Former U.S. Rentals and United Rentals executive Bill Berry and former Cramo CEO Gunnar Glifberg will be inducted into the American Rental Association Hall of Fame at its Rental Show Feb. 6 in New Orleans.
Better known to the North American equipment rental industry, Berry was president and CEO of rental chain U.S. Rentals from 1986 until 1998 when he played a major role in the merger of U.S. Rentals with United Rentals. At that time, U.S. Rentals was seen as one of the industry’s most advanced rental companies in terms of management and systems. United Rentals, founded in 1997, was, at the time of the merger, a somewhat loosely organized group of acquired companies; Berry was widely credited with helping to solidify a group of systems that provided a platform for United Rentals’ dynamic growth.
Berry literally grew up in the rental industry. His father owned Berry Equipment Rentals in Modesto, Calif. By age 21, Berry was managing his own branch and at the age of 24 was general manager of five branch locations. Shortly after that, U.S. Rentals acquired Berry Equipment Rentals and kept Bill Berry in a management position. In 1982 he became regional manager for Northern California, later becoming vice president and then president and CEO in 1986. Under Berry’s leadership U.S. Rentals grew from 39 locations and $45 million in annual revenue to 131 locations and about $600 million in revenue.
Berry was widely respected for the way he treated people as well as his management acumen. He encouraged women to join the equipment industry through promotion and recruitment practices, strongly believing in diversity. Berry was also a strong safety advocate, implementing the use of ratchet binders on delivery trucks in the early 1990s. When manufacturers of aerial work platforms introduced fall restraints on some equipment, Berry insisted that U.S. Rentals employees use them long before they became mandated by the government.
In September 2000, slightly more than two years after the merger with United Rentals, Berry died at age 48 after a two-year battle with cancer.
Gunnar Glifberg was recruited to join Cramo in 1994 as CEO. At that time, the company consisted of six different companies without a common business model. Glifberg helped launch a new brand in 1995 and a unifying methodology. He formed a new management team that included people from other industries and academic backgrounds. The introduction of the Cramo School for all employees was an important tool for the company’s success.
Under Glifberg’s leadership, Cramo expanded operations into eight European countries. The company, based in Helsinki, Finland, now has close to 400 branches in 15 countries. Glifberg was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the European Rental Association earlier this year.
The American Rental Association created the Rental Hall of Fame in 2000 to foster an appreciation of the historical development of the rental industry and the leaders who helped develop the industry.
The induction will be held during the keynote session at the Rental Show.