Fistfight Mars U-Haul Stockholders’ Meeting in Nevada
RENO, Nev. (AP) _ Four sons of U-Haul’s 73-year-old founder scuffled after a stockholders’ meeting in the latest episode in a bitter family struggle over control of the truck rental empire.
″I created a monster,″ a visibly shaken Leonard Shoen said after the brawl by his sons Saturday at the Sands Regent Hotel-Casino.
Hotel guards quickly broke up the fight, witnesses said.
Shoen has sought to regain control of U-Haul since being forced into retirement in 1986.
Two of the sons involved in the fight, Mike and Sam Shoen, support their father. The other two, board Chairman Joe Shoen and Mark Shoen, oppose him.
Paul and James Shoen, who support their brother, Joe, and also sit on U- Haul’s board, were not involved in the fight.
Sam Shoen, holding an ice pack to his cheek, said the fight occurred after the stockholders’ meeting adjourned.
″They ran it in the most high-handed possible fashion even though they knew they had the votes they needed to win,″ he said. ″They were not willing to allow discussion on anything.″
During the meeting, Joe, Paul and James Shoen and three non-family members were re-elected to the six-member board.
The board chairman and his supporters refused to comment on the fight, but issued a news release pledging a back-to-basics approach in U-Haul’s five-year management plan.
The plan calls for an all-new truck fleet, discontinuing unprofitable operations, liquidating unused assets and an employee profit-sharing plan.
Leonard Shoen contends the company has been devalued under Joe Shoen’s leadership and no longer adheres to its founding principle of customer satisfaction.
He also accused his son of lending money from a trust fund to several U- Haul employees to purchase stock in an effort to retain control of the company.
The elder Shoen set the stage for the struggle years ago when he divided 95 percent of the company’s stock among 12 children from three marriages.
U-Haul is now part of Amerco, whose headquarters is in Phoenix.
After Saturday’s meeting, Leonard Shoen said the only way to defuse the situation is to sell the company.
″This will have to be solved and that’s the only way to solve it,″ he said.