It’s the ‘Cheers’ of the rental world
By Connie Lannan
November 7, 2023
If there is a rental equivalent to the hit 1980s sitcom “Cheers,” it just might be Reddy Rents in Yuma, Ariz. Since 1959, the Weber family has been running this small rental operation that caters to the construction, homeowner and event rental markets. It’s a place where the owners know everyone’s name when they walk in the door and treat everyone like family — still undertaking some transactions with a handshake.
It all began when Joseph Allen Weber Jr. was managing Newberry, a plumbing and electrical supply house. His customers kept asking where they could get the equipment to install the pipes and other equipment they were purchasing from him. Identifying this as an opportunity, he talked the company into buying backhoes, trenchers and other such equipment.
The idea took off. “It morphed into Reddy Rents, a rental operation that offered everything from those old exercise machines with the belts, backhoes, trenching equipment and loader gannons to compressors and some simple things like that,” says grandson Jeff Weber, who now co-owns the business with his sister, Jennifer Boyer, and mother, Shirley.
Jeff’s grandfather passed away in 1977. “Newberry, which was out of Phoenix, was going to sell the company after my grandfather passed away. They told my dad, Joseph Allen Weber III (Jay), that they were sorry about his father, but they were planning to sell the business. They offered to sell it to my father first. They said if he didn’t want it, they would sell it to someone else. My dad took them up on their offer and bought both companies,” Jeff says.
The sale to Jeff’s parents was completed around 1980. “In 1983, they [his mom and dad] sold the property where they were on Main Street to the Postal Service and moved it to where we are now. They continued the plumbing and electrical supply under the name of Mohawk Wholesale and behind that was Reddy Rents. He bought the two parcels of land that butted up against each other. We had two separate buildings and two separate yards separated by a gate. The theory would be that after customers got their electrical supplies they would go to Reddy Rents for the backhoes and tractors to install the material, etc.,” Jeff says.
They continued to grow their inventory and moved into party rental in 1995 after Shirley was looking through the American Rental Association (ARA) industry magazine, then called Rental Age and now known as Rental Management, and information about the party rental section that was going to be featured at the upcoming ARA convention.
“She thought that since she had been a home-economics teacher all her life, she knew about how to entertain and about parties and making tables look nice. After they went to the convention, they started party rental, which we named Reddy Rents Party Rental, and told my sister, who was an elementary school teacher, that she could learn the party rental part of it and run it, which she did beginning in 1999,” Jeff says.
Jeff joined the company full time in 1995. That same year, his father sold Mohawk to One Source Distributors. “One Source just sold electrical and didn’t want the plumbing. He sold the remaining plumbing supplies to his fellow competitors who were right around the corner in an industrial area. When my parents sold Mohawk, they didn’t sell the building. They kept the property. They were landlords. My mom, who is 80 now and still comes to the business for a few hours each day, still owns it. The business in front is now called Ferguson, a refrigeration supply business,” he says.
When his father passed in 2000, Jeff, his sister and mom continued running the business with their employees — now numbering 11 on the event side and nine on the tool side. They have had some longtime employees. Their office manager, Rosanne Godinez, has been with the company for more than 30 years, starting when she was a high school senior and has been there ever since.
Today, they are still in the same location — a 4,500-sq.-ft. facility with another 4,500-sq.-ft. shop and a 10,000-sq.-ft. party rental warehouse, which they built in 2005 — all on two acres of land.
Their inventory covers the gamut, from 24-inch pipe wrenches to 65-ft. boom lifts and 10,000-lb. reach forklifts on the tool side to tables, chairs, staging, dance floors, bars, china, flatware, linens and a variety of tents on the event side.
“On the tool side we serve small and large contractors and homeowners as we have a large inventory. On the event side we cater to homeowners, corporate, hospitals and schools, including doing all the graduations for the three or four high schools and junior college that we have here. We are on the border of California and Mexico, so we also set up all the tents for the border health center for the immigrants who come across the border to be processed. We do the whole gamut. Whether you are a contractor of one or 200, or need to rent one chair or 1,000 and all the items that go with it, we can do it,” Jeff says.
There have been challenges over the years. For many years they were about the only rental operation in town. When corporate rental companies first came in, they had challenges competing with the initial lower rental rates. They lost a few customers at first, “but they came back. What they found out was that the corporate folks would promise the lowest rate and then within a year they were paying more than what I was charging for a normal rate. Luckily, all that went away over time,” he says.
Then there was the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “In the early stages we struggled. We didn’t know whether to be open at all. We wanted to be compliant and safe and smart. We didn’t have anyone come inside the store. We put a table in the driveway with plexiglass, and we all wore masks. Our party rental became obsolete, but we did more business than we ever had with our homeowners. The phone rang and rang. We couldn’t even pull in our parking lot we were so busy,” Jeff says.
Luckily, the party side came back. “We have been able to bring everyone back and then some. Party is getting bigger and bigger. I think it goes up every year by 5 percent. There isn’t another place like us in Yuma with the size of our inventory. Since we were born and raised in Yuma, we know everyone. People come to us for their event rental needs,” he adds.
Their longevity and reputation have paid off. “We do not advertise nor have a website. We have a Facebook page for the party end. We have been here so long that customers come to us by referral and word of mouth,” Jeff says.
Jeff admits they are pretty “old school” at how they handle things, even paying cash for their equipment.
“Our culture is very family-oriented. We treat our customers well. We do our best to be fair. We acknowledge them when they walk in the door. People here love that. It is the simple things. We know them and we treat them how we would want to be treated,” he says.
It is a way of doing business that has and continues to work for them. “What makes us stand out is the quality of our inventory. We try to have the best equipment that runs well and looks good. Sometimes equipment will break down, but we swap it out quickly,” he says.
As for what the future holds, Jeff says they plan to keep buying more equipment and continue growing. “Financially, we are doing fantastic. The rental industry has been good for our family and our employees during good times and bad. We are glad we are still here,” he says.