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Watts to retire from Sunstate

Mike Watts, founder and executive chairman of Sunstate Equipment has announced that he will retire from the company next month after 40 years.

His son Chris Watts will take over from him in his role as chief executive, a post he has held since late 2015. At the same time Sumitomo which currently owns an 80 percent stake in the business, will acquire the remaining 20 percent, giving it full ownership. Watts senior will stay on as an advisor to the board.
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Chris Watts

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Mike Watts

Watts started his rental career in 1970 with Apache Equipment in Phoenix and then in 1977 he decided to go into business for himself and acquired Beldon Rentals with the support of its previous owners. A year later he rebranded the business as Sunstate, and having started with just four employees, gradually expanded the business to 61 outlets across California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee, becoming one of the largest rental companies in North America.

While the company now offers a wide range of equipment, aerial lifts and telehandlers have always played a significant factor in the business with a fleet currently estimated at around 15,000 aerial lifts and 3,000 telehandlers. Sumitomo acquired a majority stake in the business in 2009, increasing it to 80 percent in 2013.
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1977 Mike Watts acquires Beldon Rentals in Phoenix

Watts, 68, said: “After 47 years in the rental industry, starting Sunstate and building it over the past 40 years, I feel very comfortable and satisfied with our position in the industry, the calibre of business we have built, and the opportunities for the future. I am proud of our success and the strong positive culture we have developed, which is creating an environment that allowed people to feel they were valued, provided opportunities for growth, and held everyone accountable to the consistent standards we created. The belief remains the same, that when we do this, people enjoy coming to work each day and make small improvements so we can continue to build a great business. I am especially pleased that my son, Chris Watts, will have the opportunity with his ability to take Sunstate to an even higher level.”


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