Powertool and Equipment Rental, the history
Success for a brother and sister act
Woburn Advocate – November 19, 1992
By Joseph Daniel McCool
For those Woburn residents who were around for the strong hurricane that ripped through large portions of Middlesex County in 1952, the dominant recollection probably involves fallen trees or downed power lines.
But Jane and Paul Gillespie, brother-and-sister owners of Rental Service, Inc., remember that violent storm as the starting point of their family business.
“My father was managing a local gas station at that time,” Jane Gillespie recalls. “After the storm, my father went out and bought a chain saw to help with the cleanup process. After the storm, he realized the need for some of this equipment and he began the business. Later he bought a lawn mower and then moved on to power tools.”
Stan Gillespie’s idea soon turned into a business called Power Tool and Equipment Rental Company. Today, Stan’s son and daughter run Rental Service, Inc., an umbrella business that includes the business their father started as well as Festive Occasions, which focuses on party rental services.
Although Paul had worked for some years with his father, Jane’s professional introduction to the business came in 1982, when she and her brother took over the business and added Festive Occasions.
At the time, Jane was employed in planning and manufacturing capacities for a local medical supply company. “I think my father wanted to be an equal opportunity father,” says Jane. “He suggested I take a look at the business to see if it was something I might like to get involved with.”
And since that day, she’s never looked back. Festive Occasions has become an example of what a party accessory rental operation should be,” says her proud brother Paul. “Because of her efforts, she’s become highly respected by our industry.”
Jane, who graduated from Woburn High School five years after Paul in 1975, has also earned the respect of the local business community, as evidenced by the Woburn Business Association’s selection of her as “Business Person of the Year for 1992.
Among Jane’s other involvements are membership in the Middlesex Lions Club, the Woburn Republican City Committee and the Woburn Planning Board. In addition, she serves as the legislative chair for the American Rental Association of Massachusetts and is also a past president of the same body.
Brother Paul is equally capable, though he prefers to work behind the scenes and support the civic activities of his sister/partner. While Jane works to manage many of the administrative aspects of their two businesses, Paul’s external role involves the formulation of national and international business relationships and sales functions.
In his spare time, Paul likes to find serenity in a hobby likely spurred by his study of biology at Nasson College in Maine.
“I’m an avid horticulturist,” says Paul, a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s amateur horticulture committee.
“He’s one of the best floral designers in this area. It’s a very creative hobby for him,” says Jane, noting that her brother’s work was featured in the Museum of Fine Arts “Arts in Bloom Exposition” that was held last May.
Although the two have different professional and personal interests, they agree that working with family can, at times, be a challenge. “We each bring things to the business,” says Paul. “I think we complement each other very well; we have the ability to look at business situations from different perspectives.”
As they point out the importance of maintaining their close relationship, the Gillespies draw a similar parallel to the relationship between Woburn’s residential and business communities.
“They can’t survive without each other. There has to be a peaceful co-existence between residents and local businesses. We can’t do business without community support, and without the community realizing how it is helped by the business presence in the city,” says Paul.
They also find common ground when discussing their belief that there is a real crisis in the American governmental system.
“I’m concerned with our political and legal systems,” says Jane. “They’re not functioning to the benefit of the people. We have the best system in the world, but it’s just not working for the citizens of the United States.”
But if her activism on the local civic scene – highlighted by her many years of service on the Planning Board – is any indication of the progress that has been made in municipal government, there’s no doubt that things can get better for the larger American legal system.