2012-01-05 / Front Page

Topsham Rental to be auctioned

BY DARCIE MOORE, Times Record Staff

TOPSHAM RENTAL CENTER is due to be auctioned off later this month. 
TROY R. BENNETT / THE TIMES RECORD TOPSHAM RENTAL CENTER is due to be auctioned off later this month. TROY R. BENNETT / THE TIMES RECORD TOPSHAM — After more than 15 years operating as an equipment and truck rental business, the family-owned Topsham Rental Center was forced to close its doors two days before Christmas.

Owner Len Lyons, who has lived in Topsham with his wife, Ruth, since 1983, remains hopeful that someone will buy and continue to operate the rental center.

Lyons said Wednesday that he and his wife own the majority of stock in the corporation. His daughter and her former husband are minor stock holders.

Lyons opened the business next to the NAPA store on Route 201 in April 1996. In 2005, they built a new facility in the Topsham Fair Mall.

The business moved into its new digs at 214 Topsham Fair Mall Road at the start of 2006 “and was doing fine up until the recession hit,” Lyons said. “When the economy started to slide, we started to see revenue drop.”

The business had a large mortgage, he said, which was highly leveraged, so although the couple tried to maintain the business, they “just couldn’t hold on,” and had to close on Dec. 23.

Lyons acknowledged it was a difficult day, but said “life continues on. You try to deal the best you can with what’s going on. ... There’s no question we put a lot of ourselves into that business.”

What he will do next remains unanswered, because he focused intently on keeping his business afloat up until the end.

“One thing I feel bad about is we’re not there for the people who depended on us for our services,” Lyons said. “It leaves a hole in the community when something like that goes down. And I sincerely hope that somebody can pick it up and continue it.”

He has heard from many people who expressed regret that Topsham Rental Center will no longer be there, Lyons said.

“I really appreciate all of the relationships we developed with our customers,” Lyons said. “ That’s a good part of the business as well.”

Bank of Maine, which holds the mortgage on the property, ordered an auction, which has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 19, according to Lyons. People can view the property and equipment that morning at 8 a.m., or from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. today.

Lyons said the 3.6-acre parcel has full utilities access. The six-year-old building is an 8,000- square- foot metal structure, which is heated by natural gas.

Keenan Auction Co. of South Portland will conduct the auction. The company lists additional information about the auction on its website, www.keenanauction.com.

At the Route 201 location, Topsham Rental Center rented its own equipment and served as an agent for Penske Truck Rental, for which they received a commission. The business continued this at the new facility, as well as selling propane.

Once in the new building, Topsham Rental became a dealer for KIOTI tractors and for the commercial-grade Country Clipper Zero Turn riding mowers. The firm also incorporated a retail business, including selling a full line of Husqvarna products.

Starting two years ago, Topsham Rental became an agent for Cruise America recreational vehicles, offering rental of 25-foot and 30-foot RVs.

Lyons said the decrease in construction caused by the economic recession hurt Topsham Rental, which depended in large part on small and mid-sized contractors to rent equipment. But in the last couple of months, this side of the business improved, according to Lyons.

“We had developed a pretty good business there, and I think it can be viable,” Lyons said.



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