COLUMBIA, S.C.—Shortly after U-Haul General Manager (GM) Deborah Welch underwent breast cancer surgery, historic rainfall led to massive flooding in South Carolina. U-Haul was offering 30 days of complimentary self-storage to all flood victims, and the apartment complex near Welch’s location, U-Haul Moving and Storage at I-26, was underwater. Despite her ongoing recovery, Welch was determined to help.
“Some people lost their homes,” Welch recalled. “All I lost were my breasts.”
If it were possible to encapsulate Welch’s dauntless personality, the above quote would do it. Since starting with U-Haul in 2012, she has demonstrated unswerving devotion to the Company, her fellow team members and customers.
While she was helping local flood victims move their belongings into self-storage rooms, customers were brought to tears by the fact that Welch put her recovery on hold to help them during their time of need.
“My customers mean that much to me,” Welch asserted. “They needed me more than I needed to be at home watching TV.”
Cancer Can’t Keep Deborah Down
When Welch was diagnosed with cancer, she was understandably devastated, but not entirely surprised. Breast cancer was common in her family. But, Welch’s response to doctors was anything but common.
“They presented me with all my treatment options, but my response was ‘take ‘em,’” Welch chuckled, remembering her decision to have a double mastectomy.
Welch was determined to be the first in several generations of her family to beat breast cancer. And, it was no surprise for anyone who knows her, cancer was yet another challenge that Welch conquered. However, Welch was quick to note that she didn’t beat cancer alone.
“If it wasn’t for my teammates, my positivity going through my recovery wouldn’t have been what it was,” Welch acknowledged. “Our local office mailed me a card every day that I was recovering with a one dollar bill inside. They did that so that at the end of my treatment, I’d be able to go out for a nice dinner to celebrate.”
This gesture is as much a testimony of the fantastic team at UHC of South Carolina as it is of Welch. Many people know the expression, “You get what you give.” Welch gives back to her teammates as much as she receives.
“Deborah lifts people up,” raved Ray Moore, the local company’s marketing company president. “She coaches and encourages her teammates. All my managers have such a close bond. And, they all get out and help each other. She’s definitely a team player.”
Part of the Family
Not only does Welch treat her teammates like members of her family, she extends the same level of care and compassion to her customers.
“I try to make the whole process as fluid as possible for customers,” Welch explained. “It’s important to be as understanding as possible because every situation is different, so I listen and respond accordingly. They deserve the best product and service that we can offer.”
It’s clear to anyone who works with Welch, she takes the Company’s Primary Service Objective (PSO) very seriously.
“The more we know about our products and services, the better we can make the moving experience for the customer,” Welch declared. “Customers might think they know what they need, but it’s important to show them the options that will help them save money, time and effort.”
Giving Her All
Welch is not one to stand still. She participates in many races, obstacle course events and walks. In fact, several months after her heroic efforts to help local flood victims, Welch bumped into the sister of one of the customers she had helped during a 5K breast cancer walk.
The woman remembered how Welch had come in during her recovery and asked if they could walk together. Of course, Welch happily agreed and helped the lady push her companion in a wheelchair throughout the course.
“She’s a people person, and never meets a stranger,” Moore attested. “Last year, she gave her Thanksgiving turkey to a customer who didn’t have much. That customer was so inspired by Deborah that they passed on that kindness and shared their meal with another family in need.”
This care and compassion extends to everyone in Welch’s community. At the hospital where Welch receives her care, she’s been appointed a liaison for other breast cancer patients who need to talk to someone.
Sharing her know-how
At U-Haul, Welch is an asset to her team. Moore encourages his team to take at least one new U-Haul University (UHU) course a month, and he noted that she’s always the first to start the conversation about what she’s learned at the team’s monthly meetings.
“A more informed team member makes a better team member,” Welch advised. “Learn what you can and then put your own unique spin on it. Then, after every new thing you learn, make it your mission to teach someone else.”
“You can tell she loves her job by the way her location looks,” Moore observed. “And, you can tell her team loves her because of the smiles on their faces. She’s outspoken. She’s a cheerleader for her team. She praises her team.”
“There isn’t a day that I’m not excited to come to work,” Welch proclaimed. “Sure, there are parts of the day that aren’t ideal. But, on the whole, I really enjoy my job. I feel valued at U-Haul. And, I believe that is what makes U-Haul a great company to work for.”
Want to share some words of encouragement with Deborah? She’d love to read it! Leave some love in the comments below.