In Memoriam: Charlie McCourt

Longtime rental industry pioneer T. Charles “Charlie” McCourt, 76, died Dec. 28, 2012. McCourt was a former rental store owner and the well-known founder and owner of McCourt Manufacturing, Fort Smith, Ark., a leading chair and table supplier to the rental industry.

McCourt began his career as a chemical engineer. In 1964, McCourt purchased a general equipment rental store in Lancaster, Pa. It was the first of six rental stores located in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, which he accrued over the next 10 years. They were so successful that McCourt sold each to its respective manager and was free to pursue the manufacturing of a lightweight folding chair designed to withstand the requirements of the rental industry. McCourt wanted to make a difference by bringing a dimension of service to the rental entrepreneur that he felt was lacking at that time.

In 1983, McCourt Manufacturing began producing the Series 2 polypropylene folding chair in Fort Smith, Ark. McCourt has since produced more than five million chairs and introduced folding tables and other products that, like the Series 5 folding chairs, are designed for hard usage, such as the SuperCorner plywood folding table, which has a plastic corner insert to help extend the useful life of the table, and the Commercialite blow molded plastic folding table. The company continues to be run by Mark McCourt, one of McCourt’s sons.

McCourt was active in Region Two of the American Rental Association (ARA). His dedication was especially shown when, after the birth of his first child, he asked his associates, Allen and Ruth Morehead, to bring his wife and son home from the hospital as he was program chairman for the Region Two convention. Over the years, McCourt served on the ARA Mobile Equipment Council and participated in various seminars. He received the ARA Special Service Award in 1997 and has served as an at-large director of the ARA.

“Charlie was always thinking, never took anything for granted and plowed ahead,” said Allen Morehead, president and owner of Ace Rents, Lancaster, Pa., and a former ARA president. “He was able to look at many options, keeping his goals in mind and come to a decision. I am sure that was a large reason for his success.”

Morehead, who first met McCourt in church in 1964, became a partner with McCourt in the Lancaster rental store in 1970. “Most of what I have is a result of my association with him. It never occurred to me to go into small business. I was an electrical engineer and planned on working for a big company all my life. He told me his experience with a big company and I saw some of the same things, so I bought in with him and it was probably the best thing I ever did as far as my career goes,” Morehead said.

“Charlie was a real leader in the industry and knew the industry at all levels,” said Christine Wehrman, ARA’s executive vice president and CEO. “His success as a rental owner helped build on the success of McCourt Manufacturing, a company that will be at The Rental Show for a 26th year in February. Charlie was proud to be an American manufacturer. His dedication and knowledge imparted to this industry leaves a valuable legacy within the people he touched during his lifetime. We will miss his leadership.”

McCourt is survived by his wife Julia, his mother, Dorathy, and sons Greg of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Mark of Richmond, Va.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Charles McCourt’s name may be sent to Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, 308 Petersburg Rd, Lititz, PA 17543.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13, at First Lutheran Church in Fort Smith, Ark.