Biz Buzz, Nov. 14, 2013

After 52 years in business, nearly all of those at 1162 Gunnison Ave., Barry Newman of Len’s Rent All finally decided to retire.

“I’m telling everybody I’m going to spend the next year doing whatever I want,” Newman said. “After that, my wife (Sharron Newman) has already informed me that she’ll kill me unless I get out of the house.”

Over five decades, the Newman family rented nearly everything to nearly everybody in Grand Junction — from forklifts, scissor lifts, skid loaders, track hoes, paint sprayers, scaffolding, roto-tillers, mowers, lawn aerators, power rakes and trenchers all the way down to fancy plates for a party.

Newman said much of the equipment, especially that used by contractors, has already been sold, but an auction on Saturday that starts at 10 a.m. aims to clear the floor of whatever is left, from lawn and gardening equipment to party items.

Newman said he also plans to sell the corner property where the business is situated. Newman’s father, Len, namesake of the landmark rental shop, started the business with Newman’s mother, Allene, in October 1961. Len Newman died 15 years ago, Newman said.

Barry Newman worked with his parents in the shop from the time it first opened.

“When my father started it, it was just him and my mother and me, as the oldest,” Newman said. “I didn’t assume I was going to end up taking over, I was just raised that way. I was raised, basically, that I was going to end up doing this my entire life.”

In 1968, Len Newman expanded the business and extended the building to its present location by purchasing the two lots closest to 12th Street and occupying the corner.

“We didn’t have the big contractors equipment when we started,” Barry Newman said. “We were into homeowner equipment and party rental.”

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Newmans, trading across the street from Lincoln Park, rented out two-seater bicycles, first at the rate of 25 cents per hour and later for 50 cents per hour.

Newman said his fondest memories of the business include working side-by-side with his parents and meeting so many “wonderful customers.”

“We’ve been really lucky with our employees, too. Our latest mechanic (Bob Weller), he’s worked with us for 26 years. The reason he’s stuck around so long is because I have him hog-tied,” Newman said.

“The last two or three years with the economy falling like it is my income has fallen and I just decided it’s time for me to retire. I’ve saved for this opportunity ... and I just figured it was time. I’m happy. I really am happy.”

George Decker started Decker Calendar Company in 1985, creating calendars on his home computer that featured pictures of wild horses he photographed near Grand Junction.

Over the years, Decker upgraded the calendars he printed at home until finally, this year, he decided to have them printed professionally by Precision Printing of Grand Junction.

A fourth generation Coloradan, Decker was raised on a cattle ranch 60 miles north of Glenwood.

“I didn’t know there was anything but a cow and horse until I was 20,” Decker said. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Decker ran the Gay Johnson’s truck stop in De Beque Canyon for many years.

Decker’s 2013 line of products includes four different calendars, one featuring wild horses, one American Indian rock art, one showing different styles of wickiups and one that includes a variety of vintage, archived photos showing pioneers and pioneer lifestyles from his personal collection.

Decker said he has traveled many miles on foot, on horseback and in a four-wheel-drive vehicle to accumulate the photos. His idea was to publish calendars using photos from his many travels and experiences.

Decker’s wild horse photos were taken of animals living in the refuge on the Bookcliffs north of Grand Junction.

Decker’s photos of Ute wickiups, some still standing from the 1880s, were taken after many years of searching on horseback for abandoned villages in “very remote” locations inside the Uncompahgre Wilderness Area. 

“There’s nothing that gets your adrenaline and excitement going more than when you finally find one,” Decker said. 

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