A Few Minutes to Remember

Those of you who knew Tim Novoselski probably already know that he died of cancer a few weeks ago after a long painful battle that I won’t write about. He went through great pain in his final months, but I imagine he would prefer that you remember the vital, vibrant and fun-loving Tim. That’s certainly how I will recall him as well, as a fun-loving, joyful, youthful soul who loved and embraced life with vigor.

For you who didn’t know Tim, his father-in-law, Jim Gartland, founded RER back in 1957. Tim and his wife Denise, Gartland’s daughter, took over RER and its then-parent company Miramar Publishing shortly after Gartland’s death in 1980 (see obituary page 11 for more information about his life). Tim loved the rental industry and immersed himself in it, and many of you now are nodding your heads, recalling Tim at rental shows and visiting your rental companies or manufacturing firms.

Tim founded a group of rental company owners back in the 1980s when most rental companies were family owned. Tim and this group of owners (the group was called GORB, an acronym for “Good Old Rental Boys”) would meet every year for a retreat and talk about the important issues going on in the rental industry and the pressing problems of ownership. As I was told, participants would even open their books and share financial information with one another — not something one would expect to see in this day and age. The industry was different then and rental company owners would openly talk about best practices and share information to help each other.

When people remember Tim, they remember the GORB group and they remember the fun-loving Tim. For those of us who worked for him, he was at times a demanding boss, given to marking up copies of the magazine with his critiques, but also a wonderful mentor who taught us much. He taught us about improving our crafts as journalists and he also showed that it was possible to work hard and have fun at the same time. He taught us about the importance of customer service and made sure that never would a phone call or query go unanswered.

In a blog I wrote about Tim — please check it out online at — I also remember how Tim knew and cared about the families of those who worked for him and knew the names of our kids, and how Tim the dog lover would have dog days where we were free to bring our canines to the office and Tim would walk around and pass out dog biscuits.

Tim was very much a visionary. He expected the rental industry to grow to the size and level of sophistication it has reached now. He also foresaw the potential of the special events segment and founded a magazine called Special Events to serve that part of the industry, as well as The Special Event, a tradeshow for the party and catering segment of the rental industry. Tim and his wife Denise started other publications as well.

In 1998, Tim and Denise sold their company to Primedia (now Penton) and RER as well as Special Events magazine and The Special Event are still owned by Penton today. Tim later invested in SmartEquip and remained active with SmartEquip for years, allowing him the opportunity to continue to be part of the rental industry he cared so much about.

This past month also brought the passing of another popular guy in the rental industry, Dan Putnam, who also succumbed to cancer (see obit, page 13). Dan, son of Ken Putnam, one of Multiquip’s top executives for decades, was a district manager for Multiquip for more than 20 years before going on to partner with his brother Tod at Putnam International. When I heard Dan died I thought “he couldn’t have been older than 40,” before I found out he was a still-youthful 53. Dan, an excellent equipment salesman, would sometimes show up at Southern California rental centers to show new equipment with a surfboard strapped to the top of his van, still in a bathing suit. Dan, much like Tim, was full of life and always seemed to have a sparkle in his eye.

Well, there’s not much more I need to say. We’ll miss these men who gave a lot to this wonderful industry. Death claims us all eventually, and it’s always sadder when people are so full of life. All of you who read RER are busy people who are in business to make a living, but take the time when you can to appreciate the people who mean something to you in this world. It sounds like a cliché, but at the end of the day that’s what matters most in our lives. 

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