United Rentals chairman steps down as chief executive officer

Brad Jacobs announced Tuesday he will step down as chief executive officer of United Rentals at the end of the year.

Jacobs plans to stay involved in the company, however, by continuing to serve as executive chairman. Wayland Hicks, the current vice chairman and chief operating officer, will succeed Jacobs as chief executive. Michael Kneeland will assume the newly created position of executive vice president — operations.

Jacobs and seven others started United Rentals in 1997.

“I’m gratified that the company we started around my dining room table six years ago has grown into North America’s leading equipment company,” Jacobs said. “It has been a privilege to help build United Rentals. I will be leaving management of the company in the hands of two friends and colleagues who will be instrumental to United Rental’s success.”

Hicks joined the company in 1997 and became vice chairman in 1998. Since its inception, the company has grown to serve approximately 1.7 million customers and rent more than 600 types of equipment at approximately 750 locations.

Jacobs said he now hopes to build other businesses in different industries. Prior to creating United Rentals, Jacobs founded United Waste Systems in 1989.