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Benjamin Franklin once said, “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” Perhaps this quote ought to be placed above the front door at Noonan Equipment and Event Rental. For owner and president Matt Noonan, IV, Franklin’s quote has been his mantra for taking out-of-the-box chances with his Springfield, Illinois business.

I am the third generation president and owner of Noonan Equipment and Event Rental,” says Noonan My grandfather started the business 76 years ago. We were in the hardware retail business and rental business for 75 years. We converted six months ago to strictly rental. We’re now in the party, tool and construction rental business.”

We pivoted out of hardware retail because our rental was expanding so much and we wanted to do was concentrate on the party rental, construction, and the general tool rental business.”

Noonan positions his business as Springfield’s premier source for all things rental. But for decades, it was the city’s leading destination for all things hardware.

“My grandfather, the founder of Noonan’s Hardware, was a hard worker. He worked seven days a week. He was very hands on. Back then, there was only one employee and it was him,” recalled Noonan, who remembers the days spent working in the family business which was eventually led by his father. “I remember my dad teaching me, ‘You’ve got to work hard. You’ve got to be in the business. You’ve got to be there working hand in hand with your employees. Honesty. He was big on honesty. Whether it hurt you financially or not. My dad and my grandfather were extremely honest people,” Noonan explained.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Noonan to make an honest assessment of the business and to leave traditional retail for the world of rental. At the hardware store, Noonan’s family used to dabble in tool rental, but he realized he needed to lean in 100 percent on the rental industry to grow.

“I think my grandfather would be extremely proud we went in different directions and didn’t stay in the retail hardware space.”

On the construction side, we rent out virtually anything, from small equipment for local homeowners to construction equipment, including excavators, skid steers, man lifts, scissor lifts, all the way down to the lawn and garden equipment including aerators, dethatches, post diggers, and log splitters,” explains Noonan.

A lot of the equipment we rent doesn’t make sense for a homeowner to purchase,” stated Noonan. “Plus, there are also times one of our construction companies will need an additional piece of equipment or need a certain item that will be used one time only. We’re here to provide it for them.”

Today, Noonan has two business locations in Springfield, but serves a wide swath of central Illinois, whether it is a business with construction needs or a party coordinator planning a wedding.

The customer service we provide is crucial in this business. You have to make sure you’re hitting a time frame for an event, making sure it’s done correctly and in an efficient manner,” explains Noonan.

Noonan has everything needed for events of every size, whether it be fun inflatables for children’s parties, tables, tents, dishware, and drapes for an elegant wedding, or staging, audio, and lighting that might be needed for a weekend festival.

We have roughly 30 employees,” says Noonan. For some employees, this is a first job, all the way up to folks making Noonan Equipment & Event Rental their entire career. One employee was with us for 30 years, and another for 21 years. We’re extremely proud of who works for us; I should say who works side-by-side with us.”

If I could give one piece of advice to a new retailer: don’t be afraid to make drastic changes, whether it is shortening or increasing business hours or going with a new or different product,” says Noonan.

I’d like the people of Illinois to know retail is the heart and soul of this state. At Noonan Rental, we hire a lot of employees. We generate a lot of tax revenue compared to online sales or some of the bigger box stores,” says Noonan. Small business in Illinois creates more than half of the new jobs right now. Retail is important because of the tax dollars being generated, the jobs being provided, and the charity work. A lot of small businesses are contributing to make their communities a better place.”

I love coming to work because it’s a challenge every day,” explains Noonan. I know you hear a lot of people saying that, but when I walk in the door, you never know what you’re going come across that day. We’re helping people who may have a problem. They may have a sewer backed up and we’re helping them get it unclogged. They may have a construction project and we’re here to help give them a solution. It’s the same thing on the party side. It’s great to create something customers want and we see it from beginning to end.”

 I love being a retailer because I’m intrigued with the entrepreneurial spirit,” Noonan says. I like the idea of building something and then seeing how far we can go with it. I’d rather do this than anything else.”

Matt Noonan also realizes with success comes change and he realizes the ability to change is essential to helping Noonan Equipment and Event Rental succeed for years to come.

I’m the type of guy who’s pretty optimistic,” explains Noonan. Growth is great and at the same time, I’m not afraid of change. I know a lot of people in our company believe the same thing.”

Central Illinois

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