For more than a decade, Michael Flannery has led the evolution and growth of United Rentals.
By all measures, the provider of rental equipment is a juggernaut. In 2014, United Rentals joined the S&P 500 and the Fortune 500. From 2009-2022, it doubled its employee count and now has more than 22,000 workers. Last year, the company brought in over $11.4 billion, giving it an estimated 17% market share in equipment rental. These figures are made more impressive by the fact that United Rentals started with no revenue 25 years ago. For most of that time, Flannery has been a key driving force behind his organization's explosive growth.
Flannery joined United Rentals in 1998, having been introduced to the equipment rental industry in 1991, when he started working in sales for Connecticut-based McClinch Equipment Services. United Rentals acquired McClinch in February 1998 and Flannery stayed with the company. Since then, he has worked his way up the corporate hierarchy, acquiring extensive experience in all areas of the company's operations.
After starting with various field management roles at senior, regional, district, and branch levels, he continued to move up the food chain. In addition to chief operating officer, he previously served in two regional vice president roles in aerial operations, before being named President in March 2018, and President and CEO in May 2019.
Asked his thoughts on why his company has realized so much success, Flannery believes there's one magic ingredient: people.
In a November 2022 interview, the CEO explained, "Anybody with money can buy equipment, but it is the people who deploy it as we grow and focus on growing customer service. All employees — whether it is corporate employees who support the branch network or the line people who drive the trucks or fix equipment — play a big component . . . It’s not just equipment and facilities, but the people who are the underlying value and their relationships with customers."
Flannery earned a degree in finance from Hofstra University, where he also played on the football team. He now does a lot of coaching and calls his experience in competitive sports “a great teacher for life lessons and leadership.”