Mahaffey Blog

Mahaffey USA to join forces with leading equipment rental company in North America, Sunbelt Rentals, Inc.



MEMPHIS, Tenn.— For nearly 100 years, Mahaffey has been providing large-scale temporary fabric structures for businesses across the country – from temporary warehouses and aviation hangars to fire stations and blast-resistant structures – all managed from the company’s Memphis headquarters. Mahaffey USA has been acquired by Sunbelt Rentals. Terms of the deal were not released.

Mahaffey USA is the nation’s leader of temporary and semi-permanent structures, providing solutions for the largest projects in the country, including base camps for the military, warehouses and storage for clients needing on-site space quickly, site covers for the construction industry and production space for manufacturers. Customers include FedEx, Fluor, the U.S. Army, BP, Exxon, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Pfizer.

“We are excited about this partnership that signals a big, bright future for Mahaffey USA,” said William Pretsch, chairman of the board for the family-owned company. “The large structures we’re famous for are the perfect complement to the broad lineup of products and specialty services Sunbelt Rentals provides.

“Selecting the right buyer was an important part of the process for our family business. We have worked closely with Sunbelt over the years, and their reputation for doing what they say they are going to do went a long way in helping us make our decision.”

Because the business is unlike anything else at Sunbelt, Mahaffey USA will retain its leadership team and Memphis support center. George Smith, president of Mahaffey USA, will remain with the company to ensure a smooth transition.

“This is a proud day for the employees of Mahaffey,” said Smith. “Together we have built a business that attracted the attention of the country’s leading equipment rental company. Our associates at every level have contributed to this phenomenal success, and I am excited for them. This is a tremendous opportunity for our people and our company to continue the incredible growth we have experienced over the last decade.”

While Mahaffey USA is commercial- and industrial-focused, the consumer party- and event-focused Mahaffey Event and Tent Rentals LLC is not part of the transaction and will remain a stand-alone business serving the special events market in Memphis and the Mid-South.

Mahaffey history

In 1924, Memphis brothers Owen, Gene and Earl Mahaffey started making canvas tarpaulins, awnings and sacks used to hold cotton as it was harvested by hand.

In 1929 a customer asked the brothers to make a tent. They obliged, but the client failed to pick it up. The tent remained unused until the Mahaffey brothers received a call from the Tri-State Fair, predecessor to the Mid-South Fair. That became their first tent rental, and the next phase of Mahaffey Fabric Structures was underway.

In World War II, Mahaffey put aside tent rentals as the U.S. Army contracted the job of making hospital ward tents and ammunition bags to the company. Mahaffey shipped a boxcar of tents each week. That remained the sole job of the company for the duration of the war.

In 1972, William F. Pretsch purchased the company from the Mahaffey family when the owner, Eldred “Red” Mahaffey, died in a private airplane accident. Pretsch had traveled to Europe, where he had seen a new clearspan structure, a column-free framing system ideal for steel barns, warehouses, airplane hangars and temporary lunch and break areas. Mahaffey was the first to introduce clearspan structures to America in 1982.

There was a transfer from one generation to the next as William J. Pretsch and George Smith, his brother-in-law, purchased the company in 2011. In 2015, Mahaffey engineered and installed the first blast-resistant tent in North America.

Today Mahaffey is a mainstay of the Memphis business community from the company’s headquarters on Delp Street. Mahaffey serves customers throughout North America, Mexico, the Caribbean and beyond, installing more than 400 fabric structures in a typical year.

Mahaffey USA has a massive inventory of structure solutions ready for immediate dispatch and can install up to 10,000 square feet a day via a talented team of 18 construction crews nationwide.

About Sunbelt Rentals, Inc.

Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ashtead Group plc (London Stock Exchange: ASHTY), is the leading equipment rental company in North America. Sunbelt Rentals provides equipment rentals for the industrial, construction, municipal and DIY markets from its national network of locations.

About Mahaffey USA

Mahaffey USA was founded in 1924 in Memphis, which remains home to the company’s headquarters. Operating throughout North America and the Caribbean, Mahaffey stands up more than 400 large-scale temporary fabric structures per year. Fabric solutions help customers avoid the long-term hassles associated with brick-and-mortar real estate and can be easily removed when they are no longer needed. Mahaffey USA employs 125 people in Memphis, all of whom will become Sunbelt Rentals’ employees.

Topics: Industry News