John ‘Jack’ Shea
By Connie Lannan

John ‘Jack’ Shea

With a career in the rental industry spanning nearly 45 years, John “Jack” Shea helped transform the industry through computerization. Prior to founding Solutions by Computer (SBC) in 1982, Shea was responsible for the operations of the company-owned stores of Taylor Rental.

In this role, he pioneered the use of computerization in managing a rental store and its assets, bringing technology to these stores as well as 625 franchised Taylor Rental Centers. This work served as the first step in the evolution of SBC.

Early on, Shea was met with skepticism and resistance from rental operators, but he did not let that deter his vision of bringing affordable technology to rental businesses of all sizes. He fostered early adopters of his systems and then engaged them to help steer future software development efforts.

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

“There are so many worthy people who have contributed over the years. One of the reasons this recognition is so gratifying is because it feels like the American Rental Association (ARA) is also honoring an important evolution in the industry. Rental computerization was a novelty when I started in the industry almost 50 years ago, and now it’s essential,” Shea says.

“I’m most proud of helping to level the playing field for private rental owners. In the early 1980s, rental business software was almost exclusively used by corporate consolidators. I founded Solutions by Computer because I wanted to bring equally good technology to smaller rental operations, so they had the tools to compete,” he says.

Shea also was one of the first people in the rental industry to talk about the importance of realizing returns above the cost of capital and documenting the financial performance of rental assets.

As an executive at Taylor Rental, Shea developed software for franchisees called Taylor Owners Program of Information and Control (TOPIC), which provided analytics to improve decision making in their businesses. His next development was SBC’s Counter Pro software which could be used to write and process transactions, and it also used information to proactively prevent problems from occurring.

Solutions was acquired by Constellation Software in 2008, and in 2015 the company joined forces with a portion of Wynne Systems, also owned by Constellation, to form InTempo Software. Shea retired from InTempo in 2017.

Shea was awarded the ARA Special Service Award in 1988 to recognize his industry service and the knowledge he shared with former employees who over the years also have become technology leaders.

As for perhaps the single biggest change he’s seen over the years, Shea says it is the pace of innovation. “Some of that is due to tech mobility and also advances in the use of data. There also is more cross-fertilizing of ideas between industries, which speeds up innovation. What that means for rental owners is that they need to stay open to new technologies to avoid being at a disadvantage,” he says.


Connie Lannan

Connie LannanConnie Lannan

Connie Lannan is special projects editor for Rental Management. She helps plan, coordinate, write and edit ARA’s quarterly regional newsletters, In Your Region. She also researches, writes and edits news and feature articles for Rental Management, Rental Pulse, supplements, special reports and other special projects. Outside of work, she loves to bake for others, go for walks with her husband and volunteer for her church and causes she believes in.

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