Mike Watts, chairman of Sunstate Equipment, one of the rental industry’s largest independent rental companies, and the late Bill Bourque, a major executive of Taylor Rental Corp. and Grand Rental Station, will be inducted into the American Rental Association Hall of Fame at The Rental Show in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 8.
Watts entered the rental industry in 1970 as a sales rep for Apache Rentals in Phoenix. In 1977, in the middle of a recession, Watts acquired a single-location rental center Belden Rentals in Phoenix, which became Sunstate Equipment. Watts grew Sunstate from one location to 54 locations in eight states, now No. 12 on the RER 100.
ARA credits Watts for reflecting the entrepreneurial spirit of the rental industry, as an owner who began as a small independent rental operator who has maintained that independent spirit and work ethic through the growth of the company.
“Through the foundation of innovative management, financing, technology and marketing techniques, Watts identified business opportunities to capitalize upon,” said ARA. “He has been a leader within the local and national rental associations, including at the international level, and in sharing expertise to benefit rental businesses and manufacturers.”
Watts is well recognized for his and his family’s philanthropic contributions.
In a recent interview with RER, Watts told of how, when he was first starting in the rental business, he hired a consultant who urged him to go to jobsites and try to bump off equipment the contractor had rented by offering a cheaper rate. “‘And if you’re not successful with the superintendent, talk to the owner and try to get the guy fired,’ that’s what he told me,” Watts told RER. “That went against everything I believed in. I said, ‘I can’t do that, I don’t believe in that. You have to earn the business.’”
To read more about Watts, check out Feb. 2009 RER’s cover story on Watts and Sunstate Equpment or click on http://rermag.com/business_technology/profiles_interviews/turning-around-rental-equipment-0902/.
Also to be inducted in 2010 will be Wilbert “Bill” Bourque, a pioneer and rental industry leader who was instrumental in helping many people get started in the rental business. He was the former vice president of franchising at Taylor Rental Corp. and later the first general manager of Servistar’s then-new rental program, Grand Rental Station.
Bourque began his career with Taylor Rental in 1967 and his primary responsibility was working with owners on setup and display for new stores. In that capacity, Bourque ultimately worked with more than 650 people entering the rental industry. Bourque attended the ARA convention and many regional shows for more than 20 years. He presented seminars, both as an executive of Taylor Rental Corp. and as a franchise owner, and was the director of Taylor Tech, a training school that included both rental industry training and ARA information for all new rental center owners. Under Bourque’s direction, Taylor Rental Corp. grew to have 620 stores in 49 states by 1980.
Bourque moved to Servistar in 1985, where he facilitated the opening of the first Grand Rental Station operations. He received a President’s Gold Citation for successfully launching the Grand Rental Center program. He retired from Servistar in 1990.
More than 750 entrepreneurs started in the rental business under Bourque’s guidance. Some of those he helped include ARA past president Richard Frechette of Quality Rental Centers, Pawtucket, R.I.; Doug Dartnell, a past ARA regional director from Taylor Rental, Concord, N.H.; Wayne Broadwater, Rental Depot, Manassas, Va.; John Bibbo of Event Source, Cleveland; and Roger Gamache of A&G Associates/Taylor Rental, Leominster, Mass.