Jim Mathers, one of the equipment rental industry’s most creative and charismatic sales leaders, has died after battling cancer for several years, Fred Daniels III, president and CEO of Ames Taping Tools told RER. He died last Friday evening in his home town of Hudson, Ohio.

Mathers had a career of more than 35 years in the construction and rental industries. He first came to the attention of RER as president of Phillips/Day & Maddock where he ran the company’s rental division. Under Mathers’ leadership PD&M became one of the leading players in the Cleveland rental market, where the company differentiated itself by painting its equipment black and having its staff dress in black when they visited jobsites. The Phillips staff also, on a regular basis, brought lunch to its customers on their jobsites. Mathers knew that such attention-getting techniques meant nothing if the company didn’t back it up with service, which he strived relentlessly to improve.

While with Phillips, Mather would inspire his sales staff by coming up with slogans to define years and other themes. An avid reader of business books, Mathers would frequently incorporate new ideas and techniques.

When Hertz Equipment Rental Corp. acquired Phillips in 1998, Mathers joined HERC as director of strategic field sales development.  

Mathers left HERC during the recession of the late 2000s and joined United Rentals, where he developed field sales training programs and sales coaching. He later became vice president of sales at Ames Taping Tools in August of 2013.

“Jim was an inspirational sales leader in the industry for over 30 years,” said Daniels. “He influenced and helped to shape many people’s careers in the rental industry: Norty Turner at Riwal, Billy Stec at Herc Rentals, Bryan Kiser at H&E, Joe Dixon at United Rentals to name just a few, and most certainly me! Jim was a great friend and a super guy. He will be missed tremendously.

“Jim started with us at Ames Taping Tools in August of 2013 as VP of sales. He had an immediate impact on helping to shape our culture and our business strategy. Jim was instrumental in developing our sales information system, implementing a national accounts program, developing special rental programs for long-term rentals, implementing a merchandise pricing strategy as well as many other customer-focused initiatives.

“I first met Jim in 1998 when he was president of Phillips/Day & Maddock in Cleveland. I was at HERC and we acquired PDM. I was sent to pick Jim up at Newark airport as he was coming to our Park Ridge, N.J., headquarters for the first time. The only thing I knew about Jim was what I read in RER and that he was our new director of strategic sales. We had an instant connection. I was drawn to his passion and uniqueness. He wasn’t really a rules follower, which was in sharp contrast to many of the ways we operated at the time. Jim’s key phrase was ‘Expect to Win.’ He had coins made for all of his ‘followers’ at HERC with that saying. I still carry mine with me. As sales force automation became the next wave of technology, Jim and I worked together to drive a solution, spending a lot of time together. After I came to Ames at the end of 2012, I knew we needed a sales leader. Jim was my obvious choice.”

Mathers had a long period of remission from cancer until recently. He is survived by his wife Cheryl, three children, and several grandchildren.