WEST WARWICK, R.I.—When Raymond Greenhalgh opened a service station in West Warwick in 1954, he didn’t see it as anything fancy.
“I guess you could say it was your average gas station, with two repair bays,” his son, David Greenhalgh, noted.
While the facility itself may have been ordinary, the people who operated the business itself were nothing short of extraordinary. The Greenhalgh family added a U-Haul Dealership in 1960, a partnership that would end up lasting 48 years.
“My dad saw what a tremendous opportunity partnering with U-Haul would provide, so we came on board with the Company,” recalled David, who was 4 years old when his dad became a U-Haul Dealer.
The Greenhalghs added a rental store to the service station location in 1969, renting general equipment, party goods and tools for homeowners and general contractors. When they lost their lease for the gas station in 1984, the family left the service station business and moved their rental store and U-Haul Dealership to a new location, where they remained for the next 24 years.
This was a true family business from the day Raymond Greenhalgh opened his doors. David Greenhalgh and his four siblings grew up helping out their parents, though only three of them worked there when they were teenagers and older.
“I started working there when I was 14, even before I got my driver’s license,” David reminisced. “Often, I worked with my older sister, Bobbi Bowman. Our older brother worked there when he was in college, but I was still pretty young then.”
Working with family can lead to some headaches, but the Greenhalghs found ways to make it fun.
“It was nice,” David emphasized. “For the most part, we enjoyed it. There were some tense times, but there were enough things to do to keep us busy, so it never was a big deal.
“We had a good variety of things to do around the business,” he continued. “We were never bored.”
As the years went by, Raymond and David were the only two family members involved in the business. Raymond’s health forced him to step away in the late 2000s, leaving David as the only family member involved in the business. In 2008, David Greenhalgh decided to sell the business.
But that wasn’t the end of his U-Haul career, as he became a field relief manager for U-Haul Company of Rhode Island. Within a few months, he took over as general manager at U-Haul Moving and Storage of Cumberland, R.I., where he remains today.
“It was a seamless transition going from the dealership to a U-Haul Store,” David stressed. “I had a lot of valuable experience running a dealership for so many years. In fact, many of the things I had to do manually as a dealer are done automatically by the computer now, so it’s really nice.”
That David Greenhalgh is still a part of Team U-Haul is no surprise to Kent Reynolds, area field manager for U-Haul Company of Rhode Island.
“The Greenhalghs were and are dyed-in-the-wool U-Haul people,” Reynolds proclaimed. “They were well-known in the area for their rental business, and they always had a lot of rotation U-Haul equipment, because they were very good at renting it out.
“Just about everyone in the area has done business with them at some point, it seems,” he continued, “whether for the rental business or U-Haul rentals. The Greenhalghs were a fixture in this area for several decades. And because David is now a U-Haul GM, the connection between U-Haul and the Greenhalgh family lives on!”
Is there a family business that’s been around for a long time in your community? Tell us about them in the comments section below.