Pick up tips for pickup trucks
By Pat Bolen*
Service Vehicles: What rental operators look for in a pickup truck varies widely.
By Pat Bolen*
What rental operators look for in a pickup truck varies widely, depending on the size of the company, location and what is being hauled. No matter what make or model you are using for your service vehicles, having one or more pickup trucks are essential in any rental operation. Here is what some business owners are saying about their trucks.
A & B Tool Rentals
“The most reliable truck for the cheapest price,” is how A & B Tool Rentals’ owner Aldo Chies describes the company’s truck buying policy. Located in Vancouver, British Columbia, A & B owns six 3/4 ton trucks, which includes four Dodges, a Ford and a Hino.
“None of them are really better than any of them,” says Chies. “We just went with the Dodge.” While the heavier Hino does most of the hauling for A & B, the company does have a trailer it uses for hauling equipment. One policy for the past three to four years for A & B is to buy all diesel vehicles for the fuel savings, extra power and general toughness. “We don’t have to do the maintenance we do on a gas truck.”
While the company does not have a set time to turn over its trucks, Chies says it will be able to keep them longer because diesels are able to handle extended mileage better. “The gas trucks, I would say it’s probably in
the neighbourhood of when it hits 200,000 kilometres.”
While the company has one 4×4, Chies says it is rare that it is ever needed and the extra maintenance and fuel a 4×4 requires is just wasteful. While A & B has only one trailer, all of its diesels come with a trailer package of equipment. “They can tow way better than any gas truck.”
Pubnico Rentals & Sales
Located in Pubnico, Nova Scotia, Pubnico Rentals & Sales is owned by Jean and Olivia D’eon, who drive one 3/4 ton Chevy and have used it for four years for deliveries and hauling the company excavator. Olivia says the company used a 1/2 ton previously, but went to the larger truck to tow the excavator. The company will probably be keeping the 4×4 Chevy for quite a while, says Olivia and they would look at buying the same model truck again.
Pyramide Rental Centers
Richard Paquette from Pyramide Rental Centers in Chateauguay, Quebec, says the business uses six trucks that are primarily Ford, with some General Motors. The 3/4 ton trucks are all equipped with a metal grill welded into the frame that protects the cab and rear window. All the trucks are automatic transmissions equipped for heavy-duty service and trailer packages are also always put on if available, says Paquette.
Pyramide has not gone into the Japanese market yet, says Paquette, because their trucks are not basic enough for his needs. “They’re just too fancy, they’re meant for some guy to be going back and forth to his job site. In our case I want them stripped.”
While the company does not use extended cabs, they do use extended boxes, says Paquette. He also equips all of his trucks with aluminum hydraulic lift gates, with a 1200 to 1600 pound capacity. Despite the investment in the lift gates and racks, Paquette says they are not transferable to new trucks. “We’ve never been successful in
removing a lift gate or rack and putting it on a new truck, because now you have a brand new truck with old accessories on it.” He says the added investment, which can be $4000 to $5000, means trucks have to be kept for five years to get the value of the add-ons.
While they have only one truck that is presently equipped with air conditioning, Paquette says the company is probably going to equip all of its trucks with it for the comfort of its drivers since they are the store representatives who the customers see.
Fuel costs are not a concern for Pyramide, says Paquette, since they consider it as a cost of doing business. “If you have a good energy conservation policy on your lights and your trucks, it doesn’t change whether the cost per unit of it is going up.” Pyramide does not use 4x4s because the fuel savings are minimal and the maintenance costs are higher. “And the resale value seems to hold just as well with the gas.” Another small investment that Paquette says pays off are two or three seat covers purchased over the life of a truck that keeps the seat looking good.
C&T Rentals & Sales
“When it comes to a work truck, it’s a Ford,” says Ed Dwyer for C&T Rentals & Sales located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Dwyer says the eight Fords and two Chevy pickups the company has are a mix of 250s and 150s for delivering
skidsteer loaders, scissorlifts and compaction equipment. “We get them in four wheel drive with power tailgates,” says Dwyer. “They’re the workhorse around here.”
Dwyer says the company’s three trailers have surge built-in brakes which saves having to buy trucks with the packages on them. “Any truck that we use, the trailer automatically has brakes. So we don’t get the electrical setup on our trucks.” While the company has usually leased its trucks for three years, it has bought its last two trucks because of better financing. “Which means we might be having them longer than three years. Our goal is to replace them within three years or 100,000 kilometres.”
Fuel prices were a factor in the company buying a Chevy Colorado for its branch manager so he would not have to use a larger 4×4 to pick up parts or to go to sales meetings. In Manitoba, Dwyer says it is essential to have 4x4s to go to job sites. “It’s a no brainer, you have to have 4x4s.” One thing that Dwyer says C&T will not do is buy a diesel. “We don’t get the pay back within three years.” Another downside says Dwyer is that the diesels have to be plugged in even with moderately cold temperatures. “If it’s not plugged in, it’s not going to start. My other trucks… I never have to plug them in.”
One feature that Dwyer says is hard to find now are trucks with long boxes unless they are custom ordered a couple of months ahead. Extended cabs are more popular now than long boxes but Dwyer says he needs the extra space in the bed for deliveries rather than in the cab. Fuel charges are another concern but one, he adds, that has to be passed onto the customer since he cannot skimp on the size of the truck he needs for deliveries.
St. Thomas Rent-All
Two 2500 series 3/4 ton and one heavy-duty 3/4 ton GM trucks make up the fleet for St. Thomas Rent-All in St. Thomas, Ontario. Owner Jeff Campbell says while the company has had other makes of trucks over its 29 year history, GMs have been the trucks that worked out because of their durability and better fuel economy.
“The resale on them is good,” according to Campbell who adds that his company turns its trucks over about every eight years or 200,000 kilometres. Campbell says the company delivers items such as skidsteers, scaffolding and lawn and garden equipment and when he buys a truck he is basically looking for a good heavy truck.
While most of the equipment St. Thomas is moving can be delivered by a 1/2 ton, Campbell says when it is being done all the time, he prefers having a 3/4 ton to do it and as a company policy does not rent equipment that cannot be moved by a 3/4 ton. Campbell says St. Thomas Rent-All does not have any 4x4s and he is of the opinion that a 4×4 “only gets you stuck farther back in the job site.”
Fuel economy is a definite concern says Campbell, adding that when he was researching his purchases he felt GMs get better gas mileage than other makes. Another factor in what he buys is the Magna plant in town and Campbell says he wants to support a local business that is supporting his community.
All of his trucks have tow packages as well as racks and tailgates but Campbell says one feature that is hard to find is a vinyl floor. “It’s hard to find a basic work truck that you can wash out inside.” Keeping a truck clean and dent free is a factor in their longevity, he says. “If they look clean, they get taken better care of, just like your rental equipment. If there is a dent or a scratch it needs to be repaired because it gets treated better by your own employees and it’s a better image for you. They’re an excellent advertising tool.”
Kensal Rental Service
With a Ford dealer close to them, Ken Mallott of Kensal Rental Service in London, Ontario, says the company decided for simplicity to go with one brand for their fleet of three F-150 1/2 ton 4×4 four doors. “They look after us,” says Mallott of the Ford dealership, which he says gives them a price break so Kensal can usually get a paint job. “The orange really pops,” he says and adds the company usually turns its trucks over every four to five years.
With rising fuel prices, Mallott says he will look closer at other types of trucks including Toyotas which he says are made better, although Chevys have better fuel economy.
Wayne’s Rental Centre
Wayne Beckett from Wayne’s Rental Centre in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, says providing a delivery service is mandatory for most rental yards today, especially those that are located far from urban centres. “We are a medium sized store in southeast Saskatchewan and we do a lot of deliveries, more now than we have before. Usually we deliver scissorlifts, zoom booms, skidsteers, compaction rollers and some agricultural equipment,” he says, adding that about 10 percent of all rentals are delivered to and from customer job sites. “It seems the trend is coming more from larger contract companies that want delivery because they don’t have the manpower or the trained drivers to pick it up themselves, especially with bigger machinery.”
While the company uses a fleet of bumper hitch and gooseneck trailers to haul anything from small equipment
up to a 20,000 pound payload, they are also for rent along with the company’s trucks and its 15 seat passenger vans, popular rental vehicles for school trips and sport teams.
The challenge is making sure there is a truck and trailer combination available when they need to make an equipment delivery or take on a sub-rental from a company in the city. “What we have now is what we also rent and we might not have a truck available if we need to make a delivery,” he explains. “Our market area, about a 50 mile radius, is always getting bigger and we sub-rent a lot of equipment.”
He says his customers have come to expect a delivery service and having the right delivery equipment at your disposal can make a difference between getting the equipment to the customer on time or losing a rental. To ensure this, he has recently purchased a used roll-off truck from Sunbelt Rentals in Florida that will act as a dedicated delivery vehicle strictly for company use.
Beckett understands why rental companies stick to one truck model when running multiple vehicles as it simplifies parts, maintenance and operating procedures when dealing with the same brand. It is a habit that seems to extend into choosing a pickup truck; however, Beckett uses GM for his 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks and Ford for his passenger vans.
“We only have a population of 3000 people, but we have a Ford and a GM dealership and I like to keep them both happy,” he says. “Mostly it’s a personal preference. I have driven GM before and that’s what I am familiar with so I stick with it. I don’t find one is better than the other.” -end-
Photos courtesy of: Saugeen Sales and Rentals, Ontario; Centreline Equipment Rentals, Ontario.
*Pat Bolan is a freelance writer based in Exeter, Ontario.