Sunstate Founder Mike Watts to Retire | Construction News

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Sunstate Equipment Rental founder and executive chairman Mike Watts is retiring in February.

Sunstate Equipment, which celebrates 40 years in business this year, and its partner, Sumitomo Corp., made the announcement last week.

Watts, 68, will continue to serve as an advisor to the board.

With the change, Sumitomo Corp. will assume full ownership of Sunstate Equipment, which will continue to be led by Mike Watts' son, Chris Watts, CEO.

Mike Watts started in the rental industry in 1970, working for someone else before he and his wife started Sunstate in 1977 with four employees.

They ultimately grew the business to 61 locations in nine states, becoming the world's 24th-largest rental company. The growth of the business and other contributions to the rental industry earned Watts induction into the American Rental Association's Rental Hall of Fame in 2010. 

“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 caliber of business we have built, and the opportunities for the future," said 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."

Watts added, "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,” he said.