The following is an interview with the Program Manager of Field Ops Support, Kyle Royer, and was conducted by Timothy Armstrong on May 10, 2016.
Tim: How long have you been employed with U-Haul?
Kyle: Going on 8 years, I started in February of 2009.
Tim: What qualities do you see in U-Haul that have made you stay for so long?
Kyle: Well, a little background – both my parents work for U-Haul. Mom is going to have her 40th anniversary this month. My dad’s going on 35, and my brother, who works in U-Box, is going on 9. I don’t really know the right word to put on it, but it’s family oriented and they seem like they’re driven to provide for a future for an entire family if you want to enjoy what you do and make a difference. When you grow up around it since day one and you can remember how different it was back then to how it is now, and what a change we’ve made with the new equipment; it just makes you know that you’re working for someone who is going to be around for awhile.
Tim: So you’re saying if you want to work for someone who allows you to make a difference, work for U-Haul?
Kyle: Absolutely, I think they value their employees, their visions and their ideas. Nobody is closed off either, a CSR has just as much to say as a President. I think everybody’s ideas and opinions are heard. If somebody wants to be promoted I don’t think they are held back. We have a lot of people who have started off as a CSR in the field.
Tim: Which positions have you held during your time here, and which one do you feel taught you the most?
Kyle: I started as a CSR in North and South Scottsdale, I worked there for about two years. Then, I got a job here working in the towers under Cleo Crimmins as an Internal Audit Research Assistant. Once she retired and my dad took over, I became an auditor. I worked there for two years and now for the last year and a half I’ve been in Bob Wesson’s group in Field Operations Support. I couldn’t say one taught me more than the other. You learn a ton in the field. What we do in here, and what our perceptions are, are much different than reality sometimes. When you’re on the front line and you see what kind of questions customers are having, or how to do a rental, or help someone to the car, or how much energy it takes to be out there; I think you just have a better idea of who we’re supporting and why we’re doing what we’re doing. But at the towers you get a better idea of the corporate structure and realize nothing can be changed overnight. People work their butt’s off; a company this big takes a lot of thoughtful, hard-working individuals to support those front-line people. So working in both the towers and the field collectively have helped me grow.
Tim: Describe your current role, and what are your favorite aspects of what you do?
Kyle: I’m the Program Manager for Field Ops Support, and we support the field. That’s anything from taking a call for a new dealer prospect, to helping someone through a contract, creating new programs or procedures, or IT stuff to help people’s jobs be faster. All the iPad apps you see out there that AFM’s are using we’ve had a hand in helping create and support. All the main programs you see out there are supported by our group, which I think is neat because that’s where I started. So I can look back and say, “That makes sense, but I’ve been there and I’ve done that, and I don’t know if they’re going to do that. It’s a good idea, but here’s what they typically do.” It allows me to be an advocate for the front-lines and not lose sight of what the reality of the matter is.
Tim: Growing up, what values were instilled in you that set you up to succeed?
Kyle: I think a big part of it was sports. Mom always kept us involved in a sport whether it was soccer, baseball, football, track, basketball. Whatever it was, if we wanted to do it, she figured out a way to make it happen. She’d come all the way up to Cave Creek from work here in Downtown Phoenix to pick us up, and if there was something we wanted to do she’d sign us up for it. I think perseverance, hard work, learning to be on a team, and leadership; you learn all that through sports. I think their support of us as kids and putting us in all those programs was pretty impactful, because a day doesn’t seem as hard when you compare it to doing two-a-days in football and having homework to do as well, all while trying to be a kid at the same time.
Tim: Where did you go to school, and what was the most important thing you learned in your studies?
Kyle: I went to school up in Cave Creek at Cactus Shadows High School. I would hate to say studies weren’t the main goal in school, but I think the social aspect of being in school and also being educated in general was what taught me the most. I can’t say there was one teacher, class, or topic that helped more than the others, but it was more altogether, collectively impactful. The discipline that comes with waking up on time, having to do homework, adapting to different teachers and getting good grades, that’s what helped me the most.
Tim: Is there anything you wish you could tell your younger self that you’ve learned throughout your working years?
Kyle: Enjoy the moments. I have a lot of sports analogies, but for example in senior year you always have a senior day where you go and give your parents a rose and it’s always the last game. The coaches tell you, “This is the most important game in your life, you’re never going to have another game like this. So play until you can’t play anymore.” Sometimes I think you lose sight of those moments and how important they were as a kid, but then you get here and you think, “Man, those were some of the best memories ever.” So I think you need to live in the moment, not get to ahead of yourself, and make the best of today.
Tim: What are you passionate about outside of work?
Kyle: Continuing to be educated, successful, and growing as a person. Whether that’s with a family or within a company. Whatever it is I want to try and be the best person I can be, and live up to the standards and values that my parents instilled in me.
Tim: Do you have any U-Haul role models, and how have they helped you grow?
Kyle: Cleo Climmins was, if anybody knows her, a very interesting lady. Very, very hard-working and smart. Her and I were nowhere near the same person, but she was one of those people who adapted and treated everyone differently. You always hear that you should treat everyone the same, but that’s not a fair way to think of it because we all have different personalities. She was this very intelligent person who drove you to be better, and sometimes it was the “tough love” style. Her way of coming to work and enjoying it and being healthy; she’s definitely one that I think about emulating. Certainly, my parents as well. They’re both completely different people. My dad is very cool, calm and collected, while my mom is very driven… and I don’t want to say not cool calm and collected, but she can get really excited in certain situations. Their different types of leadership and management skills are things I very much look up to and try to build into my own character.
Tim: What are your hopes or goals for your future at U-Haul?
Kyle: One of my goals in my current position and in any position that I have been in or will be in the future, is being part of impacting and creating a better experience for the customer and like with everything, accomplishing U-Haul’s Primary Service Objective, “To provide a better and better product and service to more and more people at a lower and lower cost”. I also want to continue to create and be a part of change. I like being on the winning team, and I think that’s why I like being part of U-Haul; it’s a winning team. There are a lot of little teams within U-Haul that make it a winner. Someday I’d like to be in a leadership position to help others grow and hopefully build on their careers to help them be successful as well.
Tim: Do you have any closing thoughts or words of wisdom?
Kyle: Learn from other people. Use people as resources because more minds are better than one. We don’t always have the answer, but the answer is out there, and there are some brilliant minds out there as well. Feed off them, learn from them, and learn from mistakes. We all make them. Learn from positive outcomes as well. Last but not least, work hard. I think that’s a given, but I think if you work hard and come to work with a positive attitude and a “we can do it” mentality, you’ll get it done and you can do whatever you want to do. This is the kind of company where if you really want to be something, they’ll help you get there.
As Kyle mentioned in his interview, he isn’t the only member of the Royer family who is a part of team U-Haul! Coming soon we will have his brother Chasan’s MyUhaulStory as well!
Kyle believes living in the moment and making the best of today is important. What are some ways you focus on today? Tell us in the comments!