The American Rental Association last week announced the newest inductees into the Rental Hall of Fame. Bill Begley, Tom Hawthorne and the late James Keenan will be formally inducted during the keynote session on Feb. 12, 2008, at The Rental Show in Las Vegas.
Hawthorne's career began in 1950 when he joined his father at Los Angeles Tractor and Equipment Co., a construction equipment rental and sales business. In 1956, the company was awarded the Caterpillar dealership in San Diego and became Hawthorne Machinery Co. The company continued to be a major player in rentals, and served as a model and inspiration not only to a later generation of Caterpillar dealers who decided to enter the rent-to-rent field, but also to Caterpillar’s management as the company elected to enter the rental business as a corporate strategy. Hawthorne is chairman of the board for Hawthorne Machinery Co. and oversees its eight divisions. Each division provides specialized services to customers working in a wide variety of fields.
The late Keenan was chairman of the board for Keenan's Rental Service in Omaha, Neb., from 1959 to 2000. He was both influential and instrumental in the formation of today's ARA. During the two years before Keenan became ARA president in 1973, he visited rental businesses in 45 states and several Canadian provinces as a way to recruit new members and promote what became the focus of his presidency: image. That included the rental service image, inventory image and public image, and it led to the creation of what was then called the ARA President's Image Building Award program. These awards were introduced in December 1973 to honor members who built a new store or remodeled an existing one. Now known as the President's Image awards, they are still presented today. Keenan passed away in 2004 at age 93.
Begley began his rental industry career in 1963 when he purchased his first store in Dublin, Ireland, with Alan Pilkington. They developed a strong reputation for their business, so much that the company, Hire-All, became synonymous with quality service around Ireland. The original business offered tools and equipment for rent until a trip to The Rental Show convinced them to convert the business to party/catering and leisure. The business, Hire-All Event and Party, is currently the largest operation of catering and leisure in Ireland.
The American Rental Association created the Rental Hall of Fame in 2000 to foster an appreciation of the historical development of the rental industry and the leaders who have made the industry what it is today. Each year, nominations are accepted to recognize individuals who have made a substantial impact on the industry at the national and/or international level.