It’s no secret that members of Team U-Haul have staying power. Company anniversary lists feature Team Members with 30, 40 and even 60 years of service. While many Team Members have moved from various roles and locations, some find their niche at one location and grow roots. Myuhaulstory.com is highlighting these exceptional Team Members like Bob Crahan.
OKLAHOMA CITY — With a career spanning five decades, Bob Crahan has grown up with U-Haul. He’s seen countless changes over the years and hasn’t missed a beat. After mastering various positions in the company, Crahan settled into the role of general manager (GM), and has been leading the team at U-Haul Moving and Storage at Southside for the past 16 years.
Crahan and U-Haul
MUS: Your record shows that you started in 1969. What brought you to U-Haul?
Bob Crahan: Actually my career with U-Haul began in 1964. I was 16 years old and started mowing the grass for my father Pat Crahan, who was at that time the marketing company president (MCP) of U-Haul Company of Oklahoma and Arkansas. My father started working for U-Haul in 1963, hence my beginning in 1964. My mom, Velva, started with U-Haul shortly thereafter.
MUS: Your first role at U-Haul was an area field manager (AFM). What was it like back then?
Crahan: Physical! Very challenging physically and mentally. I did all kinds of repairs on dealers’ lots and on the side of the road doing 24/7 Hotline duty. In addition to that, I managed my dealers’ businesses while they were on vacation.
Ted Fore, MCP of UHC of Kansas and Missouri, hired me in June 1969. While in training, I stayed with Ted and his wife, Tillie, in their home. I was 20 years old. From there, I went to Great Bend, Kansas, to train to be AFM Ed Woods’ replacement.
I was AFM for one year before my first real promotion to a city route in Wichita, Kansas. In Wichita, I trained to be Bill Lafferty’s replacement. Bill eventually became MCP and ADVP before he retired. As an AFM in Wichita, I was instrumental in purchasing two properties and developing them into U-Haul Stores.
MUS: What other roles have you held at U-Haul?
Crahan: I was the GM at one of the first corporate-owned stores, Town East in Wichita, Kansas. It was one of the stores that I showed L.S. “Sam” Shoen, and then, after he purchased it, he told me to turn it into a U-Haul Store.
In 1975, I was promoted to assistant to MCP Jack Fore, Ted’s brother, and set up an AMERCO field office, now called a marketing company office (MCO), as well as the Traffic Department and supply distribution for three AFM routes in Wichita. A couple of years later the MCO was relocated back to Kansas City. I moved back to Oklahoma City, and, consequently, have managed four stores here in UHC of Oklahoma City in the past 36 years. The last 16 years have been at the Southside store.
Longevity and advice
MUS: Over the years, you’ve seen a lot of changes. What are some changes that you feel really changed the game for U-Haul?
Crahan: Buying and owning corporate stores, computers, storage and our rotation fleet really advanced the Company. Another change came when Joe Shoen became our CEO and initiated the Back-to-Basics Plan.
MUS: There are many types of leaders in Team U-Haul. How would you describe your relationship with your team?
Crahan: I like to treat my crew like family. I lead by example and enjoy seeing them grow, not only as team members, but as people. A kind word and a gentle touch go a long way as a leader.
MUS: What advice would you give to other managers, or people in general, who want to have a successful career?
Crahan: Work hard, work long, but most of all, have fun. A good day at work is like a good day at play. This job has been my hobby and my passion.
MUS: When you started with U-Haul, did you think you’d be with the Company this long?
Crahan: Absolutely! From Day One I knew U-Haul was my family for life. And, I was right. Furthermore, my father and mother just recently retired from U-Haul after a life of service to the Company.
MUS: Outside of your parents, do you have any other family members who work for U-Haul?
Crahan: Three of my four children have worked for U-Haul at one time or another. As a result, my youngest daughter, Stephanie Alim, works for the Company as a facility housekeeper. My oldest grandson has worked for the Company. And, my wife, Von Crahan, is celebrating her 25th year with U-Haul. She’s the field relief manager (FRM) for U-Haul Company of Oklahoma City. We are a U-Haul family.
Thank you, Bob, for your hard work and contributions to Team U-Haul over the years! Got a message for Bob? Leave it in the comments below!