January 1997 Cover, Actron

Samuel Taylor, Founder of Florida’s Actron Contractors Equipment, Dies

Oct. 21, 2020
Samuel J. Taylor, founder of Actron Contractors Equipment, which grew to 17 branches in Florida, died last week at the age of 91, his son-in-law Hunter Short, corporate support manager for Synergy Equipment, told RER.

Samuel J. Taylor, founder of Actron Contractors Equipment, which grew to 17 branches in Florida, died last week at the age of 91, his son-in-law Hunter Short, corporate support manager for Synergy Equipment, told RER. Taylor founded Actron in 1974 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and later relocated to the Orlando area.

“Sam was originally exposed to the industry when he took a sales management position with the Clipper company, which later became Norton Clipper,” Short said. “He recognized a need to bridge the gap between the homeowner rental houses and the contractor rental companies that were more focused on large equipment, so he started Actron Contractors Equipment. Actron’s model was the small contractor equipment, everything from electric tools to compact earth moving equipment. All the equipment they had could be transported in or behind a pick-up truck.”

Actron grew to 17 branches. It didn’t have a specific corporate headquarters, but, Short said, the headquarters was probably Orlando because that’s where Taylor lived and worked. In an unusual structure, Taylor’s three sons were all co-owners of the business and each set up their own corporation that administered the locations they were responsible for. Taylor’s right-hand-man Richard Botting helped manage the whole company.

The company was acquired by U.S. Rentals in 1997, which was later acquired by United Rentals. Taylor’s sons are all still involved in the rental industry as are many of the company’s employees, many of which still work for United Rentals.

Short wrote the following in an email to RER:

“Sam, his wife Joann and five children lived at that time in Southeast Florida. In 1974, during a recession, he opened what would have been the first of eventually 17 branches throughout the state of Florida. When asked what an Actron was, Sam would simply answer, ‘It says everything, yet means nothing.’ Many who were aware of the success of the company theorized that the name helped put Actron at or near the top of the page when you were searching the Yellow Pages, which was the place to advertise in those days. All three of Sam’s sons, Scott, Matt, and Todd, all would join their dad in the business and partner with him in various markets over time. They grew the business into 17 locations statewide. Sam was very proud that his sons remain in the business today under the name of All-Star Equipment.

“Mr. Taylor or Mr. ‘T’ mentored so many people within the rental industry either directly or indirectly, especially in the Florida market. His philosophy was simple, do not take on more than you can be great at, offer the best possible service and value and a customer will have no reason to go elsewhere. The competition could not have been happier than the day Actron was sold as they were tough to compete with.

“Sam will be remembered for his contribution to the industry and as a man who had great life balance. He loved his family and his family loved him. He was the kind of man who made you feel like you were important no matter your role. He knew how to show people that they were appreciated. He also had a great sense of humor, loved to make work as fun as possible, and loved to laugh. He will be dearly missed by all who have known him.”

Taylor and his sons were featured in an RER article about Actron in January 1997, pictured above.