ARA Names Five for Rental Hall of Fame

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The American Rental Association (ARA) has named this year’s inductees for the Rental Hall of Fame.

They will be recognized at The ARA Show 2021 in Las Vegas.

ARA created the Rental Hall of Fame in 2000 to foster an appreciation of the historical development of the equipment and event rental industry and the leaders who helped the industry grow and expand. Each year, nominations are accepted to recognize individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the industry.

The five inductees this year are Donald Ahern, Michael Kneeland, Edward Latek, Timothy Maloney Sr., CERP, and John ‘Jack’ Shea.

Don Ahern, Ahern Rentals, Las Vegas, Nevada

Ahern Rentals was founded in 1953 by Don’s father and was originally located where the STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod (formerly the Stratosphere) now stands on the Las Vegas Strip. Don began working for his father at Ahern Renter’s Center in the 1970s.

Venturing out on his own in 1978 with a fleet of three scissor lifts, Don relocated and founded Los Arcos Equipment which expanded across Southern Nevada and Southern California by 1983. In 1990, Don purchased the business from his father and combined both businesses into one–Ahern Rentals–in 1997. The rental business joined ARA in 1978 and has retained membership ever since.

Don also applied his rental business knowledge into manufacturing. Inspired to produce his own telehandler, he purchased Western Attachment Co. in 1999, specializing in rough-terrain vertical mast forklifts. To design all-new telehandlers to his specifications, Don founded Fresno Engineering Group in 2001. Less than two years later, the company would be renamed to Xtreme Manufacturing. Today, as the owner of Xtreme Manufacturing, Don also holds a majority stake in Snorkel.

Michael Kneeland, United Rentals, Stamford, Connecticut

Michael became CEO of United Rentals in 2008, but his career in rental started long before. His first experience in the industry was in sales for Free State Industries, an aerial equipment company–before this piece of equipment was popular and scaffolding prevailed in the construction world.

Michael’s perseverance led him to become the president of Free State, eventually negotiating its sale to Equipment Supply Company in 1996. In 1998, United Rentals acquired Equipment Supply Company and Michael assumed a senior management role, and later became the third CEO in the history of United Rentals.

One of Michael’s persistent messages as a rental executive was “being the biggest doesn’t matter unless you’re also the best” reflecting his take on customer service, ingenuity, creativity, and imagination. Early on, he authorized the creation of an Advanced Solutions group that worked with construction and industrial managers in the early-adoption phase, performing drone inspections in elevator shafts and other hard-to-reach places.

This helped lay the foundation for the upsurge in interest that followed. In 2011, Michael was part of establishing ARA Rental Market Metrics, which gave rental companies a consistent way to calculate performance for the first time.

Michael retired from his role as CEO in 2019, but his passion for the industry remains strong. He continues to serve as chair of the Board of United Rentals, chair of Maxim Crane, and serves on other company boards.

Edward Latek, Latek Capital, Lake Forest, Illinois

Upon graduating from college in 1963, Ed joined his family's tool rental business in the south suburbs of Chicago, using it as a base from which he built Latek Rental into a major multilocation construction equipment rental business. He took his knowledge and experience in rental to begin the development of Reli Financial, a rental-specific commercial finance company in the early 1970s. After experiencing accelerated growth, Reli underwent consolidation during the mid-1980s and Ed sold the company to a life insurance company in 1986.

Ed continued to realize the need for financial services in the industry and following his retirement from Reli, he embarked on another mission in the early 1990s and founded Latek Capital Corporation. The company’s goal was to provide professional mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, advisory, and valuation services to small and mid-size equipment rental and rental-related firms.

Timothy Maloney Sr., CERP, Canton Chair Rental, Canton, Ohio

Tim’s career in rental began in 1977 when he joined his father who had owned a Taylor Rental franchise since 1972. In 1979, the business was one of the first to computerize their operations when they purchased a system from a company that is now known as Alert Management Systems, formerly IMS. The same year, the company became an ARA member. In 1985, Tim and his father purchased the rental inventory of Canton Chair & Table Co. and started a separate party rental store called Canton Chair Rental which Tim managed.

Since joining ARA, Tim has been an active volunteer member having served at the local, state, and national level. His service started on the Northeast Ohio Rental Association board to help rental operators across the state of Ohio. He then went on and played a critical role in founding ARA of Ohio, and in 1993, Tim began to serve ARA at the national level.

John ‘Jack’ Shea Jr., InTempo Software, Springfield, Massachusetts

With a career in the rental industry spanning nearly 45 years, Jack helped transform the industry through computerization. Prior to founding Solutions by Computer (SBC) in 1982, Jack was responsible for the operations of the company-owned stores of Taylor Rental. In this role, he pioneered the use of computerization in managing a rental store and its assets, bringing technology to these stores as well as 625 franchised Taylor Rental Centers. This work served as the first step in the evolution of SBC.

Early on, Jack was met with skepticism and resistance from rental operators, but he did not let that deter his vision of bringing affordable technology to rental businesses of all sizes. He fostered early adopters of his systems and then engaged them to help steer future software development efforts.

Jack was one of the first people in the rental industry to talk about the importance of realizing returns above the cost of capital and documenting the financial performance of rental assets.

As an executive at Taylor Rental, Jack developed software for franchisees called Taylor Owners Program of Information and Control (TOPIC) which provided analytics to improve decision making in their businesses. His next development was SBC’s Counter Pro software which could be used to write and process transactions, and it also used information to proactively prevent problems from occurring.

Source: ARA