US based rental company Maxim Crane Works has appointed Michael Kneeland, chairman of United Rentals, as its chairman.
Kneeland is best known for his time as chief executive of United Rentals - the world’s largest equipment rental company - from August 2008 until May 2019, when he handed over to Matt Flannery - see: new CEO for United Rentals. He remains chairman of the company, giving him the unusual position of chairing both North America’s largest general rental company as its largest crane rental business.
Kneeland joined United when it acquired Equipment Supply Company in 1998. He had previously been president of Free State Industries, remaining on board as general manager of Free State after it was acquired by Equipment Supply Company. In total he has more than 35 years management experience in the equipment rental industry. He has also served as a non-executive director on several company boards, including Brinks Home Security and America Tire Distributors.
Maxim’s current chairman Larry Berg, who will step down but remain on the board as a director, said: “Michael is a well respected leader in the equipment rental industry and an incredibly savvy operator. Maxim will benefit greatly from his experience in navigating growth opportunities in our industry. The rest of the board and I are extremely excited to partner with Michael on this next leg of Maxim’s journey.”
Chief executive Bryan Carlisle, added: “What Michael has accomplished at United Rentals is nothing short of remarkable. He is one of the most experienced leaders in our industry, and I am looking forward to drawing upon his vast wealth of knowledge and best practices as we work together to build upon Maxim’s success.”
Kneeland said: “I am thrilled to join and to chair the Maxim board. Maxim is an extraordinary organisation with exceptionally talented people. As the market leader, Maxim is well suited to capitalise on the significant organic and inorganic growth opportunities ahead of it, with a proven ability to manage customer service and safety at scale. I am excited to partner with Bryan and Larry to help Maxim further its market leadership.”
This a highly unusual situation where the chairman of the country's largest equipment rental company is also appointed as the chairman of the country's largest crane rental corporation. It is probably a good move for both businesses, in that Maxim will be able to gain from Kneeland's huge experience and knowledge on how to expand a major rental company, beyond all previous levels.
Many will ask or wonder, of course, if this move precedes a merger of the two companies, given that while United Rentals has a few cranes, it is not really present in the crane rental market. And moving into the market by adding cranes to the fleet simply would not work, given the substantial difference in how crane rental is operated and managed. Acquiring a major crane rental company that could operate as a stand alone division would though make sense. We may though be adding two and two to get seven.