Popular rental industry veteran Larry Pedersen, CEO of Campbell, Calif.-based A Tool Shed, died last week at the age of 67. Pedersen died of an apparent pulmonary embolism, six weeks after a successful colon cancer operation.
Born in Wisconsin, Pedersen moved to Eureka, Calif., and grew up around the rough-and-tumble timber industry, where his father worked as a driver. After losing everything in a flood, his family moved to San Jose. Pedersen attended San Jose City College after serving in the army.
After marrying, Pedersen went to work for his father-in-law Bob McArdell, who owned a small rental center in Cupertino, Calif., that he started in 1945. When McArdell died in 1964, Pedersen took over A Tool Shed Equipment Rentals, eventually building the company into a multi-branch, RER 100 rental company, serving the San Francisco Bay area and surrounding points.
Pedersen’s three sons, Robert, Eric and Lars all work for A Tool Shed in various capacities.
Pedersen is past president and chairman of the board of the California Rental Association, and has served on numerous committees in the rental industry, including the American Rental Association’s Legislative committee. Among the many honors Pedersen received was the James Gartland Award, named for RER’s founder and presented annually to a CRA member as “rental person of the year.”
Pedersen was as active in his community as he was in the rental industry, and in 1992 was named Campbell, Calif., Citizen of the Year for his community work and charitable contributions, including donating equipment to just about every organization in the community when called upon as well as sponsoring dozens of youth sports teams.
Pedersen was an active member of dozens of organizations, including the Kiwanis Club of Campbell (distinguished past president); advisor to the Westmont Key Club; spearhead of the Ainsley House relocation project; Boy Scouts of America character award recipient and Silver Beaver Award; Campbell Veterans’ Memorial Board of Directors; the Los Gatos Masonic Lodge, the Shriners’ Hospital; the San Jose Scottish Rite Language Clinic; Rainbow Girls advisor; Republican Party National Committee member; legislative committee with Congressman Norman Mineta and Mike Honda; Tuolumne county Deputy Sheriff; board of directors Campbell Historical Museum; president of the Billy Jones “Wildcat” Railroad Association; contributor to American Musical Theater San Jose; San Jose Stage; Campbell Heritage Theater; Habitat for Humanity; Santa Cruz Mountains Highland 4-H Leader; and dozens more.
Pedersen was an avid historian and an expert on the Civil War. He was extremely fond of animals and had many in his life. An adventurous traveler, Pedersen has, according to son Robert, visited just about every country on the planet, with the exception of Antarctica. Known for generosity and philanthropy, the Pedersen household has included Naveen Chaudhary, a student from Nepal who Pedersen brought to the United States and put through college. As Robert explained, “he is our pseudo-adopted brother.”
Pedersen is survived by his wife Bonnie, sons Robert, Eric and Lars, and seven grandchildren.