Honoree Headshot

Sebastien D. Reyes

Vice President
U-Haul International

Location: Phoenix, AZ
Founded: 1945
Industry: Moving and Self-Storage

When COVID-19 hit and colleges across the country closed, Sebastien D. Reyes responded in a matter of hours to help those displaced students. The vice president of communications for U-Haul International led a targeted digital marketing and social media strategy, offering 30 days of free self-storage for college students.

The messaging went viral overnight and prompted dozens of national TV spots. In the days following the campaign, Fox Business reported that “U-Haul’s coronavirus response drives stock 15% after company offers college students free storage.”

U-Haul was heralded as a brand that got its response to the pandemic right and was later awarded both the Community Relations Campaign of the Year and the PR Campaign of the Year by PR Daily Awards.

That’s just one example of how Reyes puts in the work to drive results.

“Leaning fully into an idea, a team or a friendship is the most certain way to create longevity,” he said. “This, of course, is hard work. Fortunately, this lesson has really worked to my benefit because I’ve never been the smartest in the room or the fastest on the field, but I’ve always been willing to work.”

Reyes was elevated to U-Haul’s first Vice President of communications in the company’s 77-year history to unify the brand’s messages across platforms. The company does not have a traditional marketing department, chief marketing officer, or marketing executive equivalent, and it does not use agencies or consultants. The company’s marketing and communications outcomes are a direct result of Reyes’ leadership and the work of his in-house team.

A number of campaigns have gone viral during Reyes’ tenure. Those include offers of free selfstorage to communities ravaged by natural disasters, and the #UHaulFamous campaign, which encouraged customers to submit photos of their move and be featured on the side of U-Haul trucks.

At the age of 27, Reyes joined AMERCO, parent of U-Haul International- as the head of investor relations, working as the primary liaison and communicator to shareholders, analysts and financial media. Over the past nine years, he has served in ascending management positions. In his current role, Reyes is head of global corporate communications, sustainability, community relations and philanthropy, digital media and U-Haul University.

Reyes serves on the board of directors for Humble Design (Detroit), the Loyola Marymount University Alumni Association (Los Angeles), Phoenix Suns Charities 88 and the Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Advisory Council.

Reyes credits his parents with modeling good leadership for him growing up.

“I was fortunate to observe servant leadership growing up in my parents’ household,” he said. “They taught me many of the key ingredients of leadership, including integrity, resilience, gratitude, kindness and a deep consciousness of the needs of people around you.”

Presented by:

Class VI Partners logo
Wipfli_Logo_Reverse_transparent text_lg.
BizSmart logo
Sherman and Howard logo
Comerica Bank logo
Cresa logo
Vensure HR Logo
Honoree Fun fact

Sebastien had a very, very short stint as a child model!

Did you know?