveston is a ‘small big town,’” Bobby mentioned. “I know everybody, or at least their faces. And, being a U-Haul Dealer has helped with that. I really enjoy working with everyone in the Company—especially my area field manager, Marcus Leonard. I can’t say enough good things about him.”
“I’ve known Bobby for years,” Leonard volunteered. “He’s a great guy with a lot of character. He’s a man of his word. Bobby works hard for his customers and they trust him and are loyal to him. He’s had people coming to him for years and years because he provides quality service.”
“I’ve known Bobby for seven years,” asserted Area Field Manager and District Certifier Charles Simmons. “He’s a staple of the city and he’s incredibly dedicated to his dealership and his customers. He’s seen it all and he takes pride in his work.”
Local business owner and long-time customer, Robert Robinson, was eager to sing Bobby’s praises.
“I’ve been doing business with Bobby for 10 years and before that, my dad was working with Bobby’s dad,” Robinson expressed. “He’s been a family friend for a long time. He’s always done me right and takes care of me whenever I need help. He’s a really genuine guy who always tells it like it is, which is rare.”
“I’ve only known Bobby for a short time, but I’ve been impressed with his work ethic and dedication,” praised Matt Merrill, marketing company president of U-Haul of West Houston. “He’s definitely ‘Mr. U-Haul’ in Galveston and everyone loves him. After 60 years in business, he’s obviously doing a lot of things right!”
“The U-Haul customer gets a great deal when trading with U-Haul because they get the experience of team members like Bobby,” declared U-Haul CEO Joe Shoen. “What Bobby does creates a better life for all Americans.”
Do you have a U-Haul Dealership near you? What makes them a unique part of your community?