Mike Watts, who founded Sunstate Equipment in 1977.

Mike Watts, who founded Sunstate Equipment in 1977.

Sunstate Equipment’s founder and executive chairman Mike Watts is to retire in February. At the same time, majority owner Sumitomo Corp will become the full owner of the business, with Mr Watt’s son, Chris, continuing as CEO.

Sumitomo of Japan first invested in Sunstate in 2009 and increased its stake to 80% in 2013. It becomes sole owner now as Sunstate celebrates its 40th year in business. Mike Watts, 68, will continue to serve as an advisor to the board.

“After 47 years in the rental industry, starting Sunstate and building it over the past 40 years, I feel very comfortable and satisfied with our position in the industry, the calibre of business we have built, and the opportunities for the future”, said Mr Watts.

“I am proud of our success and the strong positive culture we have developed, which is creating an environment that allowed people to feel they were valued, provided opportunities for growth, and held everyone accountable to the consistent standards we created.

“The belief remains the same, that when we do this, people enjoy coming to work each day and make small improvements so we can continue to build a great business. I am especially pleased that my son, Chris Watts, will have the opportunity with his ability to take Sunstate to an even higher level.”

Mr Watts started his career in the rental industry in 1970 working for another company, and then founded Sunstate with his wife in 1977, with four employees. It has since become one of the largest rental businesses in the world, ranked 24 in last year’s IRN100 survey with revenues of €430 million and 61 locations in nine US states.

Mr Watts was inducted into the American Rental Association’s Rental Hall of Fame in 2010.

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