In 1945, U-Haul co-founders L.S. “Sam” Shoen and his wife, Anna Mary Carty Shoen, found themselves moving from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. The problem, however, was they could not find a rental trailer available for a one-way move. Instead, the couple was forced to buy a trailer. It was from this experience that the concept for U-Haul was first born.
In the early years of the company’s history, U-Haul headquarters were located in Portland. However, in 1966 L.S. “Sam” Shoen decided that the company needed to move out of Portland. While the exact reasons for this decision are unknown – some have said Shoen was unhappy with the lack of parking the city offered to his growing number of employees – he eventually settled on moving the company to Phoenix.
Ralph Shiver, President of U-Haul Company in the 1970’s, summed up his employees’ reaction to the move.
“About half of them thought they had died and gone to heaven, while the other half thought they had died and gone to hell, and I was in the latter half.”
Over a year after deciding to move the company headquarters, they purchased a building in Downtown Phoenix, the Central Towers. On July 4, 1967 the first U-Haul employee moved into the building. It was in this building that U-Haul continued to grow to the company it is today.
Current CEO, Joe Shoen, held his first U-Haul job in the Phoenix headquarters. He was tasked to help with the renovations the building was undergoing.
“I can remember looking at this building when it was for sale. And one of my very first jobs that I got ‘pseudo’ paid for was working in this building as it went about renovations to make it so we could move in. So I was on the, you know, I don’t know what to call it, clean-up crew or the building crew that first summer, so I have a lot of memories of that.”
Do you have any memories of working or being at the towers? Share with us in the comments below.