If your grandparents owned a popular clothing line and your dad was the founder of a commercial bakery, what type of business would you be in? That is exactly what The Orange County Register asked Robert Gray. I’ll give you a hint, it has nothing to do with what they’ve done.

[T]he answer is an Internet equipment rental portal called RentalHawk in Newport Beach. Still in its early stages, RentalHawk lists 300 types of the most commonly rented equipment, with the emphasis on construction, from floor polishers to 1,000-watt generators offered by rental companies in 14 states. The goal is nationwide reach and anything that can be rented.

Grandparents Marie and Robert Gray started St. John Knits, designer women’s clothing and accessories, in Irvine. Dad Michael Gray founded Sweet Life Enterprises in Santa Ana.

Grandparents Marie and Robert Gray started St. John Knits, designer women’s clothing and accessories, in Irvine. Dad Michael Gray founded Sweet Life Enterprises in Santa Ana.

Gray consulted with his dad about the idea, wrote a business plan and since starting RentalHawk has re-invented and tweaked the concept several times in response to rental companies and searching customers.

Sometimes, it’s a fine balance between the two.The service is free for renters, and rental companies pay a flat fee, not a commission.

“Rental companies want to capture new customers, but don’t want to come across as discounting prices. Customers can haggle but companies won’t advertise that,” Gray says.

On RentalHawk, customers can sort by type of equipment needed and distance from the work site, but not by price. They can also see one-to-five-star ratings and read reviews about companies’ reliability and service.

Logo from RentalHawk