Bruce Dressel, president and CEO of Sunbelt Rentals, has left the Charlotte, N.C.-based rental chain, according to its parent company, U.K.-based Ashtead PLC.
George Burnett, Ashtead Group chief executive, will be based in the United States for the foreseeable future, and the Sunbelt senior management team will report directly to him.
Burnett told RER his plan is to remain in the United States only as long as necessary to find a replacement for Dressel and make sure that the company is well-positioned for the future.
“I strongly believe an American company should be operated by Americans,” Burnett said. “We have a very strong internal candidate and we also may consider candidates from outside the company.”
Burnett denied speculation that Dressel’s departure is linked to the company’s recent accounting difficulties. “Dressel did a wonderful job and left the company in excellent shape,” Burnett said. “His departure was his own decision and is somewhat of a surprise because he was passionately involved in Sunbelt for many years. But we are all complex human beings and we all make certain decisions in life and Bruce evidently reached a point where he decided to do something different.”
Burnett expressed strong confidence in Sunbelt’s market position in the United States, despite Ashtead -- which also owns A-Plant plc in the United Kingdom -- posting a fiscal year loss. Ashtead acquired Sunbelt in the early 1990s when the company had 20 locations and had 27 as recently as 1997 when it began a period of expansion, mostly through greenfield startups and one major acquisition, that of BET’s U.S. locations. Dressel served as CEO throughout the company’s expansion period.
Burnett said that although the company is not seeking acquisition opportunities, it does have aggressive growth plans which are likely to be acted upon when the economy recovers.