EDITORIAL: New things in a new year
Patrick FlanneryFeatures Business Intelligence editors pick
In 2024, let’s take inspiration from the fresh perspectives of people new to the rental business.
Our cover story this issue features a couple guys in their 30s who are just getting into the rental industry. It’s pretty clear that their energy and particular skills sets are going to take them a long way. It sure was fun to talk to a couple entrepreneurs at the start of their journey in this crazy business who are filled with enthusiasm to try new things and go where others do not. In particular, I wonder if their comments that rental customers tend to pay without complaint will survive longer contact with the market. In any event I noticed a couple things going on with this company that were refreshing indicators of this generation’s different approach.
They are keen on marketing and promoting their company, not content to rely solely on word-of-mouth to grow the business. They have swag! Not that other companies do not, but it tends to be something larger operations with larger marketing budgets do. But Victor Miceski, one of the owners, says the giveaways are driving business and awareness, which is key at this tender stage in the company’s development. They understand the need to put a polished image out there in order to be taken seriously by prospects. A couple decades ago, this magazine and the Canadian Rental Association had to embark on a real campaign just to encourage rental stores to have a showroom and take the greasy rags off the counter. It seems like the newer people coming in today are coming at it more like a business and trying to apply all the lessons from Business 101.
A second observation is their comfort with using Chinese equipment in their fleet and even becoming a dealer for Chinese suppliers. They haven’t let old prejudices blind them, and this has been profitable. Jon Politano, the other owner, says they have never had a single problem with any of the XCMG excavators they have bought to rent. But they still encounter customers who don’t want them because of where they come from. In response, Politano has been giving customers opportunities to try the XCMG equipment at a discount. Many end up preferring them to other brands, and Politano says their reliability has been flawless. Given the size of XCMG overseas (it’s far larger than any North American equipment manufacturer), this shouldn’t be as surprising as it initially was to me. They must be doing something right. But we’ve been conditioned to expect that Chinese products are lower quality because we’ve used China as a source of low-cost manufacturing for decades rather than taking advantage of the expertise that does exist there. Perhaps it takes a fresh perspective to see the opportunity in higher-quality Chinese manufacturing.
Maybe the new year is encouraging all of us to try new things. You’ll see a difference in our landscaping equipment showcase this time. I was poking around online looking for landscaping-related content and I came across the stunning photo you’ll see on page 24 of a beautifully landscaped backyard with a view right out of Yellowstone. My brain doesn’t generate too many new thoughts these days but this time inspiration hit me: why not put together a “Fantasy Fleet” with all the equipment needed to execute that project? So I emailed my landscaping suppliers list with the challenge: send me some products a rental store should carry to assist a customer with this project. The response was awesome and you can see the results inside. Plus it was a lot more fun than the standard old showcase. Maybe I’ll take a similar approach going forward.
Here’s to new things in this new year.
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