Ahern defiant in face of Chapter 11 process

By Lindsey Anderson07 January 2013

Don Ahern said he had made strenuous efforts to reach agreement with its creditors in the Chapter 11 process – a process he described as “evil” - and argued that the company was now trading strongly.

“Bankruptcy is to give a company an opportunity,” said a defiant Mr Ahern in an exclusive interview with KHL Group magazine Access Lift & Handlers (ALH), “We were not given that opportunity. Our recovery has been measureable and phenomenal. We are generating cash like crazy.”

Ahern Rental, based in Las Vegas, US, was the largest independent rental company in North America when it entered the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process in December 2011 with debts of more than US$600 million.

Ahern said he has presented two debt restructuring plans, one with banks and bond holders on a set interest rate and giving payment in full, and a second providing creditors with a discounted, cash offer. The Chapter 11 judge ended Ahern Rental’s exclusive right to present a plan – a ruling that Ahern is fighting.

“The judge should have given us time to negotiate,” Ahern said. “The big story here is that our company is rapidly recovering and I think they’re trying to get it from us, because if we continue to recovery, it will be harder and harder for them to win this.”

Ahern told ALH that the business was now performing well. “This judge should be dancing,” he said. “This was a remarkable success story. It would have been so much easier to sell everything.”

Ahern had harsh words for the bankruptcy system – calling it “an incestuous and evil process” – but said he still had the appetite to run the business. He had a strong message for those that would see his company fail; “If they force me out, I will be back in it before the sun comes up. If somebody else owns Ahern Rentals, I will be Ahern Rentals’ biggest competitor.”

He said his strategy of opening new locations when the recession hit had been proved correct. “If I had to do this again, I’d do it. There’s no other strategy that would work short of just quitting. You couldn’t have sold the business or the assets to pay off the debt in 2009.”

Read the full interview in the January-February issue of ALH.

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