Three rental leaders that span the 50-plus years of the industry were selected by the American Rental Association (ARA) as the newest inductees for the Rental Hall of Fame. The late Thomas “Mitch” Hoxie, Bradley Jacobs and the late Hal Plugge Jr. were formally inducted during a keynote session ceremony at The Rental Show on March 3.
Thomas M. (Mitch) Hoxie: Mitch Hoxie was one of the rental industry’s early and influential pioneers. In 1946 he and his family moved to Tucson, Ariz., where he started the city’s first rental business in 1947. It began after neighbors frequently wanted to borrow the extensive supply of equipment he acquired working as a contractor. Hoxie eventually put up a “for rent” sign. As the demand continued to grow, he purchased an old gas station to house the business, which he named Arizona Equipment Rental Co. The name was later shortened to Aero Rental and Hoxie opened four additional operations, one of the first rental companies to have multiple locations.
Hoxie also was one of the first to join ARA, then called the American Associated Rental Operators, during the 1957 convention in Omaha, Neb. When it was discovered he’d owned a rental business longer than anyone else at the convention, he was placed on the program so other attendees could learn from his experiences. That was the start of his association involvement, as he was elected to the board of directors in 1959 and appointed executive vice president for 1961-1962. He served on a variety of ARA committees, helped establish the awards committee in 1962 and wrote numerous articles for Rental Age (now Rental Management). He was honored as Rental Man of the Year in 1964 and received ARA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1968. He was the first director at large on the ARA board when that position was created in 1975 to represent the association’s past officers and directors.
In the early 1970’s, Hoxie organized the Tucson Equipment Rental Association and served as its first president. He retired from Aero Rentals in the early 1980s.
Mitch Hoxie passed away in 1984.
Bradley S. Jacobs: Jacobs was not a rental industry insider when he decided to invest his money, energy and expertise in co-founding United Rentals in 1997. He looked at the industry from a fresh perspective, having founded and served as chairman/CEO of United Waste Systems, and saw rental as a solid industry with a promising future. What began as a concept around his dining room table quickly evolved.
United Rentals became a publicly traded company four months after its founding, and it grew by acquiring more than 250 rental companies. United became the North American rental industry leader in just 13 months and today is the largest rental equipment company in the world with more than 700 locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Jacobs also was successful in attracting tens of billions of dollars in capital to the rental industry, fueling enormous expansion, along with increased customer, supplier and employee-based growth.
Jacobs was responsible for the strategic direction of the company and oversaw all operations including planning and analysis, sales and marketing, business development, national accounts, human resources, risk management, information technology and corporate communications. He served as chairman of United Rentals until August 2007.
Harold (Hal) Taylor Plugge Jr.: The late Hal Plugge Jr. had a vision to start a national chain of franchised rental stores. He began working in the purchasing department of his father’s hardware wholesale company, Dealer Supply, in 1958. During the next year, Plugge anticipated the trend toward rental and developed the idea of a tool rental program for hardware and lumber dealers.
After four years of research, the first tool rental program for the company was introduced in 1962. It met with immediate success and the following year, the Taylor Rental Program (after Plugge and his father’s middle name) was offered to Dealer Supply accounts. The business was expanded and, in 1963, offered on a franchise basis. The first full-line Taylor Rental Center opened in Rutland, Vt., in June 1963.
Plugge’s vision of how a franchise should operate was the key for many operations to get started in the rental industry. Taylor Rental Centers offered financing, location selection assistance, a comprehensive inventory with maintenance services, in-depth training, insurance packages, computer programs, advertising and public relations services, fixtures and displays, and experienced teams of employees who would help new owners set up stores and procedures.
Plugge’s love for rental continued throughout his career. From his early position in purchasing to ultimately serving as chairman of the board, he watched the company grow to its peak of 620 stores in 49 states in 1980. Taylor Rental Corp. became a publicly traded company in 1972. It was merged with Stanley Works in 1983.
Plugge retired due to health reasons in 1982 and passed away in 1993.
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 or international level. These three newest inductees bring the total in the Rental Hall of Fame to 29.
For more information, visit www.ARArental.org.
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