Don Ahern among ARA’s latest Hall of Fame inductees
By Jenny LescohierDecember 07, 2020
The American Rental Association (ARA) announced its latest inductees to the Rental Hall of Fame, including industry veteran Don Ahern, founder of Ahern Rentals and majority owner of Snorkel, and Michael Kneeland, retired CEO of United Rentals.
The Rental Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made a significant impact on the equipment and event rental industry at the national or international level. This year’s inductees will be recognized at The ARA Show 2021 in Las Vegas.
The five inductees this year include previously mentioned Ahern and Kneeland, as well as Edward Latek, Timothy Maloney Sr., CERP, and John ‘Jack’ Shea.
Don Ahern entered the rental industry in the 1970s when he went to work for his father, who founded Las Vegas-based Ahern Rentals in 1953. Venturing out on his own in 1978 with a fleet of three scissor lifts, Don relocated and founded Los Arcos Equipment which expanded across Southern Nevada and Southern California by 1983. In 1990, Don purchased the business from his father and combined both businesses into one – Ahern Rentals – in 1997.
During the recession between 2007 and 2009, as much of the construction in Las Vegas came to a halt, Ahern redeployed his fleet into new markets which led to the expansion of 30 branch locations in 30 months.
Ahern got into manufacturing with the purchase of Western Attachment Co. in 1999, specializing in rough-terrain vertical mast forklifts. To design all-new telehandlers to his specifications, Ahern founded Fresno Engineering Group in 2001. Less than two years later, the company would be renamed to Xtreme Manufacturing. Today, as the owner of Xtreme Manufacturing, Ahern also holds a majority stake in aerial lift manufacturer Snorkel.
Michael Kneeland became CEO of United Rentals in 2008, but his career in rental started in sales for Free State Industries, an aerial equipment company. Kneeland’s perseverance led him to become the president of Free State, eventually negotiating its sale to Equipment Supply Company in 1996. In 1998, United Rentals acquired Equipment Supply Company and Kneeland assumed a senior management role, and later became the third CEO in the history of United Rentals.
In 2010, United Rentals implemented digital customer scorecards to track branch, district, and company-wide performance in key areas. Kneeland is also an advocate of helping military veterans transition into civilian jobs. His efforts also include supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives for the company, having developed three multicultural employee resources groups: Women United, Veterans United, and Together United. On three separate occasions, United Rentals awarded shares of company stock to almost all employees – most recently awarding approximately 18,000 frontline employees who are providing essential services during the pandemic.
Kneeland retired from his role as CEO in 2019, but he continues to serve as chair of the board of United Rentals, chair of Maxim Crane and serves on other company boards.
Edward Latek joined his family’s tool rental business in the south suburbs of Chicago in 1963, using it as a base from which he built Latek Rental Co. into a multi-location construction equipment rental business. He later began the development of Reli Financial Corp., a rental-specific commercial finance company in the early 1970s. After experiencing accelerated growth, Reli underwent consolidation during the mid-1980s and Latek sold the company to a life insurance company in 1986.
Following his retirement from Reli, Latek founded Latek Capital Corporation in the 1990s. The company’s goal was to provide professional mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, advisory and valuation services to small and mid-size equipment rental and rental-related firms.
Tim Maloney Sr. began his career in rental in 1977 when he joined his father who had owned a Taylor Rental franchise since 1972. In 1979, the business was one of the first to computerize their operations when they purchased a system from a company that is now known as Alert Management Systems, formerly IMS. In 1985, Maloney and his father purchased the rental inventory of Canton Chair & Table Co. in Canton, OH and started a separate party rental store called Canton Chair Rental, which Maloney managed.
Since joining ARA, Maloney has been an active volunteer member having served at the local, state, and national level. His service started on the Northeast Ohio Rental Association board to help rental operators across the state of Ohio. He then went on and played a critical role in founding ARA of Ohio, and in 1993, he began to serve ARA at the national level.
John ‘Jack’ Shea Jr. helped transform the industry through computerization. Prior to founding Solutions by Computer (SBC) in 1982, Shea was responsible for the operations of the company-owned stores of Taylor Rental. He pioneered the use of computerization in managing a rental store and its assets, bringing technology to these stores as well as 625 franchised Taylor Rental Centers.
Shea was met with skepticism and resistance from rental operators early on, but he fostered early adopters of his systems and then engaged them to help steer future software development efforts. He was one of the first people in the rental industry to talk about the importance of realizing returns above the cost of capital and documenting the financial performance of rental assets.
Solutions by Computer was acquired by Constellation Software in 2008, and in 2015 the company joined forces with a portion of Wynne Systems, also owned by Constellation, to form InTempo Software.