U.S. Rents-It exemplifies sustainability with quality equipment and services.
Janice Houser likes to think U.S. Rents-It was eco-friendly long before modern consumers thought it was cool.
Janice’s great-uncle, Hugo Gentges, opened his store in 1932 as a roofing company, then known as U.S. Steel Roofing. After World War II and during the 1950’s housing boom, a neighbor crossed the railroad tracks to procure a hammer for a building project. Ever the entrepreneur, Hugo rented him one, unknowingly giving birth to Jefferson City’s first equipment rental business in the process.
Today, U.S. Rents-It is known for its STIHL line of power equipment, Perma-Green landscaping tools, trailers, trucks, lifts, and construction gear. The store also has a wedding and party department that covers every design detail from floor to ceiling.
Even seven decades after Hugo rented out his first tool, the business of lending and borrowing for the sake of practicality hasn’t lost its appeal. What made it an economically viable option then (i.e., supply meeting demand at an affordable price) is a naturally sustainable business model in today’s climate.
Many people cannot afford to buy a chainsaw out-right. By renting one for a few hours, the borrower saves money and eliminates the need for one more chain saw to be produced.
“We’ve been recycling since before recycling was an ‘in’ thing.”
Citizens of Jefferson City and its surrounding areas have always been of the do-it-yourself breed, which Janice credits to the evergreen success of U.S. Rents-It. As each new generation recognizes the effects of chronic consumption and trending inflation, there is a renewed interest in DIY projects today — be it landscaping, building, improving, or event planning.
U.S. Rents-It appeals to a greener mindset by offering quality equipment that is local, reliable, and affordable. This future-facing business stance assists consumers seeking to minimize their carbon footprint. Instead of purchasing equipment or supplies on the internet, quality unknown, shoppers can opt for an economical alternative where the equipment can be handled in person and quality is not sacrificed. By renting gear on an as-needed basis, the borrower eliminates the need for ship-ping, assembly, and repairs.
Fortunately, U.S. Rents-It is more than just a friendly rental business.
“We added it up, our employees together have over186 years of experience consulting with projects,” Janice says. “This in-house expertise lends extra value to their rental products. A customer can count on a rental that is not only properly serviced and ready to go, but one that comes with advice from a seasoned professional.”
U.S. Rents-It has gone back to its roots over the years.Janice and Steve Houser began managing the family business in 2016 and have worked to focus their business strategy. After years in design, Janice took on the rentals for the party and wedding department.
“When I got here in 2016, the front room was full of merchandise. What we’ve tried to do is get back to this idea of a display area where you can really envision what you want, and we can make it happen. We can work with any budget — we get it.”
“Our employees together have over 186 years of experience…A customer can count on a rental that is not only properly serviced and ready to go, but one that comes with advice from a seasoned professional.”
Janice says the key to maintaining a quality inventory while reducing waste is inextricably related to keeping a close eye on what customers want. In the realm of bridal decor, Janice pinpoints the differences between a trend and a fad. What is trending in Central Missouri will be used and recycled, serving its decorative purpose again and again. On the other hand, fads come and go, and oftentimes, the same materials can be modified to accommodate bridal needs.
“Everything has a shelf life. If you buy something cheap, you’ll eventually put more money into it to maintain it. When you use our linens and return them, for example, we clean them and send them right back out in excellent condition.”
This commitment to offering quality supplies and equipment keeps locals returning to U.S. Rents-It for their varied needs, be it a tiller for the garden or table decorations for a birthday party. In a remarkable way, the Gentges’ family rental business is a picture of sustainable living that reflects the community’s commonsense values of the past. Janice says the nice thing about Jefferson City is its core values are always the same.
“History is like a pendulum,” she says. “It swings oneway and then eventually it will swing the other way.They did things out of necessity, and it’s all coming back around. Really what we’re doing here is just what UncleHugo was doing back in the 1950s. We’ve been recycling since before recycling was an ‘in’ thing.