After 15 years with Kennards Hire in Australia — 14 as CEO — Peter Lancken is stepping down in June as part of a succession plan to ensure the company’s continued growth and development.
“I initiated this move because I thought the time was right,” he says. “Kennards is in fantastic shape and by moving now we can control the change and set the company up for the next 15 years.”
Lancken expects to continue to be involved in the rental industry and has accepted an assignment to serve as Australia’s Hire and Rental Industry Association (HRIA) representative to The Global Rental Alliance, which is administered by the American Rental Association (ARA).
“I don’t want to step down and lose connections. I have a fantastic relationship with Andy [Kennard] and the Kennard family. I plan to still be working, but not in another CEO role. It could be in a non-executive role on a board of directors. I’ll be looking for a business that is attractive and can use my expertise,” he says.
Lancken’s initial expertise was as a civil engineer, having graduated with a civil engineering degree from the University of New South Wales. He says he knew quickly that he would not be a career engineer. “People and marketing motivated me,” he says.
After working with the government for a year, he moved to GKN, a British company whose operations included specialist equipment hire. Lancken held many roles with GKN between 1978 and 1994, including managing its operations in Singapore and Southern California.
During an economic downturn in early 1990, GKN started divesting itself of building services divisions worldwide, including a high-reach business, a scaffolding division and its general equipment rental business. GKN Rentals was sold to Kennards Hire in two transactions in 1992 and 1994 with Lancken joining Kennards when the transactions were complete.
His goal was to grow the business, but no one could have expected just how successful he would be. From having less than 30 locations in New South Wales and South East Queensland, it has grown into a national company with more than 100 locations.
As for the rental industry’s future, Lancken believes the current economic downturn is a “little bump in the road” and that the industry is still in its infancy. “As an industry, we have better equipment, better people and better systems. We can encourage renting versus owning equipment. Our association also does a great job to promote the industry. I think the future is bright,” he says.
Lancken believes the day in 2003 when Andy Kennard was inducted into the Rental Hall of Fame was a defining moment for the industry in Australia. “It showed that Australia and Kennards were being recognized on the worldwide scene,” he says.
He also was delighted when Kennards received the HRIA’s 2008 Hire Company of the Year award in Australia. “I felt very proud collecting that award on behalf of everyone at Kennards because they are responsible for making it the great company it is,” he says. “The award couldn’t have come at a better time because we were also celebrating our 60th year. When a company survives 60 years, it makes you feel good.”
While he will miss working at Kennards, Lancken also is excited by the thought of new career challenges. However, he intends his future work to be at a slower pace, which will give him the chance to play more golf and travel. In April this year, as he began to wind down, he found some time to fulfill one of his dreams by attending the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga.
As for the travel, he says he and his wife have not traveled a lot together. “We will now have that opportunity,” he says.