Robert Glass was just 9 years old when his dad, A.T. "Red" Glass moved the family to Brandon from Houston in 1970, settling on a piece of property off South Bell Shoals Road.
Glass remembered that his dad was in the process of renovating an 1800s shotgun cabin on the property when contractor Bill Hutch Craft suggested he rent a generator for the project at Brandon Rental.
"That was the first time Red had been exposed to the concept of 'rental,' " Glass said.
Two years later, the owner of Brandon Rental, Phil Tuvell, died in a tragic accident while loading a small bulldozer.
A year later, in February 1973, Red Glass purchased the business from his widow.
Red Glass' wife, Nell, and oldest son, Ron, handled the day-to-day operations while Red preferred to remain in the background, establishing company policies and customer service procedures (many of which are still in effect today), said Robert Glass, who was 11 years old at the time and worked at the business after school, on Saturdays and during the summers.
In 1975, Brandon Rental moved to Robertson Street in Brandon and Red Glass' son-in-law, Harold "Skip" Wholes, became manager, allowing Nell Glass to return to concentrate on raising her six children. Shortly after, Brandon Rental became the first STIHL Outdoor Power Equipment dealer in the Brandon area.
By 1981, Robert Glass, demonstrating a passion for the family business, was named chief of operations.
Under his leadership, the family opened the location at 6801 U.S. 301 in Riverview. Two years later, Brandon Rental bought out its competitor in Seffner, General Rental, and began operating in the Seffner area as well. Brandon Rental moved to its current Seffner location at 436 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in 1992.
Robert Glass eventually was promoted to president and, in 2006, Red Glass officially turned the business over to his son.
However, Robert Glass said the business would never have been so successful without his father's guidance.
"Red always advocated excellent customer service, which obviously gets return business, and word-of-mouth advertising," said Robert Glass. "One of Red's favorite sayings was: Build a good organization and the organization will build the business."
With that in mind, Robert Glass said he has always strived for a family-oriented work environment, which facilitates employee retention and, in turn, makes for a knowledgeable staff that is able to offer the good customer service his father stressed.
"Many of our employees have been with Brandon Rental over 20 years," he said. "That’s 100 years cumulative and growing each year because we have little employee turnover."
Glass is also quick to express his gratitude to the community and his customers, some of which have been using Brandon Rental for decades.
"Brandon and the surrounding communities have been a great place to live and grow," he said.
To celebrate Brandon Rental's 40th anniversary, the staff will host a customer appreciation party Saturday, March 30 from 11 to 4 p.m. at the Riverview location, 6801 U.S. 301, and the Seffner location, 436 W. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
"This is a thank-you party for buying and promoting our products and services, for putting up with the occasional growing pains, and just for helping put Brandon Rental on the map," said Glass. "The future looks bright, and we want to acknowledge your contribution to this rosy outlook."
The party will include food for 40 cents, drinks, music, games, a bounce house, giveaways and specials.
Customers who book a rental the day of the party will receive 10 percent off their reservation through October and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Brandon Foundation Charities.
Also that day, starting at 8:30 a.m., Brandon Rental will host a community yard sale.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 813-654-7368.