Today we celebrate Sam and Anna Shoen for their brilliant idea and contribution to the wealth of society - the U-Haul Co. Sam and Anna's company began with the purchase of a combination of small trailers either pre-owned or manufactured from local welders. Their scheme: rent the trailers to movers. When the movers were done with them they would simply park the trailers on the lot of a service station in their new hometown with a "for rent" sign attached. And the rest is history. The company website explains the motivation behind U-haul:
Since 1945, U-Haul has been serving do-it-yourself movers households. Like many other successful ventures, the concept for U-Haul was generated out of need. After World War II, there existed the widespread need for do-it-yourself moving equipment that would be available on a one-way, nationwide basis. U-Haul co-founders L.S. “Sam“ Shoen and his wife, Anna Mary Carty Shoen, recognized that need and acted upon it. Their visionary approach spread the cost of ownership among many users, facilitating the mobility of the populations of the U.S. and Canada. The covered wagon of the pioneers morphed into orange U-Haul trailers. In the process, an industry was born.
Discharged from the Navy in the summer of 1945, 29-year-old Sam and Anna Mary tried to rent a utility trailer to move their possessions from Los Angeles to Portland, Ore. It couldn't be done. They had to take only what they could fit in the car
“Small luggage-type passenger automobile trailers were being rented from 'rental lots' in Los Angeles. Each lot had from 20 to 40 trailers which were rented locally for approximately $2 per day,” recalled Shoen in his book “You and Me.” “I recognized that here was an item with considerable utility value which had not been exploited at all in the Northwest or in the San Francisco-Oakland area. I was intrigued with the business potential of this idea, especially from the standpoint of one-way rentals.”
The Shoens reasoned that many other families had a need similar to theirs: the short-term availability of a trailer that could be rented “here” and left “there.” No one, at that time, seemed ready or willing to serve that need.
The company's philosophy leaves little doubt that the founders of U-Haul are true Heroes of Capitalism:
"The division of use and specialization of ownership are good for both our customers and the environment."