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.
aram hall of fame 2019
The thing that got Bob Updegraff interested in the rental business was the fact it looked like FUN! Bob was working for Engineered Products selling goods to the auto aftermarket. Another vendor invited Bob to an ARA meeting in Vegas. Being a peddler, Bob wanted to sell filter minders to air compressor manufacturers. With that goal in mind he headed to Vegas and his first ARA event!
The compressor manufacturers told him they do what the buyer wants so Bob shifted gears and started talking to all the rental people at-tending the show and was impressed with their honesty and openness.
After the Vegas meeting Bob and his beloved wife, Barb started to visit some of the local rental businesses. Adrian Onderdonk with A-1 Rental, Ann Arbor, Michigan really impressed Bob. When Adrian realized Bob was also Dutch, he invited him into his office for about an hour and opened his books. Barb said, “He literally “sold him” on opening his own rental business”.
Now bitten by the rental bug, Bob and Barb put the word out that they were looking to buy a store. In 1994, they met with Bob Moore, the owner of Taylor Rental in Jackson, Michigan and bought his store. Barb commented “We soon learned, we paid way to much for inventory in bad condition”.
Now in the rental business, Bob met with ARA associates to gain information. He worked with Taylor Rental associates to build his party and event business. They went to the winter ARA meeting in Orlando and met many store owners and vendors. Bob and Barb also went to Grand Rental University and learned all they could. They were hooked!
After getting his feet wet in the Rental Industry, it didn’t take Bob long to step up to run for the board of the ARA OF MI as an area director. He won and dove in as an active, driving force on the ARAM board. He became Vice-President and President of the ARA of Michigan.
From the time they became owners, Bob and Barb attended all rental related meetings they could. Barb said, “Bob loved the meetings, seminars and all the toys of the rental industry!
Unfortunately, in 2001 due to an auto accident, Bob was taken from this world. The loss of his presence as an active member and brother of our ARAM family was sadly and strongly felt in the hearts of those who worked with and loved him for the man he was.
In 2002, Dodie Holst, ARAM secretary and board member while Bob was president worked with ARA National to bring Barb Updegraff to the next ARA National Show. There, ARA commended and cited Bob Updegraff for an “Outstanding Record Of Dedicated Service On Behalf Of Region 5 And The Entire Rental Industry”.
Bob’s daughter, Karen and her husband Dean Anderson were both working at the store when Bob passed and continued operating the busi-ness. Barb Updegraff and Dean Anderson both went on to serve as board members with the ARA Of Michigan.
Barb said of her beloved husband, “Bob was sick of dressing in a suit and tie every workday. He loved the rental business because he could wear flannel shirts to work and he worked with people who also wore flannel shirts. This was his DREAM JOB!
Since he first entered into the rental business, Bob always helped the ARAM and his fellow rental members by stepping up whenever possible and was very active in it’s events and success.. For his hard work and dedication to the rental industry we honor him by adding his name to the ARAM Wall of Fame in 2019.
You can’t talk about Dick Fullmer without first stating that he is the ultimate MICHIGAN STATE FAN! GO GREEN!
Dick was pursuing his master’s degree in business at Michigan State University when the rental business came into his life. He had a good friend, Ellis English who owned a United Rent-Alls in nearby Lansing who he worked for on the weekends. He was learning the rental way from the inside out. Dick once asked Ellis how many United Rent-Alls were located in a town of 5,000 people. Ellis laughed and told him, “They wouldn’t open a franchise in that size town”. Dick said “That kind of burst my bubble”. He had been considering going back home and opening his own rental store. In his heart, the rental seed had been planted!
Upon graduation, Dick, couldn’t get the idea out of his head of opening a rental store in his hometown, Caro, Michigan, population 5,000 (give or take a few) so he decided to strike out on his own! Just outside the growing downtown neighborhoods of Caro, Dick and his lovely wife, Jan lived in his childhood home on a 10 acre plot that was prime for a rental store. In 1982 while working as an electrician, Dick built his own rental store!
Dick traveled to Anaheim for his first ARA National Rental Show in 1982 with his mentor Ellis and stated “It really opened my eyes”! Dick & Jan opened their rental business, Caro Rental in the summer of 1982. Small at first, their biggest challenge was getting people to understand the concept of rental. Dick said “They didn’t realize what they could rent”, so he used the Yellow Pages to advertise the business. Slowly the business grew and he kept buying more equipment to meet demand. They expanded by building onto the store with a room dedicated to Party and Event equipment.
In 1992, Dick opened a second store in Bay City, Michigan which he later sold to his manager. Caro Rental would go on to sell bottled and bulk propane with home delivery. He also developed a 375 stall self-storage business on his 10-acre rental oasis.
Dick and Jan have two daughters, Bobbie and Debbie. Over the years, the whole family worked at Caro Rental at some point. Bobbie has attended many ARA National shows always with a smile.
Dick and Jan have never missed an ARA Rental Show after Dick attended his first national show in 1982. They are longtime, active, beloved members of the Michigan Equipment Rental Association which transformed into the ARA of Michigan. He quickly became an active board member.
Dick is a hobby auctioneer. That life experience served him and the ARA of Michigan well being Dick was the Chief Architect of the ARAM Rental Auction and instrumental to the success it has become today. As an area director for ARAM, he knew rental stores needed a way to turn their inventory that was quick, easy and effective. Having worked as an auctioneer, he knew how to structure the auction to benefit rental stores, the ARAM and most importantly how to keep commission rates low!
Under Dick’s guidance, the first ARAM auction was held in April of 1998 at the Fowlerville Fairgrounds and continued through 2005. In 2006, the ARAM board of directors decided to take the auction “high tech.” Dick contracted with Miedema Auctioneering to host the first online auction in the spring of that year. It was a big success and members were very supportive of the new online auction. The world could now buy the equipment and it helped push prices up! In 2013, the auction had became so popular members wanted to have a spring and a fall auction and Dick was at the helm of the auction committee to make it happen.
It is impossible to state how important the creation of the ARAM Rental Auction was for our organization! With Auction proceeds, ARAM became able to offer RENT-TECH Training Classes, the annual Winter Conference, lobby our State and National representatives, congressman and much do so much more for our members!
As a longtime ARAM board member, Dick traveled several times to the Michigan State Capital representing the ARAM to eliminate personal property taxes and lobby against unfair rental issues. In 1998 at the ARA Eastern Fall Conference, Dick was cited and commended for his “Outstanding Record Of Dedi-cated Service On Behalf Of Region 5 And The Entire Rental Industry”. Dick was also a founder and generous donor to the Rental Equipment Ind. Founda-tion’s Pyramid Club.
We honor Dick Fullmer in 2019 for his devotion to family, friends, Sparty and the rental industry as we induct him into the ARA of Michigan “Hall of Fame”.
ARA of michigan hall of fame 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.