The fourth richest man in Arizona led a coup against his father

Luay Rahil
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For the last 75 years, U-Haul has dominated the do-it-yourself moving business. Currently, U-Haul owns more than 186,000 trucks, 46,000 towing devices, and 128,000 trailers, besides owning 876,000 rentable storage units and more than 70.5 million square feet of storage space.

The founder, Leonard Samuel Shoen of U-Haul, had 13 children, most of whom became very rich. Edward Joe Shoen is one of his eldest children and one of the wealthiest. His net worth exceeds $4.0 billion, making him the fourth richest person in Arizona.

Who is Edward Joe Shoen?

Edward Joe Shoen is an American billionaire entrepreneur and president and chairman of Amerco. Amerco is the parent company of U-Haul, RepWest Insurance Company, Amerco Real Estate Company, and Oxford Life Insurance Company.

Before Joe was born, his father, Leonard Shoen, and his mother, Anna Mary, founded U-Haul in 1945. The couple recognized people needed one-way trailers and truck rentals, so they created a U-Haul. Joe was born on October 28, 1949, and he lost his mother in 1957. She was 34 and had six children; each child inherited a piece of her 50% stake in the company. His father, Leonard Shoen, remarried many times and had seven more children.

Joe Shoen graduated from Harvard Business School in 1973 with a Master's in Business Administration. At Harvard, he wrote a paper detailing the self-storage business's economics. After that, he joined U-Haul with many of his brothers.

However, the brothers rarely agreed on the best direction for the business, so tensions mounted in the company. Finally, tired of arguing, Joe quit in 1978, went to law school at Arizona State, and opened Space Age Auto Paint, selling paint for cars, boats, and airplanes. He still owns the business today, and U-Haul is its largest customer.

Sam Shoen was considered their father's boy.

To stay relevant in a competitive market, Leonard Shoen and his oldest son, Sam, wanted to become a one-stop shop for all things rental, Jet Skis, party supplies, awnings, motor homes, and more. Unfortunately, this lack of focus impacted its revenue negatively, and thousands of employees lost their jobs.

Joe led a business coup.

Joe wasn't happy about the company's direction, so he led a business coup in 1986, forced his father into retirement, and alienated most of his 12 siblings. Joe became the chairman, and his oldest brother, Sam, stayed as the CEO. Unfortunately, Joe made a lot of questionable business moves to push his brother Sam out of the company, so in 1988, Sam and his father sued Joe, and Joe responded by canceling his father's lifetime employment agreement.

Sam's wife was shot and killed.

During this legal fight, Eva Berg Shoen, Sam's wife, was murdered at her home in the Ski Ranches in August 1990. Leonard Shoen was convinced of his son's involvement, so he wanted the police to investigate her murder as an assassination. However, a serial-rapist ex-con named Frank Marquis was convicted of her murder, and no connection to any of Leonard Shoen's sons was discovered.

The court ordered Joe to pay his dad $1.48 billion.

Despite all this turmoil and legal troubles, Joe Shoen maintained his focus, and the company went public in 1994, selling shares at $15.83. He maneuvered the company through bankruptcy in 2004, and the judge ordered Joe to pay a $1.48 billion settlement to the company founder, Leonard Shoen.

His father lived alone in Las Vegas for the last 20 years and died of suicide in 1999.

Joe expanded his dominance by buying Collegeboxes.

To stay competitive and expand its customer base, U-Haul bought Collegeboxes. A company started in 1997 by Paychex founder Jim Wayman. This move helped the company gain 15,000 customers quickly.

Shoen is known for his thriftiness, demanding employees stay in cheap motels, two to a room. In 2018, Fox News reported that Joe Shoen's wife allegedly abandoned several sick Rottweilers at a pet-adoption charity so she doesn't have to pay for their treatment.

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