TEMPE, ARIZ. – U-Haul International Inc. considers a close relationship with Arizona State University and the prestigious W.P. Carey School of Business to be much more than a neighborly gesture.
It’s simply smart business.
Not only have numerous past and present U-Haul Team Members hailed from ASU, but many future leaders of the Company are likely to garner a degree from the Carey School of Business, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication or some other branch of the nation’s most attended public university.
Current ASU students take advantage of U-Haul Company’s paid internship program to receive school credit, and sometimes those internships spawn full-time employment.
U-Haul Executive Vice President Stuart Shoen received his MBA from the Carey School of Business and is one of 66 distinguished professionals serving on its Dean’s Council.
Don Cerimeli, the Director of Purchasing and Logistics at the U-Haul Technical Center in Tempe (and a 29-year U-Haul veteran), enjoys one of the more visible roles at ASU on behalf of the Phoenix-based moving giant.
Cerimeli is a member of the Network for Value Chain Excellence at the Carey School of Business. He recently gave a supply-chain presentation on U-Haul for other business leaders during one of ASU’s biannual network events.
Supply chain, in a nutshell, is the management of producing, handling and distributing a product. Cerimeli describes it as the notion of “cradle to grave” for anything a company sells.
“It’s a huge honor to be there, represent the company and really try to connect with ASU so we get a better look at the talent that’s coming out of there relative to the supply chain,” Cerimeli said. “It helps our cause and, of course, it’s good to be a partner to ASU.”
The U-Haul supply chain is unique compared to most companies. Attendees learned this at the network event.
“A lot of companies are selling a product,” Cerimeli said. “Are they making that product? Not necessarily. For us, it includes the whole gamut, from building the truck to shipping boxes to a location.”
Cerimeli took the room on a quick history tour of U-Haul via PowerPoint presentation, and then wowed onlookers by informing them that there were considerably more U-Haul neighborhood dealers than there were McDonald’s® restaurants.
An old photo of the 1.25-mile U-Haul Tech Center test track in a dusty and desolate Tempe, circa 1977, captured everyone’s attention as well.
From the designing and building of its trailers and truck boxes to the Company’s assembly and metal fabrication plants, Cermeli offered an educational look at an all-inclusive U-Haul mindset regarding the supply chain.
“From a do-it-yourself standpoint, we’ve decided we’ll do it, we’ll take it,” Cerimeli said. “We don’t like to rely too much on the outside.
“We have ownership that stays very involved in every aspect of our business. What that’s allowed us to do in supply chain is really make good decisions, to really step off and not be afraid to do something different. Having support of ownership is real important (in that process).”
When Cerimeli and other network members concluded their remarks, they served as judges for presentations that 11 teams of Carey business students had stationed in the hallway.
The students’ topics ranged from aerospace and automotive to financial markets and green materials, with the objective of packaging the best research to support their chosen trend. The top two groups were allowed to make their presentations before the class and network later that day.
“I loved it,” Cerimeli said. “I enjoy the interaction with these kids. They give you an idea of what the pulse is in the community. They have this fresh perspective on a changing world. For us, it opens our eyes for a little while and says we’ve got to continue to look outside the box.
“I had lunch with four or five students and that’s where you find out what’s happening, what they’re doing and what they like and don’t like. They ask us what we do in interviews, what are we looking for, and with supply chain being such a big field, what should they do. We try to guide them through their infinite career decisions, and with some, hopefully, point to what UHaul has to offer. We’re a local, family-run company in Phoenix where the opportunities are fantastic.”