||Hawk's triumphant return
Wayne Walley is editor of Rental Management, the official magazine of the American Rental Association, 1900 19th St., Moline, IL 61265; 800-334-2177 or 309-764-2475, ext. 253; fax 309-764-2747; e-mail email@example.com
| It’s been several weeks since the close of The Rental Show in February. But what a show it was, including the grand finale giveaway of a 2006 Ford F-250 pickup truck by the American Rental Association as a way to thank members for their roles in the association’s 50-year-history. |
The winning business, Rental City in Champaign, Ill., a 42-year ARA member, received the truck at the end of February. And, as you can read in RM’s special coverage on page 51, Rental City owner Dan Kemphues is still giddy.
After Kemphues pushed the remote control that made the truck’s horn honk to prove Rental City was the winner, one of the first people to congratulate him was ARA’s first president, Leonard Hawk. While Hawk had hoped A-1 Rental Centers in Moline, Ill., would be picked — he changed his return flight to make sure someone representing his son’s store was present at the drawing — he was certainly happy to see a long-time ARA member win the truck.
Hawk has been very visible as part of the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the ARA and The Rental Show. And he has very much enjoyed seeing what his labors, and those of the other 20 founding members of ARA, have wrought.
Since 2001, when Hawk was named to the Rental Hall of Fame, ARA has embraced its first president and he has happily played a role in many of the organization’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. “In 2001, when they named me to the Rental Hall of Fame, that’s the first time I realized anybody knew I was still alive,” Hawk says.
“My first 20 years were very active, but as I phased out of the association — there was nowhere else to use me and have people not think I’m trying to run things — there was a period of 20 years where I hardly heard a word from anybody,” he says.
As for The Rental Show in 2006, Hawk was amazed by the sheer size of the event. “It was way too big for me. A little guy can get lost. But The Rental Show Directory was very good because it had maps of where to find things.”
He especially enjoyed visiting the John Deere exhibit — which was made to look like a 1950s-style drive-in — partially because his daughter works for the company, but also because the manufacturer told him they sold more than 200 units.
“They were selling big units. I remember when I was still ARA president and we had the show in Denver. The Kansas City group and some local people hauled a tractor into the show from International Harvester. That was the first big equipment on display. If we hadn’t started to get manufacturers involved, I’m not sure things would have taken off,” Hawk says.
Perhaps one of the most often-asked questions is whether he expected ARA to become what it is today — one of the world’s strongest trade associations and the organizer of the world’s largest convention and trade show for the rental industry.
“I could see the organization was growing after the first 10 years. I knew it would be a winner and that somebody could take it and go. Chris [Wehrman, ARA executive vice president and CEO] has taken it and gone.”