Widely Respected Hertz Equipment Rental Leader Shelton Johnson Dies

Aug. 24, 2021
Johnson entered the rental industry in 1961 and retired in 2009 after 48 years mostly in management positions with Hertz Equipment Rental Corp.

A widely known and respected rental industry leader, Shelton Johnson, died last week at the age of 79. Johnson entered the rental industry in 1961 and retired in 2009 after 48 years mostly in management positions with Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. He served as a branch manager in Raleigh, N.C., from 1962 to 2000, starting off in the industry as a yardman in 1961 and within a year was branch manager. Johnson retired in 2000, but was persuaded out of retirement in 2003 and served as branch manager in Durham, N.C., until he retired for good in 2009.

“For those of us who had the pleasure and opportunity to work for him, Shelton Johnson impacted so many of us in so many positive ways,” wrote Norty Turner, a one-time HERC executive, now senior vice president, services & advanced solutions, United Rentals. “During the last few days of connecting with folks about his passing, I’ve heard time and time again that so many of us attribute so much of whatever success we have reached in this great industry to his guidance, coaching, and example of how to lead the right way.”

“I’m very sad to hear of Shelton’s passing,” added former HERC CEO Gerry Plescia. “My deepest sympathies to his family. He was a giant in the equipment rental industry and at HERC, not only because of his huge success in the Raleigh, N.C., market , but also the impact he had on so many peoples’ lives from his outstanding leadership to the personal connection he had to so many, throughout the company. How many people at Herc today and successful people throughout the industry came from Raleigh, N.C., and Shelton’s leadership? Countless.”

Mike Burdett, marketing manager at Ohio Cat, wrote on LinkedIn: “I enjoyed my years of working with Shelton at Hertz and can attest that he was a legend in the Southeast. I’m sad at the loss.”

Frank Olson, CEO of The Hertz Corp. from 1977-1999 said that Shelton had achieved more pre-tax income than any branch manager in the history of Hertz, either in rental car or equipment rental.

As profitable as his stores were, Johnson is best remembered for his training of others and his relationships with other employees and customers. Former CEO Dan Kaplan wanted to bring Johnson to the company’s New Jersey headquarters to take a more high-profile management position, but Johnson preferred to stay in North Carolina to be closer to the customers and his home.

Shelton Hunter Johnson was born in North Carolina December 31, 1941. He was a licensed electrician, a skilled carpenter, enjoyed fishing and yardwork and was very handy with all kinds of cars and vehicles, according to his obituary.

Johnson was survived by his wife Sharon Johnson; his daughters Shelley Darden and Denise Schuck, sons Ada Johnson and Hunter Johnson, sons-in-law Greg Darden and John Schuck; daughters-in-law Dahl Johnson and Melissa Johnson; a sister Sandra Brown; and six grandchildren.