Two long-time leaders to be inducted into Rental Hall of Fame
Two long-time rental industry veterans were selected by the American Rental Association as the newest inductees into the Rental Hall of Fame. Robert C. Elmen of Sioux Falls, S.D., and Paul M. Coogan of Peoria, Ill., will be formally inducted during the keynote session on Feb. 11 at The Rental Show in Las Vegas.
The American Rental Association (ARA) 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. The induction ceremony is held during the keynote session at The Rental Show.
Robert C. Elmen
Robert Elmen is the owner of Elmen Enterprises and has been active in the rental industry for 49 years. His entire entrepreneurship can be seen in his leadership, industry commitment, and impact, ingenuity and his personal commitment to his community and the equipment rental industry.
Elmen’s leadership has been demonstrated by the achievements and successes of his business ventures, as he believes in giving people the information, opportunity, and platform from which to make choices that challenge themselves and their staff within individual businesses. He’s been responsible for 53 general rental stores, a rental software firm, and rent-to-own and mini storage businesses, plus had a television station interest and substantial property management initiatives. He created and operated all of this with a central office staff of eight located in Sioux Falls. He had a thin, flat management system that utilized field managers to make major decisions regarding their individual markets, stores, staff, and future with operations in 11 different states.
Elmen’s impact on the rental industry can be seen through 40-plus years managing rental stores, where he grew his firm to become the largest privately owned general rental company in the United States. He helped build the original United Rental franchise as well as the Nationwide trailer system. His impact additionally was felt with the designing and building of a rental computer software system for his stores, which he then shared with the industry. He also trained hundreds of managers who found careers in the rental industry.
It was ingenuity and foresight that drove Elmen’s business growth. He was able to foresee the impact of computers and installed IBM computer/cash registers in all his stores by 1977. He used his own rental stores to develop R.E.N.T.S. software for rental stores and offered it nationwide, resulting in 250 user stores. He developed Mail Order USA, which was a time-use versus time-out rental program for rural markets, as well as the flex rate program that automatically changed rental rates based on time and availability.
In addition to his businesses he wrote “Some Operational Aspects of the General Rental Industry” in 1966 in addition to articles for Rental Age and Rental Management magazines. He was recognized the “50 National Rental Leaders” list in 1963, was ARA Meritorious Service Award recipient in 1970, ARA Distinguished Service Award recipient in 1974, and ARA Region Six Person of the Year in 1990.
In 1999, he sold his rental stores to United Rentals. He currently is the owner of Mason City Rent All in Mason City, Iowa, and does contract bookkeeping for rental firms in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota.
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