Canadian Rental Service

Two long-time leaders to be inducted into Rental Hall of Fame

By American Rental Association   

Canadian Rental Association

Oct. 31, 2012 – 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.

Oct. 31, 2012 – 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.


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. The induction ceremony is held
during the keynote session at The Rental Show.


Robert C. Elmen

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.


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
. 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.


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
U.S. 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.


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.


Elmen is
committed to his community, as well as a U.S. Navy veteran. He is involved in
his church and civic and community organizations, including
Augustana College, Sioux Falls. He also an Augustana College Fellow.


Paul M. Coogan

Coogan was the past president and CEO of Aggregate Equipment and Supply in
Peoria, Ill., from 1958-1989. He is currently retired. Coogan
started his rental company from scratch and grew it into a multi-state,
multi-million dollar company with more than 12 branches in just a few years. He
exemplifies integrity and drive and strives to be the best of the best in all
he does.


leadership can be described as forward-leaning, which is demonstrated in his
desire to embrace change and continuous improvement of the individual and the
rental industry. He sought out ways to diversify Aggregate Equipment and Supply
by looking for diverse employee candidates to nurture. He developed a formal
manager trainee program for his new employees referred to as “
Coogan College” that was an intensive week-long program covering all
aspects of the rental business. In addition, he encouraged employees to
continue their educations by providing reimbursement for business-related
course work. This allowed him to have and grow an educated and loyal managerial


president of the American Rental Association in 1985, Coogan was an outspoken
proponent of the rental industry and made it a point to help others expand
their operations successfully as he himself had done. During his term, he and
his fellow directors put into place management procedures for continued growth
of the industry and ARA. He strengthened ARA’s structure and program management
to help point the way for the association’s continued success. 


ingenuity helped propel not only Aggregate Equipment but also the entire
industry as a whole by thinking “outside the box.” Multiple stores and multiple
state locations became a key to increasing equipment utilization. Marketing on
a progressive scale was another of his beliefs.


The “one-stop
shop” concept was another innovation of his that helped propel Aggregate and
other rental stores to a higher level of profitability. The idea to build or
erect one-source jobsite rental stores on or as near as possible to new
building projects was part of his “mega project concept” that was incorporated
by other rental businesses. 


He also
developed a plant shutdown and turnaround specialization idea that became very
profitable for Aggregate and others. Coogan developed the idea of specialists
versus generalists for both the rental and sales sides of the business. This
concept showed that a rental store operation could compete with the very
specialized stand-alone companies. In addition, safety and risk management were
always at the top of mind in any business operation.


helped fund scholarships at the business
school of Bradley University in Peoria and sponsored several of Bradley’s marketing students
for internships.  He believed in
promoting from within and the use of incentives for his employees.


personal commitment to the industry is evident in the work he did while on the
board of ARA as well as through Aggregate Equipment and Supply. His personal
commitment to his community was done in quiet ways through leadership roles, service
and without fanfare. He served on the
Illinois Central College board of trustees, as well as local community and civic organizations
and his church.


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