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Campbell and Chapin to be inducted into the Rental Hall of Fame

By Connie Lannan and Brock Huffstutler

January 2, 2024

Two longtime rental veterans — Bruce Campbell, an equipment rental industry veteran in Fort Wayne, Ind., who was a key player in launching the rental program for Do it Best Corp., and the late Jay D. Chapin of Springfield, Mass., who served as past president and co-founder of Taylor Rental Corp. — will be inducted into the Rental Hall of Fame at the ARA Industry Awards Lunch, to be held Feb. 18 during The ARA Show™ 2024 in New Orleans. The lunch is sponsored by Ditch Witch, SANY America and Trime US.

“The Rental Hall of Fame is the American Rental Association’s (ARA) most prestigious award. This year, we recognize two individuals whose contributions made a significant impact on growing the equipment and event rental industry. Their dedication has been felt across the rental community and we look forward to bestowing them with the rental industry’s highest honor,” says Tony Conant, ARA CEO.

When Campbell was told he would be a recipient of this award, he was totally surprised and humbled. “My honest response was that I am not deserving of this,” he says. “No way did I think that someday I would achieve this highest goal. I am humbled and so appreciative of this honor. I was just being me. I didn’t do anything special.”

According to Campbell, “30 years ago, after 25 years of me being in rental, the Do it Best Corp. handed me on a silver platter the opportunity to go out and bring in new rental centers and teach them to rent the way I did when I was in business, which allowed me to retire when I was 41 years old. I just happened to be put in a position that allowed me, at someone else’s expense, to go
out and serve the industry I love.”

Chapin’s eldest daughter, Debra Ross, had a similar reaction when she learned her father would be honored posthumously.

“Our family is so honored and so blessed. Dad was such a humble man and never tooted his own horn. I know he would have been very appreciative,” she says.

Growing up, she remembers so many nights when he would come home, have dinner with the family and then go back to the office. “That was the standard. He was a very hardworking, giving and generous man,” she says, adding that, in essence, “Taylor Rental was a family business. He treated all his employees as if they were family. He cared deeply for them, and building that business was his whole life.”

See why these esteemed rental operators have been chosen to receive this award:

Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell, driver of Do it Best Corp.’s thrust into the rental arena

Campbell began his career in 1968 in Fort Wayne, Ind., as an employee of an independent rental store. In 1974 he relocated to the Cincinnati area. Then in 1984, he founded L&B Equipment Rental in Harrison, Ohio.

As a rental operator, Campbell served a term as vice president of the ARA of Ohio and two terms as president of the Greater Cincinnati Tool Rental Association. In 1989, he earned an ARA President’s Image Award for L&B Equipment Rental. Campbell sold his rental business in 1992, retired and became a rental consultant.

Campbell helped rental software provider JK Data Systems, Tampa, Fla., develop and enhance its features in a rental software enhancement.

During the early 1990s, he wrote a monthly column for Rental Management magazine titled “Discovering Rental.”

In 1994, Campbell was instrumental in launching a rental program for Do it Best Corp., then known as HWI (Hardware Wholesalers Inc.). Do it Best Corp., a cooperative that supplies products and services to independent
hardware, lumber, and home improvement retailers, was looking for an expert with rental knowledge to help develop the program. Campbell contributed his consulting services to the initiative and helped many Do it Best Corp. members become successful rental operators.

Campbell helped create the Do it Best Rental School — a member education event through which he provided extensive knowledge of equipment, procedures, safety, the latest trends and strong financial knowledge. Through this program, Campbell aimed to instill high standards and the importance of product quality, inventory and customer service.

Over the years, Campbell has worked continuously to enhance the Do it Best Rental School’s curriculum and offerings. Along the way, he has served as an invaluable resource for learning all aspects of the rental industry by program members across the U.S. and abroad.

Campbell has hosted on-site tailored training days each year to help Do it Best Corp. members fine-tune their businesses and boost profits. He has visited members’ stores domestically and internationally to champion the benefits that rental provides, and during the pandemic he adapted his curriculum to serve more than 50 members by holding two virtual Rental Schools. He remains available 365 days a year to answer questions or offer advice in times of crisis to Do it Best Corp. program members.

Campbell also strongly advocates for his Do it Best Rental School students to become active in ARA both locally and nationally.

Jay D. Chapin

The late Jay D. Chapin, innovator, who served as past president and cofounder of Taylor Rental Corp.

Chapin began working at Dealer Supply Co. in 1959, the same year that organization put together the first Taylor Rental franchise. He became vice president of Dealer Supply Co. in 1963.

Chapin was named company president in 1971, and in 1972 Dealer Supply Co. became Taylor Rental Corp. Seven years later, there were 626 Taylor Rental Centers (TRCs) in full operation in 49 states around the U.S. As president of the organization, Chapin helped family-owned, small business entrepreneurs prosper by backing them with the knowledge, experience and opportunities a major corporation could provide.

Under Chapin’s leadership, Taylor Rental Corp. was at the forefront when digital information was in its infancy in the rental industry. In the late 1970s, he introduced TOPIC — the TRC equivalent of Taylor Rental Corp.’s proprietary point-of-sale computer system, CompuRent. In 1982, he made CompuRent available to independent rental outlets.

During his career, Chapin developed many products, programs  and services that enabled TRC franchises to grow and expand the rental concept in communities throughout the U.S. He instituted a team of business management consultants to provide on-site guidance and support to franchisees, developed private-label products to enhance brand recognition, created in-store designs and signage, built a 100,000-sq.-ft. warehouse to allow for faster delivery of products to franchisees and instituted national advertising programs.

Chapin also encouraged TRC members’ involvement in ARA.