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Don Ahern

by Connie Lannan

Ahern Rentals was founded in 1953 by Don Ahern’s father and was originally located where the STRAT Hotel, Casino & Skypod (formerly the Stratosphere) now stands on the Las Vegas Strip.

Ahern began working for his father at Ahern Renter’s Center in the 1970s. Venturing out on his own in 1978 with a fleet of three scissor lifts, he relocated and founded Los Arcos Equipment, which expanded across Southern Nevada and Southern California by 1983.

In 1990, Ahern purchased the business from his father and combined both businesses into Ahern Rentals in 1997.

During the deep recession between 2007 and 2009, Ahern found a way to achieve growth for his business. As much of the construction in Las Vegas came to a halt, he redeployed his fleet out of the city and into new markets which led to the expansion of 30 branch locations in 30 months.

Along with the growth came some challenges. In late 2011, Ahern voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to reorganize debt. New markets in the southern and eastern parts of the U.S. where fleet utilization was higher and generated revenue that enabled him to repay all creditors and exit Chapter 11 by mid-2013.

Ahern also applied his rental business knowledge into manufacturing. Inspired to produce his own reliable telehandler, he purchased Western Attachment Co. in 1999, specializing in rough-terrain vertical mast forklifts. To design all-new telehandlers to his specifications, Ahern founded Fresno Engineering Group in 2001. Less than two years later, the company would be renamed to Xtreme Manufacturing™. Today, as the owner of Xtreme Manufacturing, Ahern also holds a majority stake in Snorkel™.

He was pleasantly surprised when he learned that he would be inducted into the Rental Hall of Fame.

“I am looking forward to the ceremony, especially as it will be in my home city of Las Vegas and I can share it with colleagues, family and friends,” Ahern says.

“I take the greatest pride in being able to continue my father’s dream that he started in 1953, when he entered the rental business. I am also very proud of how we have been able to grow from being a local rental business, to regional, and now national, with a footprint of more than 125 branch locations across the U.S.,” Ahern says.

“What makes me proud every day is to see our incredible team of employees continue to grow in a way which enables their individual families to prosper, with access to health care and retirement programs. Seeing the personal growth and advancement of thousands of employees, many of whom have progressed within the company, this is something very special and certainly something to be proud of,” he says.

From the start, Ahern has personally invested in his company, successfully growing a small fleet into a leading rental company in the U.S. that remains privately owned, having prevailed over two hostile takeover attempts.

For the future, Ahern hopes the rental industry will “settle down” and “adopt more professional best practices based upon return on investment for the good of our customers and our employees and ultimately the rental industry as a whole.”