Back when U-Haul rental equipment carried the message “ONE WAY ANYWHERE,” Lovell was just about as “anywhere” as you could get. Located in the north-central U.S. not far from the Montana/Wyoming border, the town of 2,360 (as of the 2010 census) features beautiful scenery, outstanding recreational opportunities and the history of Big Horn Country … all of which are difficult to match.
“Lovell is a small western town with friendly folks,” its chamber of commerce noted proudly, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a friendlier or warmer person than 55-year U-Haul Dealer Lewis Walker, Walker’s Service and U-Haul Dealership.
Walker’s uniqueness stems from the fact that he’s the original dealer running a continuously operating dealership, though for the past 35 years his son Greg has helped out with day-to-day chores at the business.
Changes over the years
“Back when I first joined up with U-Haul Company, it was an entirely different company,” Walker acknowledged, “and a lot of what we did could best be described as flying by the seat of our pants. But dealers and the Company held things together.”
“First off, we had excellent equipment with which to serve the self-moving public,” Walker explained. “And then there was (co-founder L.S.) Sam Shoen, who worked very well with our dealers. Both Sam and the Company gave us a lot of leeway in getting our job done.
“And today,” he added, “our equipment is much better, thanks to how U-Haul has evolved over time.”
As with many other long-time dealers, Walker is fond of remembering how lighting hookups were made in the early years.
“It sure was a lot of fun,” he chuckled. “Back when I started, we used safety pins for wiring hookups. You’d find the hot wire near the car’s taillight,” Lewis explained, “then you’d run a safety pin through it to power up the trailer’s lighting, and away the customer went.”
Key factors to success
Making a U-Haul Dealership successful is no easy task, though caring and a helpful personality go a long way toward making the goal achievable. As for Walker, his business practices involve huge amounts of thoughtfulness, patience and a willingness to do whatever it takes to help a customer.
“You absolutely must be people oriented,” Walker stressed, “because if you’re not, you’ll never succeed as a U-Haul Dealer. I’ve made many friends over the years,” he added, “people who moved to town, turned in their U-Haul equipment and stayed on as customers for my primary business … and they’ve stayed friends over the years.”
Walker emphasized the absolute need for U-Haul Dealers to do their best to please every customer and get them on their way. For Walker, the customer always comes first.
“Clearly, people come to us because we’re the moving experts,” Walker explained. “Most folks don’t have any idea what size equipment they’ll need. So that’s where our expertise comes in,” he noted. “You’ve got to listen to what your customers are saying and be there for them during a very stressful time in their lives.”
What’s vital, Walker noted, is to get customers on their way as quickly as possible.
“It’s stressful enough to move without running people around the block and giving them a bad time,” Walker remarked. “People don’t need any more stress than they already have when renting U-Haul equipment.”
U-Haul AFM Kyle Moody has high praise for Walker and his service to the community.
“Back when Lewis became a valued member of Team U-Haul, the average price of gas was $.32 per gallon. So you can see how times have changed,” Moody related. “But the one thing which has remained the same is that if you need to rent U-Haul equipment in Lovell, Wyoming, you visit Walker’s Service.
“Lewis has been going strong since the day he joined U-Haul Company back in 1960 and his 55 years of caring deserve our admiration,” Moody added.
“Lewis’ dedication and hard work are notable achievements,” he continued, “and in recognition of his accomplishments, I worked with his son Greg to have the stock of a rifle engraved, to honor Lewis’ commitment to providing a better and better product and service to more and more people at a lower and lower cost.”
Thank you for your 55 years of superb service to U-Haul customers in and around Lovell, Lewis. We appreciate everything you’ve done to keep U-Haul Number 1 in the hearts and minds of customers on the move. Happy 55th!