The history of Star Trucks Rentals, Inc. is a long and interesting story of a company that has been involved in many and various segments of the transportation industry. It appears that the company was originally organized as Star Baggage Company and that there really was a Mr. Star after whom the company was named. The company’s history dates back to the 1860’s.
It was not until 1916 that the antecedents of the current owners became involved in the company. Harry, Peter and Andy Bylenga, then employed by Railway Express Company, purchased Star with money loaned to them by their mother. Their brothers, Ed and Connie, later became involved as well.
Star was then comprised of several horses and wagons engaged in the hauling of baggage to and from the train depot. The name was changed to Star Transfer Line and their father, Cornelius Sr., was made Honorary President. With the advent of the motorcar and truck, the company began to use more trucks in their operation and soon grew to be a respectable local cartage, warehousing and contract carriage company in and around Grand Rapids.
In about 1933, the Bylenga’s purchased Interstate Motor Freight System, which was then in bankruptcy. Over the ensuing years, Interstate became a carrier of national dimensions. In fact, during the Second World War, it was the largest common carrier in the country. One of Interstate’s accomplishments was to be chosen as the civilian carrier who supplied the non-military needs such as food, etc… to the army when it went on maneuvers as part of the hurried mobilization that took place just before the war.
During these same years, they began investing in Associated Truck Lines, also struggling to stay solvent, and became the major force behind that company as well as saw it become the largest intrastate carrier in Michigan, and later become a large regional carrier. Unfortunately, as a result of these heavy concentrations of trucking power in the hand of one family, the Federal Trade Commission, in the mid-1940’s ordered them to reduce their control over these companies. The decision was made to sell Interstate Systems, then at the peak of its success, and to concentrate their efforts on the challenge that confronted them at Associated.
Meanwhile, Star continued its growth as a contract carriage company. During these years, Star was under contract with Kroger. For eight years, the company held the State Liquor Distribution contract.
A major source of revenue for Star resulted from its connections with Interstate and Associated, as a supplier of equipment. Under contract with Associated and pursuant to their operating authority, Star operated Associated’s steel hauling division for about 15 years. At one time, the company ran as many as 30 double-bottom flatbeds (tractor-trailer-pup) on a 24-hour-a-day non-stop basis between Muskegon, Detroit, and Grand Rapids. Another major source of revenue through the years was Spartan Food Stores. Star acted for about 30 years as the only contract carrier and lessor for Spartan with more than 200 units dedicated to their service.
Today, Star is principally engaged in the long-term lease and short-term rental of light and heavy-duty over –the-road trucks. In this connection, Star has been affiliated with the National Truck Leasing System for 55 years, and is the oldest Michigan member. Star has been honored with the trust and confidence of over 1000 commercial accounts, among which are several Fortune 500 corporations.
Over the past several years, Star has expanded its market area by opening branch facilities throughout Michigan and northern Indiana. The company currently boasts seventeen branch locations–Kentwood, Comstock Park, Kalamazoo, Muskegon, Traverse City, Gaylord, Flint, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Cadillac, Lansing, Jackson, Livonia, Holland and Warren, Michigan. Also, there is one location in Goshen, Indiana. The Corporate Office is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.