Hap Carty, industry pioneer and first employee of U-Haul, dies at 95

William E. “Hap” Carty, the first full-time U-Haul employee who helped build the first 10 U-Haul-manufactured trailers in 1945 and later became the company’s president, died June 24 at the age of 95.

Carty grew up on the family ranch in Ridgefield. He was the third of six children and brother to U-Haul co-founder Anna Mary Carty Shoen.

Carty not only worked the ranch, but he worked in shipyards and lumber mills during his high school years. He attended Ridgefield High School, graduating in 1945. Carty joined the Army immediately after high school. He went through 17 weeks of infantry training at Camp Roberts, Calif. He then put in for an overseas tour, but was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s transportation unit at Fort Riley, Kan. Though he did not face the perils of combat since the war was coming to an end, Carty remained willing and ready to serve his country. He was honorably discharged as a private first class (PFC) in 1946.

Carty came home on furlough at one point in 1945 and found himself in the business of building trailers. His brother-in-law, L.S. “Sam” Shoen, had converted an old milk house on the Carty ranch into a welding and carpentry shop, and was in the process of building the first fleet of U-Haul trailers. Carty helped build the first 10 U-Haul-manufactured trailers. After his discharge in 1946, Carty joined the upstart business to become the first full-time U-Haul employee.

Over the next 42 years, he would help guide U-Haul to incredible heights and cement its place as the industry leader in do-it-yourself moving.

The definition of a veteran entrepreneur, Carty opened manufacturing plants in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, and eventually held the titles of U-Haul rental company president; product director; director of transportation; district vice president; U-Haul International (UHI) president; Kar-Go International president; AMERCO (parent company of U-Haul) vice president; and UHI chairman of the board.

Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.