Never quit and focus on what is next
By Connie Lannan
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Never quit and focus on what is next

Utah rental operator lives her ‘great American story’

 

Julie Campbell

Beehive Rental & Sales, St. George, Utah, began in 1994 at the kitchen table of Julie Campbell and her then-husband.

“It’s the great American story,” she says. “My husband was a journeyman electrician and got laid off. We decided we wanted to create a job that we couldn’t get fired from, so at our kitchen table we first started Beehive Barricades, renting barricades and signs for freeway jobs. I worked for my father who was a general contractor. He built highways and dams. We were able to get a job with him. I would work for my dad during the day. My husband was trying to drum up jobs and worked the jobs we had. I would do the invoices at night and then drive to the jobs after that, picking up the barricades and cones that got tipped over. That was the start.”

The business was doing well, first hiring one employee and then more. But in 2005, Campbell and her husband were divorced and she bought out his share of the business.

“I became the sole owner of the business, a single mom with three kids still at home and no husband who had been helping in the rental yard. I juggled, taking the kids to school in my delivery truck and
then coming back to the business,” she says.

It was a challenge, but Campbell didn’t let it get the best of her. “If there is a problem, you set it up, ask what your biggest threat is, look at what is happening and then knock it down. You keep setting each challenge up and knocking them down,” she says.

The 2008 recession took a huge toll on her business. “I wrote notes to my banker that ‘I am not a quitter.’ I have been loyal to my bank and my vendors. They all know that I will not quit on them,” she says.

Slowly the business turned around. Soon after, she learned about the American Rental Association (ARA). “One of our vendors told me about ARA. I went to the show in Las Vegas, which was like a Christmas candy store. I was blown away. I got tons of names of vendors, made connections and received so many ideas. It was so exciting. I went to the classes and learned so much about positivity and the idea of ‘yes, you can.’ I joined ARA when I was on the show floor,” she says.

The positivity she learned at the seminars made quite the impact on Campbell. “It helped me look at what’s next,” she says, adding that this has been a philosophy she has carried through in her business and in life since then.

“We now have 14 employees. We have quite a few college-age kids. We have an attitude of ‘What is next? What is stopping you from moving forward with your life?’ If you come to work for us, we will help you with life and whatever is next in your life, whether that is getting a GED, going to college, buying a house or something else. We try to help them get financially smart, so they get more than a job from us. We invest in our employees. Two of our former employees have gone off and started businesses on their own, which is great,” Campbell says, admitting that she sometimes sees herself as a mother figure to
her employees.

“Everyone was home with their stimulus checks. They decided to do all their ‘honey-do’ home improvement projects. We were quite slammed.”

— Julie Campbell,
Beehive Rental & Sales

She has had a lot of great experience in that area. A mother of six children, she married Danny Campbell, who had six children of his own, in 2009. “We have a baker’s dozen and we have adopted two more children too,” she says.

She is proud of the fact that almost all of the kids have worked in the business. “My son is our diesel mechanic. My oldest daughter is my general manager, another daughter runs the counter and another daughter handles our social media posts,” Campbell says, adding that her husband also joined the business as the parts manager. “We are family-operated. Our logo is ‘Your local hometown rental yard.’”

Campbell also shares that “what’s next” attitude with her customers. “When customers have been renting from us for a while and they are struggling, we talk with them and ask them the same type of questions. We want them to move forward and be successful,” she says.

Throughout the years, the business has continued to grow. “We now have 11 skid steers, many reach forklifts, backhoes, yard loaders, etc. One of our specialties in town is that we have a lot of mini skid steers. That is a hot item for us. St. George is kind of a newly discovered town, with a lot of folks moving here from California. We are just under the snow break line. Our town is in boom mode, with a lot of landscaping going on. The mini skid steers are small and can fit in a lot of places,” she says.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) hit, business increased dramatically. “Everyone was home with their stimulus checks. They decided to do all their ‘honey-do’ home improvement projects. We were quite slammed,” Campbell says.

But then a few months later, the city built a road through her business’s yard. “They really cut into our yard. We had to reconfigure that space, but we now have more road traffic,” she says.

It was a challenge, but during this time she purchased the 9,000-sq.-ft. diesel mechanic shop next door. “We did a lot of cleaning, painting and such, but we are very excited as this will give us way more space. Our yard is now triple the size,” Campbell says.

There have been other challenges and ups and downs over the years, but what hasn’t changed is Campbell’s commitment to her employees and her customers.

“We think life should be fun. Our front counter staff offers a joke a day for everyone. Customers bring in their jokes, too. We know about their personal lives. They are our friends. Our customers come back for their equipment needs. Since we do repairs and sales, they also come to us for those services. They know we care,” she says.

After all these years, Campbell is still grateful she made the decision at her kitchen table to move into the rental arena. “I really like all the connections I have made. ARA has great resources and ARA rental operators are so nice and helpful. I also like the variety that the industry offers. In this business you can evolve in any way you want, which is great,” she 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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