United Rentals Inc. (NYSE: URI), the world’s largest equipment rental company, on Jan. 8 announced that its board of directors has appointed Matthew Flannery, the company’s president and chief operating officer, to become chief executive officer, while retaining the role as president. Additionally, the board has appointed Michael Kneeland, the current chief executive officer, to become non-executive chairman. Bobby Griffin, a 10-year member of the board and chairman of the Strategy Committee, will become lead independent director.
The appointments become effective at the company’s annual meeting of stockholders on May 8, 2019, when Chairman Jenne Britell and CEO Michael Kneeland will step down from their respective positions.
Britell, Kneeland and Flannery have led the evolution and growth of United Rentals for more than a decade. Since 2009, the company has nearly doubled in size to approximately 1,200 locations with 18,800 employees and annual revenue of more than $7.8 billion. In that time, the company has successfully integrated numerous acquisitions, significantly expanded its strategically important specialty rental offering, and effected a cultural transformation that has elevated employee engagement, safety, innovation and customer service. The company joined the S&P and Fortune 500 in 2014, and over the 10-year period ended Dec. 31, 2018, generated a total stockholder return of 1008%, outperforming the S&P 500 index by 830 basis points over the same period.
During her tenure with United Rentals, Dr. Britell was named the 2011 Director of the Year by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), which cited her board leadership qualities, financial expertise and strategic decision-making.
Flannery has more than two decades of executive experience in the equipment rental industry, including over 20 years with United Rentals. He has served as the company’s president since March 2018, and as chief operating officer since 2012. In these roles, Flannery has led the execution of the company’s growth strategy, resulting in significant organic expansion and the successful integration of more than a dozen acquisitions. He previously served as executive vice president–operations and sales, and senior vice president–operations east, following region and district management roles. Flannery joined United Rentals in 1998 upon the company’s acquisition of McClinch Equipment.
Kneeland’s more than 35 years of experience in the equipment rental industry include leadership positions with private, public and investor-owned companies. He joined United Rentals in 1998. Kneeland has served as chief executive officer and director since 2008, and also served as president from 2008 to March 2018. Earlier, he held a number of senior positions, including executive vice president–operations. Prior to United Rentals, Kneeland served in executive roles with Free State Industries Inc. and Equipment Supply Company, the largest aerial equipment rental provider in North America when it was acquired by United Rentals. In addition to serving on the board of United Rentals, Kneeland is a director of YRC Worldwide Inc. and Anticimex Group.
Griffin became a director of the company in January 2009, and currently chairs the Strategy Committee. Prior to retiring from his executive career, Griffin held senior leadership positions during 21 years with Ryder System Inc., most recently as president–international operations from 2005 to 2007. Earlier, he served as executive vice president–international operations, and as executive vice president–global supply chain operations. Prior to Ryder, Griffin was an executive at ATE Management and Service Company Inc., which was acquired by Ryder in 1986. In addition to serving on the board of United Rentals, he is a director of Hanesbrands Inc., WESCO International Inc. and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc.