For a man who has created and maintained a thriving tool rental business for the past 25 years, all Al Kimsey can think of is to thank others.
He thanks Wayne Shirey, a man who died last year but who gave Kimsey a start in the business after he graduated from the University of Georgia with an Agriculture-Economics degree. Kimsey, the owner of Madison Rentals on Eatonton Road, started with Shirey in 1994 at Shirey’s United Tool Rental store in Duluth. Business, Kimsey says, was booming.
“It was the fastest growing county in the country,” he says of Gwinnett County in the early 1990s. In 1996, Shirey and Kimsey, a Bostwick native, opened a United Tool Rental Store in Madison. In 2001, Kimsey bought Shirey out of his partnership and changed the name to Madison Rental. He remained close to Shirey until his death last year. “I was very lucky to have known him,” he says.
Madison Rental, located off Eatonton Highway, rents everything from automotive tools to Takeuchi excavators and is also an authorized dealer for Stihl equipment, Hustler lawn mowers and Gravely commercial landscape equipment. The business also has a large inventory of party rental supplies including tents, chairs and concession equipment.
When Madison Rental was struck hard during the great recession from 2008 to 2010, his employee load dropped from its current eight to three, including Kimsey. He thanks his employees, then and now, for keeping him going during those times and thanks family members who had faith and supported his vision. “We were in survivor mode,” he says looking back.
But he did survive and now, he says, Madison Rental is thriving. For more than a decade Madison Rental has seen steady growth as Morgan County grows.
And that’s another group he thanks. “The city of Madison and Morgan County has been great to us,” he says.
So have, he says, other small businesses in the community. Kimsey laughs. “I’ve always said local businesses kind of share the same $100 bill.”
This week, Kimsey and company are celebrating a milestone in perseverance and grit. Since its launch, the business has funded ball teams, provided a reliable source of needed equipment and done so from a man who takes a grounded approach to success and believes in community.
Kimsey said the company and the job allowed him time to spend with family. “I’ve been lucky to raise four kids and work in Madison,” he says. “You can go to a soccer game when you need to, you can take your kid to the doctor if you need to.
“I’ve been very lucky, very fortunate.”