By Treena Hein
It’s not every day that you see generators hoisted up in the air by cranes on the grounds of a rental business.
By Treena Hein
It’s not every day that you see generators hoisted up in the air by cranes on the grounds of a rental business. But then again, Ontario Rental and Supply Ltd. (formerly Ottawa Rental and Supply Ltd.) of Kanata, Ont., (just west of Ottawa) is not your everyday rental business either.
|Why only rent what others have? ORS is making a big move into specialty rental equipment, including this Winlet glass lifter, Spyder cranes and a variety of innovative lift machinery.|
The equipment was showcased on the grounds at an open house that ORS held in late May. One of the aims of the event was for company owners Mark Dalton and Michelle Brown to highlight how their business stands out in the marketplace. In short, it’s all about their unusual offerings for niche applications.
“It’s always been our primary focus to provide the best service possible to each and every customer [coming] through our door, with a secondary focus on offering speciality equipment not regularly available at most competitors’ locations,” Dalton explains. “We developed this focus to attract new customers. Once a client tries ORS because he needs something unusual, it’s a chance for us to show the great service we provide. It’s all in hopes that they will join our list of regular customers.”
Some of the specialty equipment available at ORS includes a Cormidi 72-foot universal boom. The first of its kind delivered in Canada, the Cormidi boom lift has the unique capability to work at negative elevation, positioning the operator below the plane of its base and directly under the unit. It is purpose-built for bridge inspections, allowing workers to access the underside of a bridge with the machine sitting on top. This is a significant advantage for roadbuilding contractors, as they can avoid having to close down the busy highway underneath the bridge while they work on it. The advantage for working on bridges over waterways is also obvious. As Ontario continues to be forced to pour money into its aging and neglected infrastructure, ORS has positioned itself to take maximum advantage of the new investment.
ORS also offers Spyder Cranes, available with gas, diesel or electric power options and only requiring a 24-inch footprint. “With no emissions and a narrow profile, our customers can take this machine anywhere some mechanical lifting power is needed,” says Dalton. Spyder Cranes are especially popular with contractors working on high-rise construction, because they are small enough to drive into residential apartment units and sit on the floor, yet powerful enough to lift heavy wall sections. Just the thing to take advantage of booming condo construction markets.
The company also rents out a Winlet 1265 battery-operated glass handler, capable of handling glass up to 1,265 pounds and reaching heights of up to 12 feet. In addition, this machine also handles granite, marble, sheet metal, plexi-glass and any other materials with smooth and non-porous surfaces. The fad in architecture now is for larger and larger continuous glass sheets to create an unimpeded view. Those windows are heavy, and the Winlet should be attractive to glazing contrators working on high-end residences.
Later in 2014, ORS will be offering a Genie SX180 boom lift, which features a 15-foot rotating jib for accessing high, hard-to-reach areas. “It’s always been our primary focus to meet or exceed the needs of each and every customer,” Dalton explains, “and specialty equipment is just one way we can really service those needs in a way most others can’t.”
The company first opened as Ottawa Rental and Supply in 2009. “When the business started, it was a three-person operation with approximately 1,200 square feet of indoor space,” Dalton explains. “Today, five years later, we employ over 30 people and operate out of nearly 13,000 square feet at two west-end Ottawa locations and a 6,200 square-foot facility in Brockville.” That location currently operates as the ORS service and refurbishing hub.
Business operations are currently handled by general manager Patrick Kelahear and regional sales manager Nelson Tavares. Corporate operations and business development are managed by president and CEO Mark Dalton and CFO Barry Wilson. “I certainly attribute much of the business’s success to the great people who work for the company, and also the relationships we’ve forged with national manufacturer suppliers such as Wacker Neuson, Skyjack, Weber, Genie, Chicago Pneumatic and Hilti, to name a few,” Dalton says. “I’ve always believed that strong relationships and helping others succeed are the keys to success, whether it’s staff, suppliers or, of course, our customers.”
In 2014, the company began transitioning to the name Ontario Rental and Supply, and added a new logo, toll-free number and website as well, all to prepare for expansion outside the Ottawa market. Rental operations are planned to open in nearby Brockville in 2015, and at a further location already purchased in Cornwall soon after. “Adding locations will allow us to better serve our customers in an industry where time is of the essence,” says Dalton. He says the biggest motivating factors for growing the business so quickly has been the simple desire to achieve success while meeting customer needs. “The demand has been there and we happily filled the void.”
All ORS equipment stays in excellent condition because of tender care and also from being stored during the off-season in an indoor space, partly owned by ORS. “This is very important, as it maintains the seals, hoses, paint and so on to a much greater extent than if you left it out in the elements,” Kelahear explains. “Most companies do not bother with indoor off-season storage, but we feel the investment in the facility and the work it takes to take equipment in and out of storage is definitely worth the effort. We understand that the equipment our customers use can make or break the work they’re doing, and how important it therefore is to maintain the best quality we can.”
In addition to being a full-line rental shop, ORS provides a dedicated equipment salesman (Ken Nicolson) focused on providing sales and support of all available equipment lines. “We also offer a large service department which not only provides service for the company’s fleet, but also to its customers to help care for their own equipment,” Kelahear explains. “This is an additional revenue stream as well as an opportunity for building relationships and adding regular customers.”
ORS also offers a wide array of on-site and off-site safety training. Director of safety Brian Funk oversees the training and accreditation of all ORS staff and all external training, in propane handling, elevated work platforms, fall protection, confined spaces and much more.
ORS is the official rental company of the Ottawa Senators, the Canadian Tire Centre (the Ottawa Senators’ arena), Bell Sensplex, Cavanagh Sensplex and Richcraft Sensplex. “It all comes down to positive relationships within our community,” says Dalton. “Getting involved in something that matters to the community and creating positive, long-term connections.”
|Keeping a prominent profile in the community is|
important to ORS. The company race team, headed by employee Sean
Kennedy, is a key part of the strategy.
The company has also been selected by Canadian Business Magazine as one of the 2014 Profit 500 Fastest Growing Companies. According to the website, Profit 500 companies are evaluated on their growth over five years, and must have proven themselves to be viable, with a “stable and scalable” pool of customers. Placing 61st with staggering 1,192 per cent revenue growth over the measured period took Dalton by surprise. “We are very humbled to be given this honour,” he says. “It doesn’t always feel like things are happening that fast, but when you stop and think about where we were and where we are now, it’s exciting!”
Outside of the rental business, ORS also operates a race team at the Capital City Speedway, west of Ottawa. The team is headed by driver and ORS employee Sean Kennedy. “We have a great bunch of people working here, and it’s really great to be able to get together outside of business hours and have fun as a team,” says Kennedy. The team atmosphere is instilled in all staff, as seen on “Fast Fridays” when everyone dons their race shirts.
“We thoroughly enjoy the variety of work that this industry offers us,” Dalton says. “Further, we are grateful to be able to use some of the best equipment available on the market today. This is truly an industry for those who have a passion for equipment and for people.”
He adds, “We believe our future is bright. Along with the partnerships we’ve been able to create over the years, we look forward to a budding future as a premiere supplier of equipment rentals and sales in Ontario.”
The ORS open house was a big success. Customers, dealers and staff alike enjoyed lunch (made on a BBQ available for rent, of course), networked and got to view some examples of unusual ORS equipment in action. It was indeed a showcase of a company that knows how it stands apart in the market and is keen to expand itself in Eastern Ontario, and perhaps beyond.