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As enduring as ABC

Beloved Coast rental business still going strong after 55 years

When Charlie Delk made the fateful decision to enter the rental business, he was married with two young children and a corporate job in the oil industry.

His friend and work colleague got involved in the A to Z Rental franchise, which piqued Delk’s interest and inspired him to follow suit. In 1968, he quit his job in Donaldsonville, La., and relocated to the Coast, where he and his wife had honeymooned, to launch his business.

Charlie and Rose Mary Delk on the 1978 opening day of ABC Rental’s Bay St. Louis location.
1978 grand opening of ABC Rental Bay St. Louis

“He thought, ‘One store is great, and I hope it works,” recounts his son, David Delk, of the first location on Pass Road. “Then we opened another on 10 years later, and another one 10 years later from the second one. Then the party/event business exploded.”

Today the company, ABC Rental Centers, is a local institution — providing a wide range of tools and machinery and all manner of party equipment and supplies. As the business marks its 55th anniversary on Sept. 1, Delk reflects on how much it has grown and changed.


Now co-owner of the company, Delk began his career at ABC Rental Centers at a young age, coming in on Saturdays to help his dad clean the showroom and perform other odd jobs. As a teenager, he also worked during the summer and went on to hold numerous positions, including delivery driver, counter sales associate, assistant manager and manager.

David Delk (left) and his dad, Charlie (right) enjoy their weekly meal at El Mexicano Restaurant in Gulfport — a tradition they’ve maintained for 30 years.

“I’m glad this business wasn’t given to me,” Delk says. “I had to work my way up the ladder and was not afraid to step in to do what I could to help — delivering, setting up a tent … anything.”

Shortly after its founding, ABC Rental got a huge boost when Hurricane Camille devastated the Coast.

“She is the strongest hurricane ever to hit the U.S., and we were there at the right time to be able to help people out.” Charlie Delk has said.

In 1971, he severed ties with the A to Z operation and renamed his company ABC Rental Centers. The company benefited from a surge in the party/event business in the late 1990s, when customers started requesting more specialty colors and items.

“Instead of having the Coast go out of state for those rentals, we kept adding, and now we’re the largest on the Mississippi Gulf Coast — servicing the lower three counties,” Delk says. “We continue to add new items to keep up with the trends.”


The elder Delk passed the business down to his son in 2002, and a few years later, another major storm made the business indispensable to the local community. The day after Hurricane Katrina struck, all ABC Rental locations were open with lines out the door.

“(Customers) needed generators, ladders — anything to survive,” Delk says. “We had a manager at our Bay St. Louis location who lost everything, yet he moved into the store, which flooded, to live for a month, helping anybody who walked in or knocked on the door.”

ABC Rental Center Gulfport circa 2014

That extra effort, along with honesty, good equipment and great customer service, has ensured the company’s longevity, according to Delk. His dad, now 94, never retired and is going strong, too — regularly popping by to keep an eye on things.

Outside of work, Delk and his family also are known for supporting the arts and several nonprofits, including the Kiwanis Club. They have parlayed that trust and name recognition into a clientele representing all walks of life — from homeowners and businesses needing equipment to brides and Mardi Gras krewes planning unforgettable events.

“We’re proud that our loyal patrons and community keep returning to us,” Delk says. “We are so blessed and lucky to be part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and we love it.”

ABC Rental Centers

3000 Hewes Ave.
(228) 864-5361
Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-noon; closed Sunday

Bay St. Louis
1190 U.S. 90
(228) 467-1081
Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-noon; closed Sunday

Ocean Springs
3399 Bienville Blvd.
(228) 872-5577
Monday-Friday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-noon; closed Sunday

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