Monday, November 5, 2018

Leonard Shoen: Founder of U-Haul

Discharged from the Navy in the summer of 1945, 29-year-old Leonard Samuel "Sam" Shoen and his wife Anna Mary tried to rent a utility trailer to move their possessions from Los Angeles to Portland and found they couldn’t move more than what could fit in their own car.

The Shoens saw a need to enable families in a post-World War II economy to relocate on their own. He launched U-Haul in the summer of 1945 with an investment of $5,000.The first trailers were bought from welding shops or second hand from private owners.

Starting in 1945 with the first U-Haul trailers painted in the now ubiquitous orange color, Shoen spent the next two decades traveling tirelessly across the United States to create the U-Haul network.

Shoen signed up thousands of franchisees, often service stations that had excess parking, to join U-Haul’s network in exchange for collecting a fee for processing rentals and accepting dropped-off equipment. He developed one-way rentals and enlisted investors as partners in each trailer as methods of growth.

What makes a U-Haul franchise attractive is that franchisees can simply utilize unused land to earn additional income while U-Haul puts up the necessary capital, equipment and rental systems. Within two decades, Shoen had signed up thousands of franchisees and created a national one-way moving network with over 40,000 trailers in service.

His sons wrested control of the company from Shoen in 1986. Leonard Shoen had, out of sense of familial duty, imprudently given them majority ownership in the form of voting shares. After a 1988 attempt to regain control, a lawsuit is filed against his sons, ending with a 1994 verdict of $1.47B in Leonard's favor.

Leonard S. Shoen died on Monday morning after he drove his car into a utility pole near Las Vegas, Nev., his hometown for the last 20 years. Fatal automobile accident when his car struck a telephone pole on Stephanie Street, near Jimmy Durante Boulevard, in Las Vegas. The coroner ruled the death a suicide. He was 83. Leonard Shoen:
Founder of U-Haul
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