Editorial: The more things change…

The more they stay the same.

It’s an exciting time in the equipment rental world. Industry watchers are predicting a rosy run for the next several years as contractors increasingly decide to rent the use of specialized equipment instead of purchasing it as an asset. The American Rental Association has predicted that the rental industry will continue to grow at a four to five percent clip annually through this decade and will reach $59.4 billion by 2021.

That attractive growth bodes well for rental centers of all sizes. It’s also likely to attract investors interested in acquiring small- to medium-sized rental centers in an attempt to roll them up and turn them for a nice, but often, substantial profit.

I’ve seen this happen in the publishing industry when bean counters redirected company vision and momentum from a customer-first culture to a bottom-line culture. Many fortunes were made and many lost as publishing continues to redefine itself in the changing multi-media market.

Our featured rental center, High Reach 2, knows how attractive buyouts can be to savvy owners who are committed to the rental industry. After High Reach was purchased in 1998 by NationsRent, a short four years later, the company was back in business after the rolled-up NationsRent filed for bankruptcy. Today, the reemerging High Reach 2 has more than 3,000 pieces of rental equipment, profitably serving customers out of its four Florida branches.

Successful rental centers remain so because they keep a mindful eye on the bottom line, but keep customer service and support front and center in the company’s vision. Unfortunately, in buyouts headed by bookkeepers and accountants, customer service and support tend to get left in the dust; then customers quickly make tracks to other rental centers that solve problems, not create them.

Those rental centers that sustain and even expand their customer-first focus will continue to thrive. While it’s a very competitive rental market in most parts of the country, the changing needs of contractors for equipment is still grounded in the same need: reliable equipment, at a fair rental rate, that solves some temporary problem or need.

If you’re proud of your rental center, please contact me at I’d certainly like to learn more about your operation and perhaps share it with our 13,500-plus readers of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine.


Clair Urbain, Editor
Pro Contractor Rentals magazine