U-Haul's First Employee, Hap Carty, Dies at 95

Hap Carty's tenure at U-Haul started with wooden trailers and led to his working with GM, Dana and Navistar.

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U-Haul has been helping American drivers on their big moves for over 75 years.
U-Haul has been helping American drivers on their big moves for over 75 years.
Photo: U-Haul

The first employee of U-Haul, William E. “Hap” Carty, died on Friday, June 24. Carty was 95 years old. While Hap Carty was not one of the founders of the company, he helped co-founders Leonard “Sam” Shoen and Anna Mary Carty turn U-Haul from a plucky upstart working out of a milk house to a household name in the moving industry — and among drivers on American roadways.

Hap Carty first helped the Shoens — Anna was his sister, and Sam his brother-in-law — with their nascent enterprise in 1945 while on leave from the U.S. Army. Carty then began working for the newly founded U-Haul in 1946 after being discharged from the Army at the end of WWII. And for the next 43 years, Carty stayed at U-Haul, building wooden trailers early on and, later, serving as president.

Photo: U-Haul
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Afterwards, he would go on to be Chairman of the board of directors at Amerco, parent company of U-Haul. Carty was behind the 1970 opening of the U-Haul Technical Center in Tempe, Arizona, where the company conducted research and development. There was even a test track onsite! Carty ran that facility, and according to the company, he also worked with auto industry giants like GM, Navistar and Dana to develop the medium-duty trucks that the moving industry would come to rely on.

I like to think the U-Haul Technical Center is where the first trailer load tests took place, which would maybe be the basis of the beloved wobble video:

Safe Trailering Demonstration | U-Haul | How To Properly Load A Trailer

As U-Haul’s first employee, Carty was there through it all, it seems. U-Haul would later become nearly synonymous with moving trailers. Kind of like how Google became synonymous with using search engines on the internet. We’ll say, “just Google it,” when telling a friend to search for something on the World Wide Web, much like some might say, “just get a U-Haul,” when telling a friend to rent a trailer or truck when moving across the country. For that matter, not just cross-country, but across cities and town, as well.

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Photo: U-Haul

The company calls Carty a pioneer, which is not just a term honoring its late director, but is a reference to the direct line it draws between early U.S. settlers pulling wagons westward and U-Haul’s own orange trailers. Indeed, Carty, appears to have been a pioneer, and if not a founder, at least, a foundational worker behind the orange and white trailers with the dinosaur graphics.

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Image for article titled U-Haul's First Employee, Hap Carty, Dies at 95
Photo: U-Haul
Image for article titled U-Haul's First Employee, Hap Carty, Dies at 95
Photo: U-Haul
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Image for article titled U-Haul's First Employee, Hap Carty, Dies at 95
Photo: U-Haul
Image for article titled U-Haul's First Employee, Hap Carty, Dies at 95
Photo: U-Haul