In the late 1960s, Donald Wigton arrived at U-Haul headquarters in Phoenix as a new Team Member in the maintenance department.
“My cousin worked for U-Haul at the time,” he said. “He told me that it was a good place that paid decent wages and took care of people. Even though I hadn’t worked in maintenance before, I looked forward to giving it a try.”
Donald is the proud patriarch of four generations of U-Haul Team Members. He was followed by son Don, grandson Duane and great-grandson Duane Jr.
Up for a Challenge
Donald left the Company in the early 1970s for other opportunities, but his relatively brief time with U-Haul laid a strong foundation for Donald, Duane and Duane Jr.’s future success.
“My dad has always liked to work … whether to earn a paycheck, learn a new skill or help someone,” Don said. “He’s always up for a challenge and enjoys making friends with everyone he meets. Without a doubt, he’s shaped and guided me into becoming who I am today.”
Donald appreciated the growth and adventure he experienced at U-Haul.
“After working in maintenance, I eventually made my way over to the U-Haul Technical Center,” Donald said. “As part of my job duties there, I had the opportunity to fly to California every so often to pick up U-Haul trucks and drive them back to Phoenix. That was always so exciting to me.
“Another thing I enjoyed about U-Haul was how close everyone was. We were really like a family, from the CEO on down. People knew people from across departments, and we all helped each other however we could.”
From a very young age, Don loved discovering how things work.
“When I was nine years old, my family and I lived on a farm in Pennsylvania,” Don detailed. “One winter day, my dad told me that he was headed into town and asked me to remove the gas tank from our tractor while he was gone. However, he took so long to get back that I eventually decided to take the whole tractor apart.
“When he returned from town, he saw the tractor pieces everywhere and yelled, ‘It’ll never run again!’ But, I promised him that I would put it all back together and make it work again, and I did. From that day on, I knew that I wanted to be a mechanic.”
When Don joined U-Haul in 1982 as a repairman at AMFORM in Glendale, Ariz., he instantly fell in love with his mechanically minded role.
Throughout his 40-plus years of U-Haul service, Don has been the lead mechanic and senior repairer at AMFORM, and mobile repair specialist and shop lead person at Tempe Repair, among other roles. When he retired from U-Haul a few months ago, he was a trailer/SRI repair specialist at Phoenix Repair.
Don has since come out of retirement to teach the shop portion of the 1-2-3 Punch Program on Day 3.
“As I look back on my U-Haul career, I feel like I’ve accomplished something extremely worthwhile,” Don said. “I would definitely do it all over again.”
“My dad has so much U-Haul information that he’s gained over the years, and he loves to share it,” Duane Sr. added. “In addition, family plays a central role in his life. He prioritizes getting together with family members for fun events and special moments. It’s been a real privilege to call him my dad.”
Learning and Growing
Inspired by his dad and grandpa, Duane Sr. joined U-Haul in 2000 as a parts specialist. He has served for 22 years in a variety of roles, including repair dispatch manager, parts foreman and mechanical express specialist.
“Every day at work, I have the privilege of meeting and learning from people from all walks of life,” Duane Sr. said. “Every Team Member I’ve worked with has taught me something new. The lessons that I’ve learned from them have helped me to improve in all aspects of my role. My motto is: Each day is a new day, and each day has something new to teach me. I hope to continue learning and growing.”
“My dad is the type of person who selflessly goes out of his way to help others,” Duane Jr. said. “At the same time, he doesn’t let any of his own responsibilities slip, and always stays on top of what he needs to do. He’s a really great dad.”
Legacy Alive and Well
At an age when many of his peers are more interested in having fun than working, high-schooler Duane Jr. is building the foundation for a long-term U-Haul career. He is a part-time customer service representative at U-Haul Moving & Storage at Estrella Mountain in Goodyear.
Like all Wigtons, Duane Jr. is eager to turn his current job into a promising career.
“I’m currently taking as many U-Haul University courses as I can about shop-related skills,” Duane Jr. said. “After I graduate high school this spring, my goal is to transfer to Shop 478 and work alongside my dad and grandpa. Ultimately, I want to become a U-Haul Trained Master Technician.
“U-Haul feels like another family to me. I really like coming to work. I feel like I’m always welcome here.”