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Frankly Speaking

Frankly Speaking

I remember the very first American Rental Association trade show I attended back in 1990. I don't recall specifically what city it was in or what the attendance was like but it seemed to be a bit below the expectations of some of the manufacturers. One of my assignments was to go around and ask vendors how the show was, and after about a half dozen responses that the attendance was less than hoped for but the quality of interest was good, recited in kind of a politically correct smiling tone, I was getting bored until I came to an aerial booth and was introduced to a dark-haired man who shook my hand with a bored smirk and told me the show was, well, it was a four-letter word our editorial policy prevents me from printing. He went on to add that the show organizers at that time had their collective heads in a place I can't mention.

After a couple of minutes of this, Frank Scarborough then asked me how I was, invited me to sit down and for the next 15 or 20 minutes taught me a lot about the aerial rental industry that I would come to find fascinating over the years. I soon learned that Frank was far from the dour, negative person he seemed at the beginning of that conversation, but was a warm, gracious and hospitable individual who generally lived up to his first name, never being afraid to tell it like he felt it. His first name described his nature well — he was frank, candid and not afraid to be critical of things he felt were wrong. He wrote a number of guest columns for RER over the years — some under the moniker of “Frankly Speaking” — and he wasn't afraid to be critical of people and companies and trends in the industry he didn't agree with. One of the things I learned about Frank was that he was just as likely to turn the criticism on himself.

When I learned, much to my surprise, that Frank died last week of a massive stroke at the too-young age of 62 -- please see our obit at http://rermag.com/trends_analysis/headlinenews/aerial-executive-frank-scarborough-dies-070910/-- a lot of memories came back. Sitting and drinking a beer with him after touring UpRight's Selma, Calif., factory in 100-degree heat. Later touring Snorkel's plant in Elwood, Kan., after he almost single-handedly resurrected that company when it had been left on the scrap heap, I remember how proud he was of its resumed growth. Gaining the backing of local businessman Al Havlin and bringing back Snorkel stalwarts Bob Buehler and others, Scarborough was proud of the fact that they were supporting the long-running Snorkel brand and bringing back a lot of people to work in a small community that didn't have a lot of other employment options.

My bet is that if Frank read this he would tell me I'm giving him way too much credit and that he was just in it because he had to do something for a living, right? Say whatever you want, Frank. A lot of people remember you and will miss your crusty, candid New York voice, and the fact you'd go a long way to make sure your customers were taken care of properly. They broke the mold when they made this guy and a lot of people will miss him.

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