The problem solvers
By Jack KazmierskiFeatures Profiles
Stringer’s small community relies on it for solutions.
Located in Gimli, Man., Stringer Rentals and Power Products caters to the needs of a very unique market. With a population of almost 2,500, the small town of Gimli can trace its heritage back to 1875, when the Canadian government granted land to Icelandic settlers. Back then, the community was known as New Iceland.
Situated on the west side of Lake Winnipeg, Gimli continues to attract visitors and is known today as a tourist hotspot. Only an hour’s drive north of Winnipeg, Gimli is home to cottagers in the summer, as well as ice fisherman in the winter. The area is bustling with construction projects, which means that there’s always a need for the type of equipment contractors and tradespeople typically rent.
Born and raised in Gimli, Adam Stringer is the founder and president of Stringer Rentals and Power Products. He understands his community, as well as the specific needs of the local population. He has managed to build a successful business catering to their needs.
A heavy-duty diesel mechanic by trade, Stringer is a serial entrepreneur. He and his mother purchased a hardware store in Gimli in 2002. Five years later, Stringer started the rental business and, in the fall of 2022, he bought a lumber yard in nearby Winnipeg.
Although Stringer Rentals caters to the needs of the local population, the store also attracts customers from surrounding communities. Stringer says customers come from as far away as 70 kilometers to rent from him.
Today, Stringer Rentals offers a broad range of products but that wasn’t always the case. Stringer recalls starting off with very limited stock. “We started small,” he says. “We just had basic power tools and some, what I would call, yard tools. But it didn’t take long before we branched out into things like skid steers, excavators and the like once we saw that there was a need for them.”
The business has grown at a steady pace over the past 16 years and Stringer Rentals now boasts an entire fleet of skid steers, mini-excavators and a front-end loader. The 2,800-square-foot facility has a full-time staff of between eight and nine, depending on the time of the year and the needs of the season.
In addition to traditional construction equipment, it also rents a range of products for tourists who come to Gimli to enjoy the beauty of Lake Winnipeg, whether it’s frozen or not.
“We branched out into what I’d call recreational rentals about two years ago,” Stringer explains. “We rent things like Sea-Doos in the summer, and we rent equipment for ice fishing in the winter, including trailers that sit on the ice.”
While construction equipment rentals account for 90 percent of Stringer’s business, he says he started to “dabble” in the recreational rental market in order to fill a need. “My mindset,” he says, “is that if there’s a need, and I think I can fill it, then I try to take it on.”
Born and raised in Gimli, Stringer has his finger on the pulse of the community and he understands his customers. “I’ve been here my whole life,” he says, “so I know all the ins and outs and I’m very well networked with people. If there’s a need, I try to see if it’ll fit within my business plan and if I can do it. If I can, then I go ahead and do it.”
With customers travelling as far as 70 kilometers to rent from Stringer Rentals, the store isn’t facing what might be considered “fierce competition” from other retailers. In theory, Stringer could rest on his laurels and not try too hard, but he and his team continue to operate with a customer-first philosophy. Going the extra mile, he says, is just the way he does business.
“Everyone talks about good service,” Stringer explains, “but I think we really do go above and beyond and I think that our big advantage is that we can react quickly to customer needs.”
He offers the example of someone who might need a piece of equipment in the middle of the night. Even though the store is closed and everyone is asleep, Stringer says he’s willing and happy to get out of bed and make sure that his customer gets what he needs.
“It’s all about being part of the community in a small town,” he explains. “If someone really needs a pump at 2 a.m., then they’ll text me and I will send someone to the store, or I will go there myself to help that person out. If it’s an emergency, why wouldn’t we be willing to help?”
Stringer and his team are also willing to arrive early and stay late if that’s what the customer needs. “We’re very flexible with our hours,” he says. “If a customer can’t get there on time, then we’ll make sure that we’re there to meet them at the yard so that they can get the equipment they need to get their job done. We’ll work late, if that’s what it takes.”
The fact that Gimli is an hour away from Winnipeg, the closest major city, helps Stringer Rentals compete with the larger rental companies that don’t normally have facilities in smaller towns. “I’m not in the big city, like those guys,” Stringer says of his competition. “So I think that our location and our ability to react quickly to our clientele give us an advantage.”
If a contractor is working on a project in or around Gimli, and they suddenly need a piece of equipment, Stringer says he can have it ready for them very quickly. “If a construction company is working in Gimli and then need a skid steer, for example, they don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to get it delivered from Winnipeg. They also don’t have to wait half a day to get it, because we can get them the equipment within the hour.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Stringer isn’t known as someone who shies away from opportunities. That’s one of the reasons why his store offers more than what one might expect to find in a typical rental facility. For instance, Stringer Rentals sells clothing.
“We’re a rental yard,” Stringer explains, “but we also sell clothing. I wouldn’t say it’s high fashion by any means. It’s workwear and there’s a need for it.”
The store’s expansion into workwear is another example of how eager Stringer is to fill a need when he sees it. “There wasn’t a lot of workwear available in Gimli,” he explains. “I saw the need and the opportunity, so we gradually got into that market and we grew that side of our business.”
In addition, Stringer Rentals sells a range of products made by a number of well-known brands. “We’re a dealer for Toro, Husqvarna, Echo, Stihl and others. So we’re not strictly offering just rentals,” Stringer says.
Moreover, any of the products purchased at Stringer Rentals can be fixed and maintained by Stringer’s team because he also runs a service centre. “We have a service department with two full-time technicians.”
With a hardware store, a rental facility and a lumber yard under his belt, Stringer plans to continue growing his businesses by offering rentals at his recently-acquired Winnipeg Beach facility. “We won’t offer as much as we do in Gimli,” he explains, “but I definitely want to expand my business.”
Stringer plans to offer power tools and yard equipment rentals at his Winnipeg Beach store. “We won’t have any of the larger equipment,” he says. “If people want the larger equipment they will have to go to Gimli to get it, or we can make arrangements to get it to them.”
In the meantime, Stringer and his team will continue to offer the top-notch service Gimli residents and local contractors have come to expect from this small-town businessman. To Stringer, helping out whenever and wherever there’s a need is all part of life in a close-knit community like Gimli.
“I think we have a small-town mentality,” Stringer concludes. “For example, when you’re going to get your mail and somebody stops you to ask if you have this or that in your store because they need it. It’s definitely different from life in a big city and we’re used to catering to the needs of our community.”
Eager and happy to support local charities and organizations, Stringer says he’s always glad to donate his time and resources as he looks for ways to help out and make a difference. “I think that people have to come to know us as problem solvers,” he says. “That’s just who we are.”
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