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Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska welcome new leaders

By Brock Huffstutler

March 14, 2024

The American Rental Association (ARA) state chapters of Minnesota, Missouri and Nebraska recently welcomed a new batch of industry professionals to their boards of directors.

ARA of Minnesota

Tyler Curtiss, Construction Product Sales

Tyler Curtiss

Tyler Curtiss

Curtiss is a sales associate with Construction Product Sales (CPS), an independent manufacturer’s representative based in the Chicago area.

A native of Grand Rapids, Minn., Curtiss oversees sales activity for CPS’s Minnesota and North Dakota territories.

Curtiss will serve as associate member director for the ARA of Minnesota. In this role, he will represent the voices and viewpoints of industry manufacturer/suppliers as the chapter develops initiatives and activities.

David Gutierrez, Central Rental, Spring Lake Park, Minn.

David Gutierrez

David Gutierrez

Gutierrez is president of Central Rental, a resource for equipment and event rental needs that serves contractors, homeowners and businesses in the Twin Cities area.

Gutierrez came into the rental business with a background in the oil and gas industry where “I spent 10 years in various roles culminating in optimization of business processes and implementation,” he says. “When my family and I decided to relocate closer to home by moving to the Twin Cities in 2022, a career change was imminent.”

Small business ownership had always piqued Gutierrez’s entrepreneurial spirit. “That’s why we jumped at the opportunity to join a great industry that seemed to have endless opportunities,” he says of rental. “When researching the business that we ultimately acquired, Central Rental, we met several individuals in the industry who were extremely open and welcoming, which helped cement that this was the right move for us.”

Gutierrez says he accepted the call to fill an open spot on the ARA of Minnesota board of directors because “getting together with other business executives to share ideas brings value to everyone from the owners to the customers. As a newcomer to the industry, I also find it extremely compelling to have the opportunity to sit amongst some of the great business leaders in the rental industry to absorb some of their knowledge and experience.”

While on the board, Gutierrez hopes to bring technology to the fore. “I come from a different industry with a background in technology, which I feel can be a game-changer to all industries. I love what I see as far as innovations go and I want to continue to be part of that evolution,” he says.

Nick Luoma, London Road Rental Center, Duluth, Minn.

Nick Luoma

Nick Luoma

Luoma is general manager of London Road Rental Center.

He has been involved in the equipment rental industry for 21 years and has served in his current position for 17 years.

When asked what his favorite aspect of ARA membership is, Luoma says, “Networking with fellow rental professionals.”

As a member of the ARA of Minnesota leadership team, Luoma hopes to utilize that networking advantage to “get a clearer understanding of industry issues in Minnesota and be part of the change,” he says.

Jon Pederson, Highway 55 Rental & Sales, Hamel, Minn.

Jon Pederson

Jon Pederson

Pederson is chief financial officer of Highway 55 Rental & Sales. He has worked full time at the company since graduating from the University of Iowa’s business school in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. Prior to graduating, Pederson worked every summer at the company’s party store since he was 14.

Pederson says he accepted the invitation to join the board to get more involved in the rental industry, especially with other stores in Minnesota.

“It is fun to see so many second- and third-generation owners take on more engaging roles in managing and running our individual stores,” he says. “I love how our industry shares ideas and freely allows subrentals to help each store be successful. This industry is growing and evolving in new ways every day, making it truly one of the most interesting careers out there, at least in my opinion. Now that I am on the board, I can help continue the tradition of sharing ideas and working with members to help keep up with this ever-changing market.”

ARA of Missouri

Janice Houser, U.S. Rents-It, Jefferson City, Mo.

Janice Houser

Janice Houser

Houser, who has been involved in event rentals professionally for eight years, is the director of weddings and events at U.S. Rents-It. While she has served in the business of rental directly; she has been industry-adjacent for more than three decades.

“My great uncle, Hugo Gentges — one of the founding fathers of ARA — started U.S. Rents-It,” Houser says. “And my grandmother was the first caterer in Jefferson City, so the hospitality industry has been my world.”

Houser’s background includes hospitality services for the Ritz-Carlton organization and other providers of luxury. Moving into wedding, event and party direction in the rental space “just seemed like the perfect fit,” Houser says. “My husband, Steve [Houser, who serves as ARA Region Six director] and I have kept the U.S. Rents-It icon going in Jefferson City, but at the same time brought our own spin to the company.”

During her time on the ARA of Missouri board, Houser hopes to spur more involvement in association activities from her event rental peers. “Just being involved in ARA of Missouri events like our summer conference, I have noticed that there aren’t many party rental companies that come. We have representation from some, but it seems like participation from the equipment side is heavier. I would like to see more involvement from the party side,” she says.

Away from rental, Houser sponsors and helps plan several nonprofit organizations’ events in her community, including Heart Ball, Red Slipper, Special Learning Center and American Heart Association events.

Aaron Jones, Bulldog Rental & Sales, Kearney, Mo.

Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones

Jones is managing partner of Bulldog Rental & Sales.

He says he has been involved in the construction industry “my entire life, starting as a kid helping my father and grandfather with home remodel projects and then going through the building trades program in high school and joining the carpenters’ union after graduation. I took the skills learned there and started my own construction company, Above & Beyond Remodeling.”

Above & Beyond led Jones to other places.

“I was intrigued by the work a sales rep agency did on the other side of the industry. From there, I moved up to a couple of other sales positions where I became more involved with the rental side of the industry. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that there was not a good rental store option in our area. My family and I found a great location that was vacant, we signed a lease and put it all on the line — we started from nothing, gave it our all, and here we are, almost four years later, still going,” he says.

“There are constant challenges and changes in our industry,” Jones says, adding that during his tenure as an ARA of Missouri board member, “I just want to stay relevant with the industry and my customers’ needs, supplying them with the best equipment and services that I can.”

John ‘Skip’ Kernan Jr., Ango Kernan Rentals & Sales, St. Louis

Skip Kernan

Skip Kernan

Kernan is president of Ango Kernan Rentals & Sales.

“As owner of the business, I oversee the daily operation, financials, marketing, sales, front counter, employees and whatever else is needed,” Kernan says. “I have been in the rental industry for 18 years in this role, 18 in construction and party, then for 25 in rent-to-own.”

Kernan is a past president of the Greater St. Louis Rental Association and received the ARA Region Six Person of the Year Award in 2010.

During his tenure on the ARA of Missouri board, Kernan hopes to enhance the networking opportunities available to members. “It is great being able to connect with other rental professionals. My goal as a board member is to create chapter events that allow for networking opportunities and idea sharing, so rental stores can learn from each other,” he says.

ARA of Nebraska

Mercedes Honeyman–Stuart, Honeyman Rent All, Omaha, Neb.

Mercedes Honeyman-Stuart

Mercedes Honeyman-Stuart

“I have dipped my toes in various part of the business, from bookkeeping and advertising to SEM [Search Engine Marketing],” says Honeyman-Stuart, who has served as customer service representative at Honeyman Rent All for 10 years. “I also maintain inventory of supplies, parts, uniforms ordered and in stock for employees. A business takes so many people to keep it running smoothly, and I enjoy being the middleman of it all.”

Honeyman-Stuart, a member of ARA’s Young Professional Network (YPN), holds a bookkeeping certificate and is in the process of obtaining a digital technology certificate.

Relationship-building is at the top of Honeyman-Stuart’s list of priorities for her company’s ARA membership and her tenure with the ARA of Nebraska board of directors.

“I enjoy being able to build relationships with vendors and other rental professionals,” she says. “My goal as a board member is to create more networking opportunities for others in the state and keep up with the trends of this ever-changing industry.”