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Atlantic reflections: How it was

I became a member of the Atlantic local of the rental association in 1982, one year into my new career of running a rep agency.


March 28, 2013
By Garth Scott

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I became a member of the Atlantic local of the rental association in 1982, one year into my new career of running a rep agency. A lot has changed since then, so I would like to make mention of several of the business owners and/or managers in our region, going back to the 1960s and on up through to present times.  Most of these, if not all, could be people and or businesses you are familiar with or may have heard tell of.

The two main pioneers would probably be Bob MacFarland of MacFarland Rentals in the Halifax area in 1963, with Garnet Butler being one of his early managers.  They were eventually sold out to Roy Langille.   And in New Brunswick would be Danny Cameron and his nephew Glen Cameron with Atlantic Rentals beginning in 1960 out of Fredericton. At one time, between rentals and rental products, they grew to 28 locations (23 rentals and five trucks). Eventually, Atlantic Rentals was sold to the Barrett organization in 1990 and from there bought out by United Rentals in 2006.

In Newfoundland, an influential early shop would be Complete Rentals in St. John’s under the ownership of Bill Campbell in 1964. It was eventually bought out by Cat Rentals and is called Battlefield Rentals throughout Newfoundland today. Hiscock Rentals and Sales in St. John’s, was an important one in 1966, owned by John Hiscock and run recently his son Craig. In P.E.I., Barry Balderston and his manager Elwin Herlihy were one of the first in Charlottetown with Island Rentals.

I can’t mention noteworthy shops in Atlantic Canada without naming Miller Equipment Rentals in Sydney, N.S., started by Dusty (Fred) Miller with his sons Wayne and Ken as managers. Also in Nova Scotia was Weir Rentals in Truro, owned by Winston Weir in 1973. Central Rentals was another one in Truro, owned by Ron MacDonald with Perry Brightman as manager and opening in 1978. Lloyd Galbraith opened Ready Rentals in 1972 in Saint John, N.B., with his manager, Jim Butler, and Miramichi, N.B., was the home of Ace Leasing and its founder, Jim Taylor, in 1974. Those were some of the active members of the Atlantic rental community, though there are many others I could mention and will in the future.

The Rental Association you are familiar with in Atlantic Canada goes back to around 1966. Its earlier years of organization were mostly related to social events with different areas as gathering locations, often in Halifax and Charlottetown. Eventually, as the industry in this region grew, get-togethers and then shows of different dimensions have taken place in Charlottetown, Dartmouth, Truro and Moncton.

Our shows have gone from table top to small equipment to table top to small equipment from the mid-1980s until the present. There was a great surge of new rental houses opening in the early 1980s and that growth continued until the mid-1990s. As many as seven or eight a year were opening for several years in that span. Between the independents and the national originals we reached in excess of 100 locations throughout Atlantic Canada. However, with the constant buy-outs between the mid ’90s and the early 2000s, the total number has shrunk a bit. We still have some growth by the independents.

Several of our rental houses have within or adjacent to them party and banquet rentals, in some cases nearly as large as the equipment-rental side.

Garth Scott has served the rental industry in Atlantic Canada since 1960, first in roles with Wm. Stairs and Son, Sumner and T.P. Calkin, then as an independent sales representative since 1981. He is now in semi-retirement in Hantsport, N.S., with his wife, Sharon, having turned over the reins of Scott Sales and Marketing to his son, Kevin, and daughter, Kelly.


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