TAMPA, Fla.—Anyone reaching the “double nickel” benchmark of U-Haul service (their 55-year anniversary) is singled out for special attention by their local field entity. You don’t get to notch 55 years if you’re a slouch or a goof-off, and arguably the best example of that statement is Transfer Driver Francisco Castillo, who now moonlights with UHC of Tampa.
After joining Team U-Haul as a shop clerk for Kar-Go Service Center of Tampa on August 23, 1960, Castillo climbed his personal ladder of success …demonstrating his excellent work ethic as a repairman, area field manager, MARS operator, mobile repair specialist, trailer shop foreman, Kar-Go shop president, partsman, parts coordinator, material handler, repairer and van body specialist.
One can truly say that Castillo has “been there, done that” over his five and a half decades of U-Haul service.
In the old days
Castillo remembers that the first work he did in what was then the new Shop 193 consisted of repairing trailers so as to keep them serving U-Haul customers, and overhauling them as the equipment aged.
“For the most part, we weren’t working on trucks at the time,” Castillo said. “We were involved with painting, decaling, working on trailer tongues. But today, things are much more advanced, because trailers are put together differently.”
From sandblasting on up
Castillo’s first job at the shop was sandblasting.
“We’d take off the old wood and sandblast the frames before rebuilding the trailers,” he recalled. “About a month after starting with the shop, I moved on to paint and decals. Back then, we had decals that were soaked in water before being applied to trailers, which definitely were a far cry from the peel-and-sticks of today.”
Before long, Castillo had moved on to woodworking, installing trailer floors and roofs, and then focusing on undercarriages and brakes.
“You name it, I’ve done it,” he stated proudly.
Though not a computer person himself (Castillo is “off the grid” when it comes to PCs and Macs), he observed that computerization revolutionized the way the Company does business.
“Things just run more efficiently,” he confirmed. “And these days, there seems to be less maintenance that’s needed on rental equipment, which stays together longer. In the old days,” Castillo continued, “we used marine plywood for the sides of our trailers, and the wood would rot after ‘x’ number of years … and leak. The material we used back then was nothing like the fiberglass reinforced plywood U-Haul trailers feature today.”
Challenging and rewarding
“It’s been both challenging and rewarding to work on U-Haul equipment,” Castillo remarked. “The work I was involved in at the shop was similar to the work done at the Technical Center: We’d put in whole new side panels, whole new roofs.”
But repair work became more difficult for Castillo, who is now 75 years old. So these days he transfers rental equipment to and from dealerships and stores, the shop and the marketing company. It’s a transition that’s worked just fine for someone who emphasizes that U-Haul is a great place to be.
“The truth is, I have no formal education,” Castillo admitted. “However, U-Haul has taught me a lot and enabled me to grow as a person. This job is very valuable to me because I don’t want to just sit at home doing nothing.”
Success over time
Castillo attributes his longevity and success to being on the job and doing what U-Haul requires of him, day in and day out, year in and year out.
“I’m a working person,” he emphasized. “For me, life is about working, working, working. As long as you do what you’re told … and do it right … you’ll have a job here at U-Haul. Showing up for the job and working hard are extremely important if you want to achieve success with this Company.”
“Francisco has a passion for his work and an inseparable bond between U-Haul and providing customers only with high-quality rental equipment. He inspects every piece of equipment he drives to and from our repair shop to our dealerships and stores,” praised Marketing Company President Bob Magyar, UHC of Tampa.
“He is a role model for our new team members,” Magyar continued, “especially young technicians who are just starting their careers with the Company. We love to hear Francisco’s stories of his experiences over the years. They help us realize how far we have come with technology and improved products for our customers.
“Francisco is an inspiration to all team members who know him,” Magyar added, “and we congratulate him on 55 wonderful years of service to our team and our customers.”
Francisco, thank you so much for your 55 years of service to U-Haul Company. We’re tremendously grateful for everything you’ve done to help keep U-Haul Number One with self-moving customers in Florida. Happy 55th!
If you want to congratulate Francisco or have any memories of Francisco from the past half-century-plus, share them in the comments!