A Toronto rental startup enters the market with a focus on aerial.
By Monica Dick
Westyork Rentals is looking to give companies across Ontario a boost. The recently formed company specializes in offering rental equipment, sales, parts and service for scissor lifts, articulated booms, telescopic booms and telehandlers for companies across Ontario from its headquarters in Toronto.
The company was started up by Frank Pinto and co-owners Jorge Macedo and Armando DeFaria in May 2021.
“All three gentleman have backgrounds in construction or masonry. They came together with their contacts in the industry to form West York,” explains Kayla Roberts, office manager for Westyork Rentals, who worked with Pinto at another rental company and reunited with him at Westyork Rentals shortly after it started up.
Although they are currently a small group with eight employees, almost all of them come with significant industry experience under their belts.
“Everyone here is pretty experienced in the industry; most have a good decade under their belt. I’ve been in it for 10 years now,” Roberts says.
Pinto comes from a sales background and has more than 20 years of experience in the industry with a large amount of his experience focused on the telehandler market.
“I originally came from a construction background, then I went into sales,” Pinto says. “My industry was more telehandlers, but they also had aerials, which I’m very familiar with. Honestly, it is the future the way things are going. Ladders are not allowed on most jobsites anymore.” Pinto jokes that safety regulations have helped his business blow up.
The company has grown its fleet quickly in the short time it has been operating. Westyork Rentals currently has 105 pieces of equipment in its fleet, including scissor lifts, articulated booms, telescopic booms, telehandlers and forklifts.
“We plan to grow that to at least 150 or 180 pieces by the end of this year,” Roberts says. “Everything we have fleet-wise is owned outright, which is a pretty big milestone for us.”
The company also has a service truck and parts van to offer mobile service, and its technicians are all experienced in aerial lift equipment.
“We have a few outside technicians located all over Ontario in case our customers need something,” Roberts adds.
Opening in a pandemic
Starting up a new business during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic didn’t come without its issues.
“It did add some challenges. Supply and demand is crazy – getting parts and finding people. With COVID-19 and the restrictions, some people are not comfortable working around other people and, in this industry, there are 10 people touching a machine per day,” Pinto says. “Business has been good because it’s an essential business. We’re part of the construction industry, so business never shut down for us. Slowed down the first couple months, but since it’s been busy.”
The shortage of parts and manpower has been a tough hurdle to navigate.
“The biggest challenges I find are really parts and manpower. I’m seeing most businesses are encountering this and the price probably went up 30 to 40 per cent buying gear I used to buy just a few years ago. But, there’s a lot of demand for gear to rent and for people that are purchasing,” Pinto says.
Over his two decades in the industry, Pinto has made trips out to different areas of the world to source equipment and has sold machines to companies in several countries, so his list of contacts is significant.
“In the past, I’ve sold equipment to Saudi Arabia, and I’ve made several trips to Europe outsourcing equipment, buying equipment, selling equipment. It’s a fun business,” he says.
When it comes to getting into the rental industry, Pinto says thinking about things on a short-term basis isn’t an option.
“I don’t think you can look at things short-term. It’s a very heavy upfront investment. When you’re buying equipment, being a newer company, the banks don’t make things easier for you. Everything we buy, we own it outright,” he says.
Pinto says he would like to see his fleet grow significantly over the next several years.
“My goal in the next five years is to have 600 to 700 pieces of equipment,” he says. “Would I like to reach 1,000 pieces? Yes. Would like to reach 2,000 pieces? Yes, I’m very ambitious. But, I have to be realistic. If I get to 800 to 1,000 pieces of equipment in next five to 10 years, I’m going to be very content.”
Pinto says he is considering entering the earthworks market down the road, but for the moment will focus on growing his fleet of aerial equipment and building his loyal customer base.
Customer comes first
While he admits it’s a bit of a cliche, Pinto says the customer always comes first.
“I really do mean that. Where I came from… you have to deliver what you promise,” he says.
“Customer service is our number one goal, so we definitely prioritize that. All of our staff, we make sure they know they’re representing Westyork Rentals and, so far, we’ve gotten a lot of good feedback,” Roberts adds.
The majority of Pinto’s customer base comes from the construction industry – the telehandlers largely from the framing and masonry world. While many of his customers come in knowing what they need for a project, Pinto wants to make sure they get the absolute right machine for a job.
“When I’m selling or renting something to someone, I’m trying to understand their needs, so I know what they’re looking for,” he says. “I tell them, ‘I’ll sell you what you want to buy, but this is not what you need.’ With one customer, we had a deal made on a machine, but I explained it wasn’t what he needed. He went back and realized I was right and did the switch and got what he needed. It cost a little more, but sometimes you even sell them something that’s less expensive. You buy a piece of equipment, it’s a depreciating asset. I don’t want to sell you the wrong piece.”
While the company needs to have a healthy bottom line, it’s not all about the money.
“We’re not a corporate world all about numbers. Yes, if we don’t make money, we can’t pay our bills. But if a person walks in our door to give me a cheque or a credit card, I need to take care of that person,” Pinto says.
He adds that you’ll never see a poster on the walls of his company saying, “The customer is number one.”
“Sometimes you walk into some places, and you see, ‘Customer is number one.’ I don’t have any of that on my walls. We just have to do it,” he says. “This is what I tell everyone. When a customer comes in here, we need to sell ourselves. We’re not selling on price, we’re selling on service. And if the person is all about price, maybe they’re not in the right place. We will not compete with some of those guys.”
Although Westyork Rentals is a new company to the equipment rental scene, Pinto says they’re here for the long haul.
“In short words, we’re here to stay. We’re going to do whatever it takes. It’s not so much about pricing, it’s about building relationships with all the customers so when they walk in here, they feel at home,” he says. “I’m here almost every day between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., sometimes later, and on Sundays, if I need to come in. If I have to go wash a machine, I’ll wash a machine. If I have to go get parts, I’ll go get parts. We all help each other at the end of the day.”