When he was in high school in 2007, Nathan Elmore’s father thought it was time for him to get a summer job.
“Two of his friends had recently opened an equipment rental store, and they asked him if I would be interested in a job. My dad drove me to Andover Rental and introduced me to one of the owners. I knew nothing about equipment, but they offered me a job and I began work a few weeks later,” says Elmore, 30, who is now president of Andover Rental, Andover, Kan.
Joining the company as it was starting up, Elmore had the opportunity to learn the software system alongside the owners and quickly gained their trust.
“It wasn’t long before they gave me my own key and I grew to love working there. I remember spending my Friday nights after we closed, and everyone went home, sweeping the shop and organizing the showroom. Keep in mind I was only 16 at the time,” he says.
Elmore bought his own large toolbox and filled it with tools, teaching himself to work on the equipment and learning how each machine worked.
“As time passed, the owners slowly hired more employees, and I became the unofficial manager. I worked at Andover Rental throughout high school and college, which allowed me to graduate college debt-free. I enjoyed the rental business so much that on my college graduation day I walked across the stage, picked up my diploma, walked out of the stadium and headed to the rental store. After all, it was a Saturday and I knew I’d be needed,” he says.
He graduated from Wichita State University with a degree in entrepreneurship with an emphasis in real estate with minors in marketing and management.
“My plan was to leave the rental industry after college and head into real estate. I began the real estate exam and interviewed to become a residential realtor. I had told the owners of Andover Rental if they would ever be willing to sell, I would be interested in purchasing their company. A few days after taking my real estate exam, they called and offered me the opportunity to buy them both out and assume 100 percent ownership of Andover Rental,” Elmore says, adding that it was a difficult process with many setbacks.
“I was laughed out of multiple banks. I was told my financial projections were unachievable and unrealistic. Door after door after door seemed to slam in my face. I finally found a bank willing to make the loan, I spent months ironing out the details with them only to have them back out a few weeks before the deal was set to close,” he says.
That’s when his grandfather “pulled some strings” and helped him get the funding to purchase the company.
“In my first year of ownership, we not only met the financial projections in my business plan, we blew them out of the water. Unfortunately, my grandfather passed away before he could see what Andover Rental has become, but I know he watches over me each and every day. I try my best to make him proud,” Elmore says.
When he was growing up, Elmore wanted to be a scientist. Then he wanted to a chef. In high school, he decided he wanted to be a real estate agent until he was able to buy Andover Rental.
“I didn’t plan to stay in the rental industry past high school, let alone college, but the rental industry is addictive. It gets into your blood and there is no cure. This industry is fast paced, not for the weary or the lazy. You must be able to change gears and adjust your day on the fly. I plan my days 24 hours in advance, and then throw out the plan and write a new one within 15 minutes of arriving at work. I thrive on the energy of our customers and building individual relationships with them. And lots and lots of Dr. Pepper,” he says.
Elmore also turned to the American Rental Association (ARA) soon after he purchased Andover Rental.
“While I had a general knowledge of the rental industry, the resources available to ARA members on the ARA website are top notch. I recently used a list of sample interview questions to update the questions I ask during an interview with a potential employee. By far, the most valuable resource available to ARA members is The ARA Show™. I have attended every show I could, and the relationships you build with suppliers and other rental store owners at that show are more valuable than all of the books you could ever read on the rental industry. If I had one piece of advice for someone in the rental industry, it would be to set aside the time to attend at least one show. Speaking from experience, I promise you will not regret it,” he says.