By Chris Skalkos
Brothers lead family owned rental business through accelerated growth.
By Chris Skalkos
|The Venetor Group is managed by vice-president of finance and administration, Alvi Beraldo, centre; vice-president of operations, Tom Beraldo, right, and vice-president of branch operations, Dennis Beraldo.|
In 1975, Louis Beraldo and his wife Miranda of Stoney Creek, Ontario, sat down at their kitchen table with a tough decision to make. After working several years as a site supervisor for construction firms, Louis decided to go into business on his own as an independent crane operator, but the phone was not ringing with business opportunities. “Louis told me he was going to sell the crane and I said ‘no way, we have kids to feed. You are going to make that phone ring’,” recalls Miranda. “I was very optimistic and I wanted to make this new business work.” And work is what they both did as Louis went out and got his first contract at a local steel company. “Louis did a lot of sales over the phone; he was good at promoting the company. When we bought our second crane, I knew everything was going to be okay,” she says.
With Miranda running the office out of their home and Louis working seven days a week, the company they called Venetor Crane started to grow as they added a crane to their operation every year. By the mid 1980s the company was well established with 10 cranes in its fleet.
Around the same time, the Beraldo’s three sons Alvi, Tom and Dennis joined the company, but not without conditions set down by their parents. “It was a pre-requisite that we needed to get a university degree before they let us join. They wanted us to have something to fall back on,” says Dennis. The company moved into its first commercial building in 1985 with Alvi working in administration and Tom and Dennis doing sales.
|The Venetor Group of companies is a family owned and operated rental company in Ontario consisting of Venetor Crane and Venetor Equipment Rental.|
While the Beraldo brothers adjusted to their new roles in the family business, the economic recession of the early 1990s hit, prompting the company to diversify its fleet while seeking new sources of revenue.
“Those were tough days. It wasn’t a sales driven industry,” says Dennis. “We added aerial work platforms in 1996 to complement the equipment needs of our industrial customers. This is when the high reach industry started to take off and it actually accelerated our growth.”
Consolidation yields advantages
Another factor that helped the company was the fast pace of consolidation that swept through the equipment rental industry a few years after the recession which left a void in niche sectors of the market.
“We were able to acquire the best people in the industry who were not happy working for a public company. And we were also acquiring a lot of customers who weren’t getting the service they expected. We focussed on being better than the consolidators,” says Dennis. While other companies were tightening their belts, the Beraldos kept investing in the company putting an emphasis on service and transportation vehicles for improved deliveries. “We started to focus on servicing niche markets, the customers who needed to rent larger booms for larger projects, at a time during the economic downturn when many small independents were afraid to put the capital out,” he says.
In 1999, with consolidation in full swing, the company set its sights on the very large market in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) setting up a branch with 35,000 square feet in Toronto where its crane and aerial work platform rentals took off.
|The company’s new state-of-the-art $6.0 million building is a two storey, 50,000 square foot facility that sits on 8.25 acres of|
land and features a huge 30,000 square foot shop and maintenance area
with 20,000 square feet of office, training and employee facilities.
“Getting into the Toronto market was strategically important because it helped us acquire quality employees with plenty of industry experience. Venetor quickly became a formidable opponent to the well established competitors in this market,” says Tom. “We did it quietly. We weren’t loud. We went in, got the business and got out. We never waived the flag because we like to keep others guessing.” Tom says shortly afterwards, in 2001, they turned their attention to nearby Cambridge, where industrial commercial contractors were under serviced, moving into a 12,500 square foot building. “We saw the opportunity to get involved with the expansion along the 401 corridor and all of the automotive manufacturing plants located along that highway,” says Tom.
In 2005, they acquired the rental assets of US-based NES Equipment Rental and inherited a 13,000 square foot building in Windsor giving them their fourth office in Ontario. At the same time the company diversified again, this time venturing into contractor tools and equipment to complement its lifts and cranes with general equipment their customers sometimes also require. “We applied the same formula that has worked for us over the years. Growing by complementing our existing operation instead of plowing new ground,” says Dennis.
Keeping within the GTA, the company expanded again in 2007 opening a 12,000 square foot branch in Oshawa bringing their total locations to five. Tom says the company’s accelerated growth of opening four new branches within seven years is a direct response to their customers’ needs and the dedicated service Venetor provides. This is clearly evident in the company’s headquarters in Stoney Creek where one of the biggest investments took place right where it all started.
When Canadian Rental Service visited the company last year, it was still putting the finishing touches on its new state-of-the-art $6.0 million building. The two storey, 50,000 square foot facility sits on 8.25 acres of land and features a huge 30,000 square foot shop and maintenance area with 20,000 square feet of office, training and employee facilities.
Recently, just prior to this magazine going to press, the company expanded again opening its sixth branch in Sudbury on April 1. The 13,000 square foot facility further reinforces its commitment to servicing its customers by extending its reach in northern Ontario.
Today, the Venetor Group consists of Venetor Crane Limited, the crane rental division renting hydraulic mobile cranes, and Venetor Equipment Rental Incorporated, the equipment rental division renting and selling aerial work platforms and contractor’s tools and equipment. It is the largest 100 percent Canadian, privately owned equipment rental company in Ontario with 170 employees. Its fleet consists of a full line of more than 2500 aerial work platforms, handlers, forklifts and carry deck cranes, 30 mobile cranes and a full line of contractor’s tools and equipment ranging from skidsteers to jumping jacks to large wheel loaders.
and CEO Louis Beraldo started Venetor Crane in 1975. He has always
maintained a hands-on approach to building the company.
Its aerial lift division features on-slab and rough-terrain scissorlifts to 50 feet, boom lifts to 135 feet, carry deck cranes to 15 tons as well as forklifts for on-slab or rough-terrain applications. The company’s suppliers include Skyjack, Snorkel, JLG, Genie, Sky Trak and Terex. It is an authorized dealer of Snorkel, JLG, Genie and Skyjack aerial equipment, and Terex telescopic forklifts. The crane division has all types of cranes ranging in capacities from 17 to 250 tones from manufacturers such as Grove, Demag and National. The contractor’s tools and equipment division carries Bobcat, Wacker, Bomag, IR, Terex and Case machines.
The company has invested more than $70 million worth of late model equipment available with an average age of three and a half years and it stocks more than $1.0 million in parts inventory available to ensure uninterrupted rentals to customers. Its equipment inventory consists of more than $4.0 million of Bobcat skidsteers, Terex backhoes, loaders and mini-excavators, Sullair 185cfm and 375cfm compressors, Wacker compactors and pumps, and Bosch small tools for rent. The company manages this with the latest software from Systematic which tracks the status of every piece of rental equipment to maximize utilization and reduce overall costs.
Second to none
While the depth of the company’s inventory is impressive, the Beraldos unanimously agree that their greatest asset is the company’s employees. “We firmly believe that we have the best team of employees and a facility like our head office is a testament to their strength, integrity and perseverance,” says Tom.
|Miranda Beraldo says the most important job she has ever had was raising her three sons. In between, she is executive vice-president of the company where she maintains an active role.|
“Whenever we invested in equipment, we sought to strengthen our infrastructure with an investment in our employees. Anybody can buy equipment and rent it, but you also need systems in place to ensure on-time service and delivery. The key is having the right people in place to make that happen,” adds Dennis. “We are dedicated to differentiating ourselves from the competition. We are continually evolving, striving to be the industry leader.”
Tom adds that the autonomy they give to their employees is very important. “We allow them to get involved in the decision making process. By empowering them we are instilling a vested interest in the company,” he says.
Joe Gould, the director of service at the corporate office, agrees. “Venetor truly believes that to be competitive in our market, we have made it a priority to develop our people and this starts on our shop floor. Each year, we provide each of our service technicians with a minimum of 40 hours of manufacturers’ training which is provided by our equipment suppliers. The company also encourages self development through community colleges and the apprenticeship program, which they provide the funding for.
“Our service managers are also provided with the supervisory skills training for self development to help lead and develop our people. Part of our culture is to ensure that we provide our people with the necessary training skills that add immeasurable value to the company,” Gould says.
Proud parents and company co-founders, Louis and Miranda Beraldo praise their sons for growing the company from the one crane operation they started in 1975 to what it is today; however, all three of the Beraldo brothers credit their parents for instilling in them the values that they have embraced in their current business philosophy. “We were taught from a young age that it takes hard work and dedication to be successful,” says Dennis. “Integrity, honesty and reliability are the foundation of the Venetor name. Our parents did it the hard way, through hard work and we will honour that legacy.” -end-