by Brian Beaudry, NI Content Generator
How old is Point of Rental?
Well, it’s more complex than I thought. When I joined Point of Rental in 2016, I immersed myself in the company’s history to try to get a sense of its values, its story, and its voice.
I found this blog touting the creation of our first software in 1983. Amazing, I thought, having been born in 1983 myself. I’ll always know how old I am by what anniversary I’m touting that year.
I merrily included 1983 in our website, our brochures, and other documents as our founding date.
In 2018, we ran with our 35th anniversary celebrations. I knew when we were sharing 35th anniversary cups at our ARA Show stand in New Orleans, and with every ad we put out, that I would be turning 35 that year.
So you can imagine my lack of enthusiasm when our Director of Philanthropy, Terry Harris, pointed out in December that technically our 40th anniversary was coming up in 2022. I just got into the Young Professionals Network and now I’m turning 40? It’s like I’m skipping my senior year of college to join the NFL, but without a multi-million dollar pay raise – I’m just not ready.
Why 1982? She presented compelling reasons, such as founding documents; I turned to philosophy in an attempt to maintain my (and Point of Rental’s) youth, asking deep questions, like:
When do you really become you?
I just brought up the NFL; the league provides an interesting example of how to handle your founding date.
According to the official record book, the Cleveland Browns were founded in 1946. Of course, the team famously moved to Baltimore, becoming the Ravens in 1996, but the Browns’ name and history stayed with the city of Cleveland. The expansion team, created in 1999, inherited the original team’s history and is considered to have been founded in 1946 – they celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2021. If you look even further into things, they were established on June 4, 1944, and didn’t play their first game until 1946.
The United States, where our headquarters is located, has some similar confusion regarding its independence: Independence Day is officially July 4, 1776. But the Declaration of Independence was written and first published on July 2; most historians believe it wasn’t signed until August of the same year, and the war confirming independence didn’t end until Sept. 3, 1783. July 4 is just the date printed on the first broadsheets that included the full text of the Declaration.
So there’s plenty of precedent set that a “founding” date is fungible. As a person, though, I think we tend to stick with only one “founding” day: Our birthday.
And in that respect, Point of Rental’s founding date seems pretty clear: Overland Rentals, the company our founders created when building their rental store, was founded on April 5, 1982. There’s even official documentation:
But wait – what makes you you?
As you can tell by looking around our website, we’re a rental software company, not a rental store. Overland Rentals was founded as a rental store. While it’s changed its name, that rental store even still exists today! Doesn’t April 5, 1982 really belong to Rental Stop, not us?
Well, you can rely on “the spirit of things” when you’re establishing a founding date for your business, as we saw in the cases of the Browns and America, but changing what you produce doesn’t change when you were founded.
3M was founded as a mining venture in 1902. They were going to mine for corundum and manufacture sandpaper and grinding wheels for sale. What they actually mined was anorthosite, and that didn’t work for what they were manufacturing, so they pivoted and started working with other materials and making different products. They still celebrate 1902 as their founding.
Nintendo was a playing card company that got into a lot of other industries before discovering video games. Nokia was founded in 1865 as a paper mill. Wrigley used to sell people on its baking powder by including some chewing gum; eventually, the chewing gum became the business.
Even one of our customers, North London Plant Hire, started business as a window-cleaning company 100 years ago.
And because Overland Rentals became Point-of-Rental Systems and then Point of Rental Software, we own that extra year of history.
So how old is Point of Rental?
It turns out that “the law” and “the definitions of words” don’t care too much about philosophy. Because Overland Rentals grew up and morphed into us, Point of Rental Software, we were founded on April 5, 1982.
We’ve been living a…well, not a lie: Our software really was born in 1983. But yes, we were founded in 1982. And, unlike people, who seem to turn 39 years old more times than you’d expect…as a company, we’re delighted to be turning 40.
So happy 40th anniversary, Point of Rental!
If you notice any rogue “founded in 1983”s on our printed materials or on our website throughout the year, let us know about it at [email protected] and we’ll work to set things right.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go back and check my birth certificate to remind myself that I’m still in my 30s.