Michael became CEO of United Rentals in 2008, but his career in rental started long before. His first experience in the industry was in sales for Free State Industries, an aerial equipment company – before this piece of equipment was popular and scaffolding prevailed in the construction world. Michael’s perseverance led him to become the president of Free State, eventually negotiating its sale to Equipment Supply Company in 1996. In 1998, United Rentals acquired Equipment Supply Company and Michael assumed a senior management role, and later became the third CEO in the history of United Rentals.
One of Michael’s persistent messages as a rental executive was “being the biggest doesn’t matter unless you’re also the best” – reflecting his take on customer service, ingenuity, creativity, and imagination. Early on, he authorized the creation of an Advanced Solutions group that worked with construction and industrial managers in the early-adoption phase, performing drone inspections in elevator shafts and other hard-to-reach places. This helped lay the foundation for the upsurge in interest that followed. In 2011, Michael was part of establishing ARA Rental Market Metrics™, which gave rental companies a consistent way to calculate performance for the first time.
His dedication to his employees and customers was always at the forefront. In 2010, United Rentals implemented digital customer scorecards to track branch, district, and company-wide performance in key areas. Michael is also an advocate of helping military veterans transition into civilian jobs. His efforts also include supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives for the company having developed three multicultural employee resources groups: Women United, Veterans United, and Together United. On three separate occasions, United Rentals awarded shares of company stock to almost all employees – most recently awarding approximately 18,000 frontline employees who are providing essential services during the pandemic.
Michael retired from his role as CEO in 2019, but his passion for the industry remains strong. He continues to serve as Chair of the Board of United Rentals, Chair of Maxim Crane and serves on other company boards.