Reaching high at High Reach 2

Focus is on having the right models ready to go.

By Clair Urbain

High Reach 2 lead photo
“High Reach 2 focuses on Genie and JLG telehandlers and aerial work platforms, Toyota industrial lift trucks and Yanmar small excavators, which were recently added to the fleet of more than 3,000 pieces of rental equipment,” says Lance Renzulli, owner of High Reach 2 based in Sanford, Florida.
Lance Renzulli

Lance Renzulli, CEO of High Reach 2, has been involved with aerial lift rental since at age 13. The Renzullis rebuilt the firm after NationsRent purchased the original company in 1998. NationsRent declared bankruptcy in 2001; they reopened the business as high Reach 2 in 2003.

High Reach 2 telehandler fleet

Telehandlers are popular rental items for High Reach 2. The company cycles them through the fleet slightly faster than aerial work platforms because renters tend to put more hours on them more quickly.

Fast equipment turnaround

High Reach 2 makes it a priority to get equipment that has gone off rent back to the branch as soon as possible so it can be inspected, washed and serviced and ready to go out on rent again. High Reach 2 aims for 85 percent utilization.

Lance Renzulli has been involved with the aerial work platform business nearly all of his life. He started working in his father’s aerial work platform business in Orlando, Florida, at the age of 13 and by the age of 26, became president of the firm in 1995.

“My father, Rodger, started working in the aerial work platform business in 1974 and bought the company, High Reach in 1978,” recalls Renzulli. He built it into a four-branch business throughout the Florida peninsula.

In 1998, when buy-ups of small, independent rental centers by national chains were all the rage, Lance’s father sold the operation to NationsRent while Lance remained an employee of the Sanford location. About a year and a half into Lance’s four-year contract, his position was eliminated. By 2001, the facility went from 75 employees to approximately 10 employees; then NationsRent declared bankruptcy.

Rodger still owned the properties, and NationsRent always remained current on rent. By 2003, leases were expiring and NationsRent wanted to go from a five-year to a one-year lease. Coincidentally, the Renzullis’ non-compete agreements were set to expire, and former employees started visiting with them about reopening.

“In the meantime, we started building and renting self-storage facilities. It was fun at first, but once the facilities were built, it became boring. I started doing some research on aerial equipment rental rates, who’s doing what and I started putting pen to paper and by the end of the third quarter of 2003, we got our facilities back and we reopened as High Reach 2,” Lance says.

Eight former employees who were with the NationsRent facility came back to work for High Reach 2. “Most of them are still with us today,” Renzulli says.

Once the Renzullis were back in the facilities, they completely remodeled them and replaced everything from top to bottom. Today, the well-kept facilities have the look and feel of top-notch aircraft maintenance facilities.

Specialty rental center

Today, High Reach 2 has five locations: Sanford, which is the company headquarters that also serves the Orlando area; Tampa, Deerfield Beach, Jacksonville and Ocala. “We have 192 full-time and five part-time employees. We don’t have much employee turnover,” says Renzulli.

The rental center has just over 3,000 pieces of rental equipment that includes rough-terrain telehandlers, rough-terrain aerial work platforms, scissor lifts and industrial lift trucks. The aerial equipment is exclusively Genie and JLG equipment; the industrial lift trucks are Komatsu and Toyota models.

Recently, Renzulli added 26 Yanmar compact excavators to the rental fleet. “It’s just one of those pieces of equipment you see on many job sites and typically go early onto the job site like rough-terrain telehandlers. It is taking time for some of our sales team to get the excavators in their mindset, but a few salespeople who have come from more general rental houses have adapted to offering them to customers,” Renzulli says.

In 2017, High Reach 2 hit $58 million in gross revenue, up from $52 million in 2016. “We’ve roughly been up 12 percent, 17 percent and 9 percent over the last three years on rental revenue and total revenue is very similar because our used equipment sales are pretty consistent.”

Equipment utilization is consistently about 80 percent and Renzulli aims for a utilization rate of 85 percent or higher. “To realize that kind of utilization, our equipment must be in great condition. Right now, we have about 30 pieces that are down hard that need major repairs. We spend quite a bit of money on repair and maintenance; we don’t cut corners on it,” Renzulli says.

High Reach 2 uses an interesting way to prorate rental fees. Instead of charging a flat, higher daily fee to a renter who has a unit out on rent at a monthly rate, High Reach 2 prorates the daily fee over one month at 1/28 of the monthly fee. “It’s a big savings for our customers and also, in our opinion, allows a customer to not be rushed or forced to get a machine turned in to meet the deadline and avoid the short rate,” Renzulli says.

When a customer is finished with a piece of equipment, High Reach 2 staff does its best to pick up equipment within 24 hours. If a renter calls a piece of equipment off rent early enough in the day, and it is a model that is in high demand, they get it back to the rental yard the same day, get it checked out, maintained and ready to rent again.

Equipment resale
Renzulli says its aerial work platforms yield their highest resale value typically at five years of age and they also get highest resale value at four years for rough-terrain telehandlers. “Telehandlers typically tend to get more hours on them faster than aerial lifts. However, we also have some aerial lifts in our fleet that are 10 years old. They are slotted to be sold this year and they are in great shape so they’re still going to bring us decent money.”

The 12 salespeople on High Reach 2 staff are empowered to sell used equipment. “Most of the people buying from us have been buying equipment from us for years. They know that when they put a piece of equipment from us on the truck, they could take it straight to a job site. That is the way we have them ready,” he says.

During the recession, High Reach 2’s fleet went from 2,250 units in 2008 to 1,670 units in 2010. “The way we pay our equipment down and the way we finance them allows us to have a lot of equity in the equipment early in its useful life and fortunately there was a good used market where we could sell our equipment. A lot of it left the country and most of it left the state. We started purchasing units again in 2011, and today we are at 3,018 units,” he says.

While some unrecognized competitors are coming into the Florida rental market, Renzulli says High Reach 2’s reputation for high-quality equipment and its high level of service keep customers coming back.

“We are not the most expensive in the area, but we certainly are not the lowest cost. All of our sales staff is trained the same, knowing which questions to ask and we have a deep management team. If for some reason we don’t feel comfortable with a new customer or they don’t seem to be confident of their needs, we will make a job site visit to see the actual application. We give them advice on what equipment to use as well as on proper and safe operation.”

Load-sensing units
Renzulli is fully aware of the coming changes to ANSI MEWP regulations and realizes that as these units come online, it’s going to take some effort to educate users about the load-sensing capabilities. “We know customers press the limits of today’s lifts, but the new units will prevent that. I think the load-sensing capability is a great idea, just like the SkyGuard system on JLG lifts and the Lift Guard contact alarm system on Genie lifts. Some of our larger general contractors are requiring this technology on lifts we take to their jobs,” he says.

While this technology adds cost to aerial units, Renzulli says it is difficult to simply pass this on to the customer. “Although we specialize in aerial lift rentals, there are other competitors who are going out with below-market rates, trying to buy market share. The market drives what rental rates may be.”

Customer philosophy
Time and again, High Reach 2’s customers have reinforced the value of the high level of service that Renzulli and his crew bring to the equation. “We will never sacrifice quality for quantity and we will always be fair with our customers and our suppliers. It is really a part of our culture at High Reach 2,” he says,

“If we make a mistake, we own up to it, but we also won’t let customers or suppliers take advantage of us, either. We do not necessarily believe that the customer is always right. What is right is right, and if we do our documentation properly and have backup support, we can usually come to a fair agreement,” Renzulli says.

Venture into software
High Reach 2 uses Genisys2 software to run its rental operation. “This software was brought into the business when NationsRent bought the company. We’ve been using it ever since,” Renzulli says.

In 2014, Genisys was in the throes of bankruptcy, so Renzulli decided to purchase the company to maintain its processes. “It was a dated product, but we were familiar with it. We are in the process of redeveloping it to use .NET programming language and hope to roll out with a SQL back end improved version in the next 6 to 8 months,” he says. “It is going to have more real-time data, faster reporting and fewer clicks to complete tasks.”

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This article originally appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine, © 2018 Direct Business Media