ARA gives Special Service Award to Leo Swan, founder and president of Equipment Development Co. at ARA convention in Houston. Local association members place an ad in influential Life magazine promoting the annual convention. Swan wrote an RER column for quite a few years entitled “Salt ‘n Satire.”
Elmen Rent All, Sioux Falls, S.D., acquires United Rent-Alls of Sioux City, Iowa, bringing the Elmen chain to seven branches. The company predicts it will top $1 million in revenue in 1970.
An affiliate of U-Haul Truck & Trailer Corp. acquires A to Z Rental through federal district bankruptcy court. Amerco Inc., U-Haul owner, appoints 15-year U-Haul executive Logan Frank president of A to Z.
RER predicts that as the rental industry becomes more professional, the phrase “We Rent Most Everything” will fade from use, with the exception of small towns where the general rental store will be the dominating force. In larger metropolitan areas, RER predicts, the rental specialist who focuses on targeted market niches, will become the dominant trend.
A rising young rental company owner Don O’Neal of A-1 Rental Service, Fort Worth, Texas, predicts: “The future will bring forth a ‘new breed’ of owner-managers for the rental industry. The general rental center of 1980 will be more specialized than it is today. There will be more affluent owners and investors in this growing industry. Individuals and corporations with substantial capital will be investing in this industry. Managers to head up these dynamic rental operations will be higher educated and skilled men with abilities in all phases of the rental business. … As the rental industry becomes larger, it becomes a more attractive target for big money and big business.”
RER proclaims the 1970s, “The Golden Age of Rental.”
The first Earth Day is celebrated on April 22, 1970.
RER runs a cover story: “3 Ways to Build Your Business.” The three ways, each of which it covers in an in-depth discussion are “Banker — Friend or Foe,” “Cartoon Advertising,” and “Courtesy Cards.” Bill Cushing of Diablo Rental, Pacheco, Calif., says, “We have fallen down in not spending time in indoctrinating our bankers as to the potential of the rental industry as a whole.” Cushing offers tips on developing relations with bankers, such as inviting local bankers to attend company meetings to understand rental problems, and for “statewide” companies to invite branch managers from all over the state to visit. The same could be applied nationally.
As for cartoon advertising, RER for years ran rental-related cartoons that were immensely popular with readers. Rent-All Plaza in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., printed some of them in local newspaper ads, and they caught on in popularity with customers.
Courtesy cards were cards with information about the customer, including drivers’ license number, bank account number, address, employment information, address and a few other points of information. The customer would have a customer number that could be stamped on a contract, making the contract process almost instantaneous, and would provide a type of preferred customer status for that customer.
A survey of its readership conducted by Contractors and Engineers magazine reveals that 68 percent rent construction equipment and 32 percent do not. An officer of a top construction firm told C&E: “We, and many other contractors, are deserting rental-purchase plans to go strictly rental on more and more pieces of equipment. This provides more new units as we move from one jobsite to another. We don’t have to pay for moving these units, and, in addition, we get the benefits associated with newer equipment — greater productivity and less downtime.” Another stated benefit was renting the more appropriate unit rather than attempting to adapt a unit the contractor owned.
The article predicts increasing usage of rental in the years to come.
NFL Monday Night Football premiers on ABC on Sept. 21, 1970.
Oct. ’70: California lieutenant governor Ed Reinecke addresses California Rental Association convention’s general assembly.
Satchel Paige becomes the first Negro League player to become voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Feb. 9, 1971.
Bob’s Rent-All installs a dual-lens camera system that takes a picture of each customer along with his driver’s license and rental equipment simultaneously. The company hopes that the system, which costs less than a penny per picture, will help cut down conversion theft.
Starbucks opens first store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971. Starbucks is named after the first mate in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.
March ’71: The California Rental Association initiates a bumper sticker campaign to promote the rental concept. It holds a contest for best slogan; winners were “Don’t Invest — Rent the Best” and “Be Cool — Rent a Tool.”
Dirty Harry, starring Clint Eastwood, opens in 1971 and is a big box office hit.
In an RER survey of contractors, while 40 percent rated the service of rental firms as excellent, 48 percent rated it only as “fair” and 11 percent rated rental service as “poor.”
In 1971, Southwest Airlines begins service between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Southwest ends its inaugural year with four aircraft and 195 employees.
California lieutenant governor Ed Reinecke addresses California Rental Association convention’s general assembly.
Walt Disney World opens in Florida on Oct. 1, 1971.
Hire News, a new magazine for the equipment rental industry in England, publishes its first issue.
The 26th Amendment of the Constitution is adopted in 1971 giving 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds the right to vote.
Jim Kerr, owner of Rent-All Plaza in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., obtains a building, installs floors, telephones, brings in equipment, puts up signs and opens a branch in nearby Hopwell Junction in six days time.
On Feb. 2, 1972, George Foreman beats Joe Frazier by a knockout in two rounds to lift the world's Heavyweight championship from Frazier. It is HBO Boxing's first telecast.
RER publishes a feature entitled: “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Computer?” The article reports that owners of smaller rental companies were just beginning to consider the possibility of using a computer system to help manage their operation. The article illustrates how Alhambra, Calif.-based A-1 Lou’s, a three-yard operation with an inventory of about $900,000, installed a software system. The system gives a complete monthly breakdown of what was rented, how often, to whom, average dollar amount, by equipment group, as well as a review of charge customers. A-1 president Dale Peterson says the system has done wonders for receivables, inventory analysis and more.
Junior Keene of The Tool Crib says the idea that computers are only for large companies is a myth, pointing out that when inventory is computer controlled when small, growth is much easier.
Rental Tools & Equipment, a multi-branch rental company based in Bladensburg, Md., opens what it calls “the world’s first automated rental yard.” The 43-foot-high building features a 40-foot-high by 60-foot-long “racker stacker,” an automatic storage and retrieval system that picks up and delivers a pallet-load of stored equipment and brings it to the loading area. After the equipment is loaded, the system restores the pallets to their original positions.
Rental Tools’ first branch using the system is in Fairfax, Va., and the company plans to open another with the system in Norfolk, Va., the company’s sixth location.
Newly elected ARA president James Keenan says there are far too many rental yards with a sub-par image. Keenan criticizes “stores with signs hanging, weeds growing on the property, signs faded and illegible, no customer parking, trash of all kinds lying everywhere, counters that look like workbenches, old tools around on the floors, oil smears, dust and dirt, and dirty restrooms and drinking facilities.”
Keenan points out that rental centers rent pressure washers, paint spray equipment, floor-cleaning equipment and other items that they fail to use to clean their own facilities, communicating a poor image of the industry. “Why is it that so many stores and yards across the country are more junkyards than rental facilities?” he asks.
JLG adds its first scissorlift to the construction market.
Mary Anna Anderson, a Los Angeles attorney, files a lawsuit against Northridge Equipment Rentals for its refusal to rent her a roto-tiller because of her gender.
Dr. Martin Cooper, a former general manager for the systems division at Motorola, is considered the inventor of the first modern portable handset. Cooper makes the first call on a portable cell phone in April of 1973, calling his rival, Joel Engel, head of research for Bell Laboratories, which introduced the idea of cellular communications in 1947 with the police car technology. However, Motorola was the first to incorporate the technology into a portable device that was designed for use outside of an automobile.
Eighty-one members of leading Japanese rental associations visit rental centers in northern and southern California. NBC television covers their visit to Sam’s U-Drive in the Los Angeles area. The Japanese visitors praised U.S. rental centers for their cleanliness, saying their Japanese locations are not as clean. However, the visitors said their yards are considerably larger in Japan, with larger equipment and inventory, and more inclined toward heavy equipment, with virtually no interest in rentals on the part of homeowners.
Miami-based truck rental company Ryder announces entry into the homeowner and light contractor rental arena with a pilot rental center in Dallas known as Ryder Rental Center. The pilot operation carries about $250,000 in inventory. Ryder says it will open a second rental center by the end of the year, and hopes to open 100 within three to four years.
ARA releases 1972 Cost of Doing Business Survey results, indicating the average revenue of respondents climbed from $256,000 in 1971 to $370,000 in 1972. Profitability also increased with pre-tax profits climbing from 6.3 percent of revenues to 8.5 percent, with return on investment growing from 14.5 percent to 22.6 percent.
A Los Angeles Superior court judge denies request from California Rental Association for an injunction against U-Haul Co.’s renting of van trucks from service stations in commercial zones in Los Angeles. CRA’s suit was based on the Los Angeles Municipal Code’s prohibition of such rentals. The judge ruled the L.A. code’s meaning wasn’t sufficiently clear to grant the request.
RER goes behind bars to interview more than 80 inmates of the State Prison of Southern Michigan, the world’s largest walled prison, about how they approach and prepare to overcome alarm systems.
Sam Greenberg, of Van Nuys, Calif.-based Sam’s U-Drive, is appointed to the Los Angeles Airport Commission by recently elected L.A. mayor Tom Bradley. The committee is responsible to the Mayor’s office in the formulation of policies and programs for the current and future development of the L.A. airport, then one of the world’s largest.
United Rent-Alls celebrates 25-year milestone. URA president Robert Feinstein says that in 1973 the average store volume increased 25 percent.
Second-term ARA president James Keenan creates the “President’s Image-Building Award” to be presented annually to rental companies that help the industry upgrade the image they present to the public. To qualify, the company must have undertaken a major building project, either erecting a new building or remodeling an existing structure, including improvements in layout and display. The first award is presented to Horton and John Hillier of a rental company in Toronto.
On Feb. 27, 1974, People magazine is published for the first time.
As a severe fuel crisis hits North America, resulting in long gas lines and causing severe hardships to the rental industry, an RER survey indicates that only 11 percent of rental industry participants believe the official explanations from the U.S. government and oil companies. The price of diesel fuel more than doubles, in some areas, compared with the previous year. “Thank God I don’t have any diesel equipment,” says one rental operator. “Because it just wouldn’t be running.”
A group of California rental people stage a mock OSHA raid at several southern California rental centers to evaluate the amount of improvement rental companies must make to comply with newly created OSHA regulations. Among the violations spotted were electrical cords in need of replacement; third prongs missing or bent backwards on electrical plugs; ladders without shoes; splits in scaffolding planks; oxygen and acetylene tanks not separated by the required distance; no safety decals on machines; lack of rear-end warning devices on towed vehicles; fire extinguishers unmarked and overdue for inspection; and an overall lack of warning signs.
On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron blasts his 715th home run, a shot to left center field at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, moving him past Babe Ruth’s record of 714 homeruns on the career homerun list.
Sioux Falls, S.D.-based rental chain Elmen Rent-All develops convention service to help attract revenue during long winter months. The staff designs and rents exhibit equipment as well as delivers it, puts it up and takes it down.
United Rent-Alls president Robert Feinstein acquires the franchise rental chain from parent company International Industries. The company, based in Los Angeles (originally founded in Lincoln, Neb., in 1948) has about 250 franchise rental centers.
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley declares week of Feb. 9-14 “Construction Equipment Week” in honor of ConExpo trade show held in the Windy City that week. More than 125,000 people attend the event and more than $150 million worth of equipment is displayed.
Rental company owner Bob Elmen, in answer to chronic inflation in the U.S. economy, suggests raising rates 15 to 20 percent. In a counterpoint in RER’s May issue, William Turk, owner of McAllen Rental Service in Texas, emphasizes improving efficiency, cutting costs and increasing productivity rather than raising rates which would, in his view, exacerbate the inflationary cycle.
Jack Nicholson wins Academy Award for Best Actor in 1975 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Respected industry pioneer Robert Irving dies at age 58. Irving founded Machinery Rental Co. in the late 1940s and equipment manufacturers American Pneumatic Tool, Mark Industries, Rental Yard Supply Corp., and Thunderbird Manufacturing. He also founded Leasing Enterprises, which leased equipment to rental centers and acquired more than 35 rental centers.
A quarterly business report shows mixed results but an overall downward trend as the country slogs through a recession. A 62-percent majority report collections are “getting more difficult,” with an additional 6 percent saying collections are “becoming very serious.”
Ed Latek, former owner of a Chicago-area rental company and frequent RER contributor, becomes operational manager of R.E.L.I., a company that specializes in financing for rental companies leasing equipment.
Jaws opens in 1975, earning the 27-year-old director, Steven Spielberg, a place in Hollywood. It grosses $438 million in eleven weeks, and is the first film to top the $100 million record in box-office revenues (cruising past previous pacesetters Gone With the Wind (1939) and The Sound of Music (1965)).
Angus Mercer (pictured), owner of Charlotte, N.C.-based Contractors Service & Rental, is profiled in RER as one of a new breed of distributors strong in the rental business. Mercer is active in ARA and AED and runs profitable operations in rental as well as sales and service.
Bruce Springsteen appears on the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazine simultaneously. Prior to this, only world leaders received this honor.
The Ridge Tool Co. establishes network of 48 authorized Warranty Repair Centers throughout the U.S., with the ultimate goal of establishing 70 such centers. The repair centers will provide free warranty repairs on Ridge’s line of electrical power tools.
With the employment of outside sales staff promoting rental still a relatively new concept, RER polls a group of readers and finds 33 of 58 respondents do not employ them, although 12 of the 33 are considering it for the future.
ARA celebrates its 20th annual rental convention. RER publisher Jim Gartland serves as master of ceremonies at the awards banquet. The grand prize at the convention was a mink jacket with a fox collar, won by Sherry Nichols, Rent-All Service, Denver. Sam Greenberg, often called “granddaddy of rental” was presented with ARA’s Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of his many contributions to the industry.
RER’s Gartland (pictured speaking at a CRA convention), in a seminar at the convention, reports that more than half the contractor/industrial rental firms suffered decreases in 1975, although all expected an increase in 1976.
Estimates that at least 80 percent of U.S. homes built more than two or three years before require re-insulation, creating a strong rental market for the do-it-yourself home insulation trend.
Taylor Rental Centers, a national franchise organization, opens its 400th rental center.
Multiquip acquires the Mikasa compaction and QP pump divisions of Long Beach, Calif.-based Mark Industries. Mark will continue to concentrate on its Parkerlift scissorlift division.
Mark Industries unveils 38-foot Parkerlift scissorlift with a working height of 44 feet, which, the company says, is the highest extension yet for a machine of its type. Company sales manager Dick Moyer says two of the first machines have been sold to National Football League teams.
Montreal-based Perco Ltd., a rental company doing business since the late 1930s, is sold by owner Irv Mauer to Peter Johnson and Robert de Fougerolles.
The United States celebrates its bicentennial on July 4, 1976 with the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
In the “unusual rental” category, a customer rented a welder from Peters Rentals, Napa, Calif., and apparently returned the item Friday afternoon without anybody seeing him or checking in the equipment. He returned Monday morning to pay his bill, saying he was in a hurry so he cut the chain on a back fence and then welded it back together moments before the alarm system was activated for the night.
South Dakota state legislature passes conversion law.
Houston-based Rent-It, which later became Prime Equipment (now Rental Service Corp.) acquires Safway Equipment & Material Supply of Wichita Falls, Texas, and Lawton, Okla., giving the company, owned by Dugan Hill and Jim Browder, 10 branches.
Two hundred fifty-five rental firms surveyed in ARA’s Cost of Doing Business survey show a slight year-over-year revenue gain with contractor/industrial rental companies jumping 12 percent. The mid-’70s recession apparently takes its toll as return on revenues drops to 7.6 percent from 9.4 percent in 1974.
Officials from the ARA and CRA meet officially for the first time. The Salt Lake City meeting probes ways to combat government noise and safety regulations that many rental dealers say will paralyze the industry with increased operating costs, restricted rentals and higher priced equipment.
Forty-six rental manufacturers pledge to donate or load $87,000 worth of new equipment to help educate students in Western Iowa Tech’s new course on rental education. RER offers a scholarship for a student interested in learning about the rental business.
Vic Neumann, who founded the A to Z rental chain in 1962 founds Time Rental franchise with 16 operations in the Midwest. For a flat fee of $50,000, Neumann acts as management consultant for new rental entrepreneurs. He scouts areas short on rental businesses and places ads in “Business Opportunities” sections of local newspapers. Services include leasing a building, advising on a start-up inventory, and setting up accounting and financial plans, and continuing for five years in an advisory capacity.
The release of the film and soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever in 1977, which became the number one best-selling soundtrack of all time, turns disco into a mainstream music genre.
Palmer Grasse, father of RER columnist Bill Grasse, original co-founder of Acme Rents and supplier to the rental industry for 40 years, sells his A. Palmer Scaffold and Equipment Co. to William “Ben” Hinkle and establishes Palmer Distributing Co., manufacturer and distributor of floor-care equipment.
Ferrari International introduces 14-hp tillers to U.S. market.
Contractor rental volume soars 21.4 percent for the first half of 1977, according to a comprehensive RER mail survey, the best numbers since 1973.
Rental pioneer Dave Snegg, who founded The Tool Crib in Pasadena, Calif., in 1947, sells the company and its two branches to its general manager and vice president Pete Furbish.
The United Rent-Alls franchise reaches agreement with the Duskin Company of Japan to franchise United Rent-All stores in Japan, making United the only general rental company to expand internationally. Duskin is Japan’s largest franchiser.
Wanamaker Rents, Burbank, Calif., founded by industry pioneer Jack Wanamaker, sustains an estimated $1.5 million in damage when a fire guts two shops, a 100-foot-by-165-foot parts warehouse and a portable tool display area. Four Wanamaker locations depended on the shops and parts warehouse. Police don’t rule out arson and criminal intent. The company remains open for business as the main yard, office area, trucks and large equipment were not damaged.
A Taylor Rental franchise in Houston goes independent, starting ARK Rental Center. In a letter to customers and suppliers, owner Richard Scherzinger says: “Only the name has changed, we have the same equipment – just like Noah, at least two of everything.”
Rent-It, Houston, which began its rental operations in 1957 in a 10-foot-by-20-foot shed, is acquired by W. R. Grace & Co., for $5.3 million. Dugan Hill remains as company president.
A general survey of rental firms nationwide reveal 1977 rental volumes to be an average of 20 percent up compared to the previous year.
The Valley News, a daily newspaper covering the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, names Sam Greenberg one of the valley’s top “movers and shakers.” Others include Bob Hope, Gene Autry, singer Pearl Bailey and police chief Ed Davis.
Ed Latek acquires all the stock of Reli Leasing Corp. and forms Reli Financial, now based in Chicago.
Taylor Rental Corp. signs up its 500th franchisee.
A man rents a van from Vern’s Rental, San Mateo, Calif., and then uses it to kidnap a child. However, counterman Doug Byrd, who rented the van and noticed odd behavior on the customer’s part, successfully identifies the kidnapper the following day when an FBI agent presents him with a group of photos of potential suspects. The police then find the man at a train station where a money drop is to be made. The boy is returned to his family unharmed.
Environmental Protection Agency official Kenneth Feith, who heads the regulatory agency’s noise abatement program tours the ARA show’s equipment displays at the invitation of veteran rental owner Howard Burnett of Rent It Center, Salt Lake City. Feith told RER his visit was to meet membership and answer questions to clarify 1978 noise-abatement laws for portable air compressors with less than 250 cfm.
Handyman Rental buys The Tool Shed, Tampa, Fla., one of that city’s oldest rental businesses. The Tool Shed opened for business in 1956.
Akira Nishio, president of Osaka, Japan-based Nishio Lease, a $20 million rental firm, tells RER he plans to inaugurate homeowner rental with small tools, a concept virtually unknown in Japan despite a significant contractor rental industry. Nishio says changes in Japan’s lifestyle, particularly the trend towards a five-day work week rather than seven as in the past, are giving Japanese workers more free time for home renovation and repair.
Leasing Enterprises Inc., Irvine, Calif., acquires Yorba Rentals, Chino, Calif., and C&F Rentals, Bakersfield. President of LEI is Ira Mendelsohn who later heads U.S. Rentals and Acme Rents.
Rental center owner Joe Doran, A&A Tool Rentals & Sales, Stockton, Calif., tells results of a survey that shows 33 of 37 respondents use computer service bureaus, while the other four own in-house computers. Doran struggled to master accounting on a “mini-computer” but points to the need for computer software unique to the rental industry and forms a group to try to develop such software.
Komatsu Forklift Co. opens new U.S. headquarters in La Mirada, Calif.
Tim Lewis, owner of Red-E-Rentals, Costa Mesa, Calif., builds his own $7,000 computer system comprised of components of various brands. The system’s main function is cost accounting, with daily and monthly read-outs on equipment performance on the entire inventory according to specific equipment categories. Lewis plans to have an accounts receivable program in the near future.
Denver-based Rent-It Center, almost completely destroyed in dramatic 1965 flooding, moves to a large modern location on a 3-acre lot three blocks away, not far from Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos. In its first three months, volume increases 20 percent.
The main office and showroom of Redburn’s Rental Exchange in Wichita, Kan., is gutted by fire while the staff — including owner and ARA president Al Redburn — celebrates its annual Christmas party at a downtown hotel. The building was the original location when the company started in 1955. Redburn estimates building repairs at $25,000 and $45,000 to replace tool inventory. Most of the larger equipment, stored outside or in the shop, wasn’t damaged.
On the cutting edge of technology, the JLG product line included another industry first: a 110-foot boomlift that used circuit board technology in its controls. That same year JLG offered four scissorlift models with up to 35 feet of reach.
ESPN is launched in 1979 and SportsCenter is its flagship studio show.
Japan’s Duskin Co. opens its first Japanese United Rent-Alls franchise operation in a suburb of Osaka. The company plans to open a second store in Hiroshima in March.
United Rent-Alls opens a solar-heated “superstore” in West Covina, Calif.
Bruce Robertson, owner of Robbie Rents in Stafford, Ariz., donates wet/dry vacuums, weed burners, propane heaters, pressure washers, compactors, steam cleaners, pavement breakers and hand and electric tools to help flood victims in the nearby town of Duncan, Ariz. He also drives his Deere backhoe/loader 39 miles and spends nine days operating the loader to move mud and debris from driveways, streets and yards. Robertson lends the equipment without charge to anyone in need.
Joe Novak, Rent-All Center, Fairfield, Calif., produces series of 8mm color/sound films involving operating instructions for equipment service responsibilities to be practiced in a rental center. Novak develops the program into a two-day training program for new employees to be taken on the road. (Novak later serves as educational director of CRA.)
Key industry supplier Multiquip moves to spacious new location in Carson, Calif., large enough for sales offices, training, warehouses and a service center. Multiquip is still on the same property, with numerous adjacent properties and new buildings added.
Hertz Equipment Rental says it will spend $10 million in the first quarter on a wide variety of equipment for rental to contractors.
Two years after opening 16 Time Rental franchise rental centers, the company opens its 57th branch in Aurora, Colo. The company’s branches are in 18 states, including 19 in Colorado.
Turfco Mfg., Minneapolis, Minn., acquires Sodmaster division of Jacobsen Manufacturing.
Peter Furbish, owner of Pasadena, Calif.-based The Tool Crib, launches RIMS (Rental Inventory Management Systems), after testing it for a year at Tool Crib’s main location. RIMS enables Furbish to keep records on 2,700 pieces of equipment, including a log of maintenance expenses (parts, materials, labor). Daily and monthly income reports, printing of monthly statements, accounts receivable are part of the RIMS package.
Stephenson’s Rent-All, based in the Toronto area, adds two new locations giving the Canadian chain 16 branches in Ontario.
As the price of gasoline moves perilously close to $1 per gallon, and shortages seriously affect America’s driving habits, rental people contemplate strategies such as raising rates and delivery charges, eliminating service calls, switching to propane fuel, buying more drums to store more gasoline and charging a gasoline surcharge.
An El Cajon, Calif., man starts a “rent-a-goat” business, saying the animals are the most efficient in clearing fields of weeds. The man receives 20 calls the first day.
Taylor Rental Center opens 600th store with a grand opening in Laredo, Texas.
U.S. Rentals acquires three companies with eight outlets, giving the Irvine, Calif.-based rental chain 38 outlets. The company, led by president Ira Mendelsohn, acquires six-location Four Points Rentals, San Jose, Calif., and Bellaire Rentals, Houston.