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Ashtead Group Names New CEO at Sunbelt Rentals

Ashtead Group plc, parent company of Sunbelt Rentals, today announced the departure of president and CEO Cliff Miller. Miller, who has been with Sunbelt 25 years, will be replaced, effective mid-April, by Joseph James Phelan, who comes to Sunbelt after serving as CEO of DHL Global Mail, based in Weston, Fla. Before joining Deutsche Post DHL in 2004, Phelan held a number of senior executive positions with American Airlines.

“We’re very grateful for the work Cliff Miller has done for a number of years,” Ashtead chief executive Geoff Drabble told RER. “Cliff did some great work, particularly the integration of NationsRent and he did some great work in preparing us for the downturn that we find ourselves in now. But looking to take the business forward through the recession requires a slightly different skill set. It’s a long haul and it’s going to be a medium-term strategy and as a result of that, I’m excited to bring in a seasoned executive like Joe.”

Drabble said he felt Phelan coming to the organization from outside the industry is a positive. “We’ve got a great team in terms of their knowledge of the rental industry and our strength and depth throughout the organization is exceptional,” he added. “But a fresh pair of eyes in times like this is important. He also brings very strong experience in logistics from DHL, which we think is important in terms of taking the business forward and he also brings some international experience which may be relevant in terms of developing Sunbelt and the Ashtead Group. Businesses evolve and there are appropriate times for change. Given where we are in the evolution of the business and the state of the economy, it seemed an appropriate point.”

Phelan, as Miller was, will be a director of Ashtead’s board.

Drabble added that the senior management of Sunbelt Rentals will remain in place. In terms of the future, Drabble said, the company has relatively low multiple of debt, which is structured for the long term, and is in strong financial shape to weather the current recession.

Based in Fort Mills, S.C., Sunbelt Rentals is the third largest rental company in North America. Parent company Ashtead Group plc also owns A-Plant, of the U.K.’s largest equipment rental firms.

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