It’s not every day you have the privilege of sharing a meal and constructive conversation with the mayor in a city the size of Phoenix.
Yet that was the case for the four U-Haul marketing company presidents who oversee operations in and around the Valley, as well as chief sustainability scientist Dr. Allan Yang. The U-Haul quintet recently sat down with Mayor Greg Stanton and his wife, Nicole, for a cordial December lunch at The Parlor pizzeria on East Camelback Road.
Tim Parker (U-Haul Company of Metro Phoenix and the East Valley), Jason Turcotte (UHC of Western Arizona), Mark Buford (UHC of Northern Arizona), Andy Smith (UHC of Eastern Arizona) and Yang and shared their thoughts on everything from U-Haul sustainability initiatives and products to the demand for U-Haul neighborhood dealers and services in all parts of town.
It was a great chance to forge a stronger relationship with a freshly re-elected mayor while discussing common ground on many initiatives.
“In his job, Mayor Stanton has to see the forest and rarely gets to focus on the trees,” Buford said. “We were able to explain what U-Haul means to neighborhoods as far as sustainability and convenience. We spoke about how people could literally sell the trucks they use only 3-4 times a year to haul stuff and use community vehicles instead. They understood why we wanted 18,000 neighborhood dealer locations with a few trucks rather than 18,000 mega-stores with 100 trucks each.
“We talked about the nuances of our sustainability products like furniture pads (made from recycled denim) and how our biodegradable packing peanuts are made from corn starch. One of us made a joke about putting cheese sauce over them for a dietary treat. We have the Take a Box, Leave a Box program … and Nicole volunteered how great the construction of our boxes are – how strong they are. She said she let neighbors borrow her boxes and then got them back.”
Stanton is a proponent of adaptive reuse projects and reducing blight in Phoenix, which meshes with the sustainable practice U-Haul has for acquiring old properties to open new stores.
“Adaptive reuse is a significant initiative for carbon reduction in communities,” Yang said. “We found a lot of common ground between U-Haul goals and the City of Phoenix’s goals on this, and we were able to talk about some of our adaptive reuse projects in Detroit, Philadelphia and Memphis.”
“Our 67th and Bell Road location (in Glendale) was converted to storage from a furniture store,” Buford added. “Phoenix is waiving permit fees for companies who are going to do reuse projects. There was a lot of positive information to come out of this.”
Stanton and Yang have an established relationship. Yang, a board member for the Phoenix Sister Cities program, served as a city commissioner and mayoral liaison during a November trip to Chengdu, China, while participating in the 2015 Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fair.
“These forums provide an opportunity to talk to mayors about how U-Haul contributes to sustainability directly,” Yang said. “When I attend conferences, I get the chance to meet a lot of mayors across the U.S. and, a lot of times, they just don’t know.”
Has U-Haul reduced blight in your community by converting a vacant building in a new store? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.