Ahern Rentals, the large Las Vegas-based independent rental company, closed the books on 2012 with record annual sales and a record month in October despite struggling through a protracted Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.
"It was a tough, long recession, but it is clearly over now, and good times are ahead of us," said Don Ahern on February 5 at the annual World of Concrete show. He declined to specify sales figures but noted that 2012 was the company's best-ever year.
Although the company has suffered setbacks in the bankruptcy process, which began in late 2011, Ahern, who owns 97% of the company (his brother owns the remaining 3%) said he does not intend to give up equity to creditors who have been circling overhead.
"We are not going to be harvested just because of a downturn," Ahern told ENR, adding that he hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 sometime this year. The company owes more than $379 million in unpaid bills. Its largest creditor is Los Angeles billionaire Tom Gores, who owns Platinum Equity and Maxim Crane Works.
Negotiations with creditors, who claim that Ahern legally must pay in full to retain ownership, have been tough, exposing the company to a possible takover. "If they were able to make us an offer we might be able to come out sooner," said Ahern. "We've made them lots of offers, but they haven't accepted any."
Ahern, whose father founded the 60-year-old company, said business is poised to continue growing amid a recovering economy. His manufacturing unit Xtreme displayed a handful of telescopic handlers and the company's newest addition, the Xtreme Cube, at this year's concrete show.
A brainchild of Don Ahern, the Xtreme Cube is a stackable, modular-steel structure that has found success in mines, oil fields and construction sites as living spaces, maintenance shops and tool sheds. Shipped fully outfitted and costing between $100 and $150 per sq ft, sales have doubled each year since being introduced three years ago.
"It's the fastest growing part of the Xtreme business," Ahern said. "It represents about 20% of our total sales." Recently, Ahern secured a large order for Container City, a $350-million urban revitalization concept in Las Vegas led by shoe-retailer Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.
"We're grateful to be part of Tony Hsieh's vision," Ahern said.