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A Brief History of Rental

wynne history of equipment rental 1

The rental all business reportedly got its start in the west coast of the U.S. shortly after World War Two. Southern California was credited with being the birthplace and breeding grounds of this new industry.

Mom-and-pop rental shops sprang up that rented anything from party goods, to renting construction equipment, to farm machine rentals. The business was described as one of the most vigorously growing of all service industries and made up of small, dynamic businessmen.

By 1958 the business had grown substantially from a few scattered rental shops in California to 5,200 rental stores across the U.S. with a volume of $325 Million. The growth was attributed to a rise in home ownership, popularity of the do-it-yourself attitude, and the increase in leisure time. Workers enjoyed 37 ½ hour work weeks so there was more time for projects.

At the time, the estimated cost for a graduation party for 50 – including supplying chairs, banquet tables, a bar, linens, china, glassware, silverware, champagne fountain urns and incidentals cost under $200. A power rake went for $19 a day, a floor sander for $9, and a “big diesel crawler” (which cost about $5000) was rented for $2 an hour plus fuel.

Contrast that to the business today. In two large rental regions, the U.S. and Europe, the market has grown considerably. The U.S. equipment rental size is forecasted to be $35 Billion in 2015, while the ERA reported $22 Billion Euros in the European countries for 2013. The industry continues to grow in established regions and will no doubt grow in newer emerging regions around the globe.

Renting continues to be a sensible alternative to buying and a growing business for rental professionals. We predict continued growth of the industry and expect revenues over $100 Billion in US and Europe in the next 10 years. We also expect the continued consolidation of firms and to see businesses with more than 1500 locations. The future looks bright for the rental industry.

Enjoy this infographic on the growth of the rental industry.


Equipment Rental Business Grows into Major Industry, The Maryville Daily Forum, AP Business Analyst John Cunniff, 1969
Business Mirror: Rental Business for Little Man, The Corpus Christi Caller, John Cunniff, 1969
Every Day More Persons are Renting More Things, Sun Telegram San Bernardino, Ross Haynes 1963
European Equipment Rental Industry 2014 report, ERA 2014
US Census, 2002 Economic Census
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