I remember the very first ARA trade show I attended back in 1990. I don't recall specifically what city it was in or what the attendance was like but it seemed below the expectations of many of the manufacturers. One of my assignments was to go around and ask vendors how the show was and after a number of responses that the attendance was less than hoped for but the quality of interest was good, recited in kind of a politically correct smiling tone, I was getting bored until I came to an aerial booth and was introduced to a dark-haired man who shook my hand with a bored smirk and told me the show was, well, it was a four-letter word I can't print. He went on to add that the show organizers at that time had their collective heads in a place I can't mention.
After a couple of minutes of this, Frank Scarborough then asked me how I was and invited me to sit down and for the next 15 or 20 minutes taught me a lot about the aerial rental industry that I would come to find fascinating over the years. I soon learned that Frank was far from the dour, negative person he seemed at the beginning of that conversation, but was a warm, gracious and hospitable individual who generally lived up to his first name, never being afraid to tell it like he felt it. His first name described his nature well — he was frank, candid and sometimes critical of things he felt were wrong. He wrote a number of guest columns for RER — some under the moniker of “Frankly Speaking” — including some pointed barbs at people and companies and trends in the industry he didn't agree with. Still, one of the things I learned about Frank was that he was just as likely to turn the criticism on himself.
When I learned, much to my surprise, that Frank died earlier this month of a massive stroke at the too-young age of 62 — see our obituary on page 13 — a lot of memories came back. Sitting and drinking a beer with him after touring UpRight's Selma, Calif., factory in 100-degree heat. Later touring Snorkel's plant in Elwood, Kan., after he almost single-handedly resurrected that company from the scrap heap, and I remember how proud he was of its growth. Gaining the backing of local businessman Al Havlin and bringing back Snorkel stalwarts Bob Buehler and others, Scarborough was proud of the fact that they were supporting the long-running Snorkel brand and bringing back a lot of people to work in a small community that didn't have a lot of other employment options.
My bet is that if Frank read this he would tell me I'm giving him way too much credit and that he was just in it because he had to do something for a living, right? Say whatever you want, Frank. A lot of people remember you and will miss your crusty candid New York voice, and the fact you'd go a long way to make sure your customers were taken care of properly.
They broke the mold when they made this guy and a lot of people will miss him.
I found the news intriguing that Hertz acquired 1st Call Studio Rentals (see story, page 13), which grew out of the original NES Studio Rentals. The guy that made NES Studio Rentals tick was Lance Sorenson, who has since gone on to form 24/7 Studio Rentals. The entertainment industry is obviously an attractive area — not because you're going to get to walk arm in arm down a red carpet with Scarlett Johansson but because it's a huge industry with a lot of opportunities for equipment rental. To be successful in studio rental work involves tailoring the business to meet the unique requirements of film production.
If you haven't already read it, I recommend our cover story on 24/7 in the January 2007 issue — you can read it online at http://rermag.com/mag/equipment_kings_hollywood if you don't happen to have that issue on your shelf. It gives you an idea of what it means to address the unique needs of the film and TV production industry, and the extraordinary effort Sorenson has been putting into it for more than 20 years.
It will be interesting to see what Hertz does in this area, especially now that film and TV production is spreading out to so many different geographic regions. I'm also intrigued by the way Hertz has been developing the synergies between car and equipment rental, and that will be interesting to watch in the future.