The rental industry had its beginnings in California at the end of World War II. Although some rental activity had taken place in the 1930s, it was post-war California that was the breeding ground for the new industry.
At this time, California experienced an influx of population, with most of that growth fueled by younger families who came to the West coast for what they saw as a land of new opportunities.
Consequently, housing starts flourished and businesses sprung up all over. Although construction was at an all-time high, contractor and homeowner equipment was in short supply because of the war.
As a solution to the age-old economic problem of supply and demand, the California rental industry was able to provide the equipment needed.
CRA pioneers Palmer Grasse, Sam Greenberg, Jack Wanamaker and Bob Irvine were among the first in California to start successful trailer rental businesses by renting used equipment on vacant lots. The rental idea spread quickly.
The California Trailer and Rental Yard Association, CTRYA, was begun in 1946 by eleven of the "trailer guys" who saw the need for an organization to protect and develop California's young rental industry. Several years later the Northern Equipment Rental Association joined the CTRYA. CTRYA became the California Rental Association in 1961.
As the rental industry grew, so did CRA. To keep up with the growing needs of rental businesses, CRA successfully implemented several group member insurance plans; a scholarship foundation was developed to provide funds for rental industry-related education; a political action committee was created to protect the industry's legislative interests; and Western Rental Sales was formed to develop discount buying programs for rental businesses. The first CRA convention held in 1963 in Long Beach, CA, provided members the opportunity to market their products, network and attend educational seminars.
From the beginning, the goals of the California Rental Association have been "to foster and maintain high standards and ethical practices in the rental industry in California... To encourage and maintain a spirit of harmony and cooperation among its members and in their labor relations... To promote and inspire public esteem for our industry."
Sixty years after its humble beginning, the rental industry has grown into a multimillion dollar business and has had a tremendous impact on California's economy. And for those 60 years, CRA has worked to increase the public's awareness of the rental industry and provide ongoing services and support for its members.