Sunstate Turns 25

PHOENIX — Sunstate Equipment has reached the 25-year milestone. Now doing business in 48 locations in eight states, Sunstate, No. 12 on the RER 100, began in 1977 when Mike Watts acquired Beldon Rentals, a homeowner-oriented rental center in Phoenix. Watts immediately transformed the business, concentrating on contractors as the primary customer base.

In 1981 Watts acquired, Fuhr Rents, also in Phoenix, and during the 80s continued a steady growth based on acquisitions and start-ups. He opened a branch in the Las Vegas area, in Henderson, Nev., in 1989 and expanded into Utah and Colorado in 1995. He formed a strategic partnership with Moline, Ill.-based Deere and Co., which now owns about 40 percent of Sunstate.

Sunstate became a major player in California when it acquired Pro Rentals in 1997, and expanded into Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma in 1998. Last year the Business Journal of Phoenix listed Sunstate No. 23 among Arizona's privately held companies.

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