Year in Review: Top rental news stories of 2012
01/14/2013

Disasters, leadership changes and revenue growth make headlines

Editor’s note: On the whole, 2012 will be mainly remembered as a year dominated by presidential and congressional campaigning, but in the equipment rental industry it will be known for its increase in acquisition activity, including the completion of the United Rentals/RSC merger, rental revenues growing at four times the rate of the general economy, record quarterly reports by manufacturers and national rental companies, and the continuation of proceedings in the Ahern Rentals bankruptcy case.

January

  • Volvo Rents, Shippensburg, Pa., continues to expand. The company acquires two single-location rental companies in Puerto Rico, the first Volvo Rents in that country, as well as SoCal Rental Equip Rent, Glendora, Calif.; and Blue Eagle Equipment, with three locations in South Carolina. Volvo Rents also opens a new location in Englewood, Colo.

February

  • Coble Trench Safety (CTS), Greensboro, N.C., is sold to United Rentals, Greenwich, Conn., for an undisclosed sum. This followed the death of Tom Coble, CTS founder and president, in a Jan. 20, 2012, plane crash.
  • The Rental Show 2012, held in New Orleans for the first time in a decade, sees excitement, enthusiasm, buying and selling exceed expectations. Attendees and exhibitors agree that there has been a growing change in attitude, bolstering the fact that the equipment rental industry is positioned well for continued growth and further market penetration. Equipment rental revenue growth in 2012 is forecast to be more than four times that of the general economy. Attendance at the show for 2012 increased nearly 20 percent over 2011, with the number of rental businesses up nearly 25 percent. Those traveling to New Orleans came from all 50 United States, nearly every Canadian province and more than 40 countries. The ARA Foundation raises nearly $92,000 during the show from donations and its annual charity auction.

March

  • Snorkel, Elwood, Kan., announces a plan to add 20 to 30 percent more workers.
  • Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. (HERC), Park Ridge, N.J., acquires Arpielle Equipment Co., a New York City-based rental company focused primarily on rentals to the construction and industrial markets. It is HERC’s fifth acquisition in 12 months.
  • Volvo Rents in the month acquires DixEquip, a single-location construction equipment rental company located in Houston; Great Plains Rent-All, a four-store equipment rental company based in Southern Oklahoma, with stores in Ada, Ardmore, Duncan and Durant; and Max Equipment Rentals, a two-location construction equipment rental company with stores in Oceanside and Perris, Calif.
  • Nearly 90 American Rental Association (ARA) members from 36 states travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with their U.S. representatives and senators by participating in ARA’s National Legislative Caucus. The caucus program focuses on the year’s key industry issues of multi-year funding for transportation and infrastructure, and repeal of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) within current health care legislation.
  • M&T Bank forecloses on Stone Construction Equipment, Honeoye, N.Y. The bank seizes assets and shuts down operations of the equipment manufacturer.

April

  • Ahern Rentals, which filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 22, 2011, argues for and receives its first extension for its period of exclusivity. The court allows 120 days for the presentation of a reorganization plan and an additional 60 days for its debtors to vote on the approval of that plan. Ahern will receive repeated extensions through Dec. 7, 2012.
  • The Toro Co., Bloomington, Minn., a company best known for its lawnmowers, buys Stone Construction Equipment. It is Toro’s fifth acquisition in less than 18 months.
  • Classic Party Rentals appoints Jeff Black as its new president and CEO, replacing Pedro Mata, who had led the company for the past two years.
  • Sunbelt Rentals, Fort Mill, S.C., a subsidiary of U.K.-based Ashtead Group plc, purchases Topp Portable Air and its related company, Precision Steel Works, in a cash transaction.
  • On April 30, the United Rentals merger with RSC Holdings, which was announced on Dec. 16, 2011, is completed. With the acquisition, United Rentals holds about 15 percent of the equipment rental market share in the U.S.

May

  • Constellation Software, Toronto, purchases Wynne Systems, InfoManager and Wynne Systems EMEA, N.V. from United Rentals. Constellation Software also has owned Solutions by Computer (SBC) since 2008.
  • Karl’s Event Services, Oak Creek, Wis., sets a Guinness World Record for the largest single-unit marquee and largest temporary stage for its 230,000-sq.-ft. tent at the Frieze Art Fair, New York.
  • Volvo Rents acquires Action Equipment Rental, a three-location construction equipment rental company with stores in Alamogordo, Las Cruces and Silver City, N.M.; and Rental Solutions, a three-location construction equipment rental company with stores in Napa Valley, Santa Rosa and Cloverdale, Calif.
  • Mike Flesher, president of the American Rental Association (ARA) and president of Taylor Rental Center in Vestal, N.Y., appears before the Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access in the Rayburn House Office Building on May 30 to provide testimony regarding the far-reaching impact of the estate tax on small businesses and the economy.

June

  • National Equipment Register (NER) enters Canada in an effort to further combat the issue of equipment theft in North America.
  • United Rentals completes the integration of RSC into a common IT system in less than 40 days.
  • Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. (HERC) announces plans to hire hundreds of new employees over the summer and holds two-day employment open houses at more than 50 HERC locations throughout the country.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In a much anticipated decision, the justices, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, find that the individual mandate requiring virtually everyone to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty is constitutional.

July

  • Poe’s Rentals closes its original Coral Gables, Fla., store after being in that location for 64 years. Frank Poe Sr. started a fertilizer and tool business in 1948 and added equipment rental in 1952.
  • The group of shareholding companies that own New Zealand equipment rental company HireQuip is placed into receivership by its financiers. Receivership is a type of managed bankruptcy.

August

  • Sullair Corp., Michigan City, Ind., a manufacturer of air compressors, is sold to private equity firms of The Carlyle Group and BC Partners.
  • Ahern Rentals is given a two-month extension to its exclusivity period to Oct. 9. Several creditors object to the extension.

September

  • The American Rental Association (ARA) announces winning candidates in its board elections. Paul Phelon, current ARA general tool and equipment services shared interest group (SIG) chairman and president, Timp Rental Center, Orem, Utah, is elected the association’s new president-elect, effective at the end of The Rental Show 2013 in Las Vegas, and will take the gavel as president at the conclusion of The Rental Show 2014 in Orlando.
  • The American Rental Association (ARA) announces that Wynne Systems, Irvine, Calif., is the first software company serving the equipment rental industry to achieve ARA Rental Market Metrics™ certification.
  • Hurricane Isaac hits the Gulf Coast and many equipment manufacturers respond to the relief effort with pumps and temporary power.
  • Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. (HERC), Park Ridge, N.J., acquires Pioneer Equipment Rental and Sales, a Ponca City, Okla.-based construction and industrial equipment rental company with 10 locations in Oklahoma and one in Denton, Texas. Pioneer was founded in 1998 as an independent rental company specializing in the rental and sale of equipment for industrial, construction, earthmoving and material handling customers, serving Oklahoma, Southern Kansas and Northern Texas.

October

  • Yard Marvel Manufacturing Co., Spokane, Wash., announces its plans to close its doors in early November. The company had been in business since 1955 as a manufacturer of tillers, power rakes and aerators.
  • Hurricane Sandy pummels the East Coast of the U.S. with wind and water. Thousands are left without power. Equipment rental companies and equipment manufacturers supply pumps, generators and other equipment for the recovery, as well as many donations for the relief effort.

November

  • Rainier Industries, Seattle, acquires The SEC Group, Wilsonville, Ore.
  • The shareholders of CNH Global, which manufactures Case- and New Holland-branded agriculture and construction equipment, approve a merger offer by Fiat Industrial S.p.A.

December

  • Carl Icahn makes a buyout bid to shareholders of Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., the parent of aerial manufacturer JLG Industries. When Icahn can only get offers for about 22 percent of shares, he lets the offer expire.
  • Ahern Rentals presents its plan for debt reorganization in its bankruptcy case. The plan calls for more lenient payback of its debt, but offers no equity in the rental company to creditors. The plan is rejected by the judge in the case and creditors. Ahern is given a final one-week extension to its period of exclusivity, but the company presents no alternative plan.