Mount Pleasant rental operation closes its doors after nearly 45 years in business
By Connie Lannan
Tuesday, Feb. 28, was a challenging day for Lisa and Brent Myers, second-generation owners of their family’s Mount Pleasant Rental Center & Party’s Plus in Mount Pleasant, Mich. That was the last day their business — which was started by her parents, Terry and Janet Feltman, and aunt and uncle, Joyce and Larry Moody — was open to the public.
Even though it was difficult to say goodbye to longtime employees, whom the couple considers family, and loyal customers who have been served by the business for years and years, they knew it was time to close the business, retire and move on to a new chapter of their lives.
“We are not closing because of poor business or lack of business,” Lisa says. Actually, the last three years have been some of the best years we have had in 45 years. Last year was a fantastic year. We have been exploring this for about three years now. We were ready to move on to the next stage of our lives. In the rental business, it is a seven-days-a-week business. When you work together, you don’t get a lot of time to be together. So this will be our time to be together.”
While they are excited about entering this new chapter, they admit this transition hasn’t been easy. The rental business has been part of their lives for a long time. For Lisa, it has been a staple since she was a child.
“My parents, aunt and uncle started the business in 1978, first catering to tool and then event rental. It will be coming on 45 years April 1,” she remembers. “My parents learned about the rental business from my aunt and uncle who had a rental business in Orland Park, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. So my parents, in partnership with my aunt and uncle, decided to start one in Michigan. My aunt and uncle’s long-term plan was to close the business in Chicago and move back to Michigan to team up and operate Mount Pleasant Rental Center together. When my aunt and uncle decided to retire, my parents bought them out.”
The business started as a tool rental store and a U-Haul dealer in a little gas station property. As it grew and became more successful, event rentals were added to the inventory. “Then they knocked the gas station down and built a building. We added on twice, the first time in 1982 and then in the 1990s because the party/event side kept growing as well as the tool side,” Lisa says.
As a youngster, she helped out with the business. Lisa started working at the rental operation in a larger capacity in 1986 when she graduated from high school. She continued to work at the family business all through college.
Even with all this rental experience, Lisa wasn’t sure she wanted to make a career in the business, but as she worked more and more in the event side of the operation, she “really enjoyed that end of the business,” she says. “I did the event décor, the on-site decorations and such. I had a passion for that and for working with the public.”
After she earned her degree in retail management marketing, she joined the business full time, working primarily in event rental. “In the early 1990s, when we expanded again, we added a lot of sales items — décor, balloons and wedding accessories. My grandmother worked in the party division at that time, so I was always working alongside her. It definitely was a family operation,” she says.
As she became more comfortable operating both aspects of the business, her mother started grooming her to operate the office and accounting side of the business along with the advertising, buying and human resources aspects of the business.
Brent started in the business in 1998, working with his father-in-law to learn all aspects of operating the rental operation. “Basically, my parents were preparing for us to eventually take over the ownership of the business when they decided to retire,” Lisa says. “Then my father passed away in 2002. That kind of put things in a different direction. My mother decided to retire a few years after that. We then bought her out and became owners in 2005.”
In 2011, they purchased a portable restroom business, which enhanced both their tool and party sides. “Both construction clients and our event clients appreciated the addition,” Lisa says, adding that over the years they also purchased property surrounding their business and added a storage unit.
Throughout the years, their business and their 14-20 employees, many of whom have been working at the business for more than 15 years, including one who has been there for 29 years, have taken care of the needs of homeowners, contractors, brides, and wedding and event planners, as well as the local college and community college.
Their children also have been involved in the business. Their daughter, Taylor, worked in the event rental side through high school and college and continued to help when needed, and their son, Jordan, has helped his parents with both the tool and event side during high school and has worked full time for the past two years. All members of the family have been involved in the business.
For Lisa and Brent, the relationships they have developed are what they will miss the most.
“We will miss coming to work every day and seeing the faces of our employees, our customers and our vendors who would stop in at the store,” Lisa says. “Our employees are like family. We plan to keep those relationship up as they have been here for everything that has been hard and everything that has been great about the business. And our customers, especially the do-it-yourselfers who are so excited when they get their projects finished and share photos with you — the joy of seeing their faces when their projects have come to fruition. It is all our customers. We have had relationships with all of them. Brent has worked on the tool side and I have worked primarily on the event side with brides on their weddings, with folks who are planning a party or family reunion. We will miss everyone we have developed relationships with. Our employees, our customers and vendors have been great. We are grateful as this has been a very good business for our family. It supported my parents, my aunt and uncle, us, our kids and a lot of families over the years.”
With neither of their two children interested in taking over the running of the business, the couple will auction all their equipment March 28. They have not determined whether they will lease their property on a long-term basis or sell it.
Beginning in April they will finally have time to focus on what they want to do now that they are retired. “We have been so engulfed in the plans of taking care of this first that we haven’t had a lot of time to talk about all we want to do. We want to spend time with our families. We have one grandchild and another on the way. We also want to spend time with each other because all we have been doing is running the business. We want to learn more about each other than business. We plan to enjoy our retirement — traveling, golfing and enjoying our time on the lake,” Lisa says.