The American Rental Association of Michigan would not be the success it is today without the pioneers of Michigan’s rental industry who foresaw the benefits of forming an association made of small rental businesses who would come together to promote the industry throughout the state, and those who provide leadership through the years to see that our small businesses are treated fairly when it comes to licensing, regulation, and taxation. We wish to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of the outstanding leaders of our Association. We present here the first two inductees to the ARA of Michigan Hall of Fame for 2017-2018:
Adrian Onderdonk was born in Vienna, Austria on April 3, 1924. He was wedded to Lydia “Ann” Saxton. They have three children, Linda Harvey, John Onderdonk and Bob Onderdonk, who all worked at and became owners of A-1 Rental in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Adrian was a tail gunner in WWII, flew an incredible 55 missions with the 409th Bombardment Group, and was honorably discharged. He graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelors degree in Business Administration.
After reading about the rental business in a magazine, Adrian and Ann were pioneers of the rental business in Washtenaw County when they opened A-1 Rental in Ann Arbor in 1957. After work, they loaded the kids in to the family station wagon – which also doubled as the delivery vehicle – and drove to the surrounding neighborhoods to deliver homemade fliers. “We approached our competitors and friends who helped us in our equipment expansion decisions. I’m proud to say that this is still one of the advantages of being and ARAM member today,” said Adrian.
They kept up with trends by attending ARA’s annual convention and trade show. “We attended the second convention offered by ARA and have tried to have one of us attend each year,” Adrian said.
Adrian was very active with MERA (the Michigan Equipment Rental Association), which evolved into the ARA of Michigan. He held many board positions with MERA on his way to becoming president of the association. Many times he opened his store to host association meetings and seminars. He was always in events sponsored by the association including hands-on shows, conventions, politics, winter conferences, seminars, social events and the ARA of Michigan rental auction.
He retired in 2003 at the age of 78, when his children took over the business. Adrian passed away on December 8, 2009.
David Gill was born in Youngstown, Ohio on September 4, 1961. He graduated from Conneaut High School, attended Kent State University and the Great Lakes Military Academy in Traverse City, Michigan where he earned a bachelors degree in Marine Management. Dave married the former Judy Zsako in 1984. They have two children, Megan and Alex.
Dave owned and operated Rentals Unlimited on South Division Street in Traverse City. He was a voracious reader, was very active in local politics, served on the Board of Directors of the ARA of Michigan, and loved the “Peanuts” comic strip characters.
Dave Gill always stood ready to help those in need, and he had a ready smile and a one-liner for nearly every occasion. He also had a giving heart, and expressed it by supporting local charities. It was Dave’s idea to start “Operation: Snowball” the ARA of Michigan program which provides matching funds to rental stores who adopt a needy person or family during the winter months.
Politics was a passion for Dave. He was appointed to act as Legislative Liaison for the ARA of Michigan when he joined the Board of Directors in July of 2008. In April of 2009, Dave began writing an informative column called “GrassRoots” in the ARA of Michigan newsletter, Rental News, for the purpose of keeping the members informed of the happenings at our State Capitol, and to explicitly create a grass roots effort to encourage their participation in protecting and furthering the interests of the rental industry in Michigan. And he really told it straight, with no beating around the bushes!
Suffering an accident at work, Dave was taken from us suddenly and way too soon on November 7, 2015. His wit, enthusiasm, passion, and generosity are greatly missed.