Equipment rental FAQs for contractors and recyclers

Equipment rental FAQs for contractors and recyclers

Company Wrench’s Christian Billotto explains what contractors and recyclers need to know about renting and servicing equipment.

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October 22, 2019

No matter where or when contractors have a job, they need the right equipment to do it. While many operators choose to purchase equipment outright, renting is a viable option that can make financial and operational sense depending on the job and scope of work.

Company Wrench, headquartered in Carroll, Ohio, sells and rents equipment and parts for the scrap, demolition and construction industries. With nine locations across the U.S., they’re a go-to resource for professionals in need.

Construction & Demolition Recycling spoke with Christian Billotto, Company Wrench’s specialty markets territory sales manager for North Carolina and Virginia, about what contractors and recyclers need to know about renting and servicing equipment out in the field.

Construction & Demolition Recycling (C&DR): What rental equipment do you find to be the most in-demand for demolition contractors?

Christian Billotto (CB): It varies, but most demolition contractors that are doing heavy demolition are going to want an excavator of some size—usually between 20 tons to about 50 tons, depending on the size and scope of their work.

The other thing we rent that is popular is an ultra-high-reach demolition machine. It has the body of an excavator, but it has a long, straight boom and a long, straight arm that allows you to safely demolish a high structure, like a five- or six-story building. Instead of having to swing a wrecking ball or use explosives, which is sometimes impractical or not feasible on a job, you can systematically and surgically cut the building down.

[These pieces of equipment are staples] nationally, even worldwide.

C&DR: What rental equipment do you find to be the most in-demand for recyclers?

CB: For metal and scrap recyclers, we sell a lot of material handlers. Material handlers have that boom and arm designed more for lifting, so it’s ideal for the job. And you have an orange peel grapple on the end of it … that allows recyclers to sort a big pile of scrap metal in less time. With more versatility, you can sort the nonferrous materials, like the copper and the aluminum, and remove it from the pile of steel without a lot of effort. The other piece of equipment recyclers seek out is material handlers outfitted with a real high-powered magnet that can pick up steel.

Besides material handlers, scrap recyclers [also] want shredders. They buy big shredders that you can run a car through that reduce the material to little bits of metal, which makes it manageable. Also, balers are a big item. Whether you have pickup trucks dumping a load full of empty beer cans or another need to compress material, you put that in the baler. The baler squishes that all together and shoots out a cube of compressed cans. You can reduce your airspace and you get more weight per volume by doing that, [but I should say that Company Wrench does not] sell balers or shredders.

C&DR: What are some common reasons contractors opt for renting equipment over purchasing it?

CB: One reason could be they have a large backlog of work. Things are really busy in the industry right now. They may already have all of their existing fleet of equipment out on a job or being used, and they need to supplement a job with some rental equipment.

Usually, the reason people rent is because they have a shorter-term project and they need something for a single-purpose goal. Let’s say you’ve got your local mom-and-pop demolition company that just uses an ordinary excavator with a bucket and thumb or a grapple, and they are use to tearing down smaller structures, like houses or a local drugstore. Now, they get awarded a job to take down a big warehouse that has a bunch of structural steel. They don’t really want to make the $250,000 investment in a hydraulic shear that they are only going to use for one project. So, they just rent one for a month or two. They rent it and then when they are finished with it, they return it.

C&DR: What is the importance of finding a dealer that has equipment designed specifically for the job at hand?

CB: What [Company Wrench] specializes in is the demolition and scrap recycling industries. The value that we provide is that we understand the industry. Many of us had prior experience in these industries before we came to work on the vendor side of the business. Additionally, our mechanics are trained on that equipment specifically, so they know what they’re doing. This isn’t always the case with your average rental house. … They may not be as well-versed in understanding the purpose or the capability of the equipment that contractors or recyclers need.

C&DR: How can contractors identify service providers that are right for their needs on a given project?

CB: If you are the contractor, the first thing you can do is hop on Google or see what you’ve got available where you are. Say you are a contractor local to Charlotte, North Carolina, and you are not really working outside that 50- or 100-mile radius. Odds are, you are going to do a lot of boots-on-the-ground research and see what vendors are around, and then after you do your due diligence, you can reach out.

When it comes to service, you need to know if you’ve a machine that breaks down in the middle of nowhere that you have support from the people you are renting or purchasing it from. You need to have confidence that they can come out and service it in a timely, efficient and knowledgeable manner.

C&DR: How does having in-house manufacturing and fabrication services benefit contractors?

CB: We have a whole branch of our company called CW Machine Worx. We are a custom shop. … If [customers] need something custom-modified to suit a very specific application—something that just doesn’t come out of the excavator factory, per se—we can cater to their very specific application needs. We’ve got in-house engineering capabilities, so we can design something for them, put together a proposal and present it as a quote to a potential customer. If all goes well, then we are awarded that work, and we do a custom build for customers who need something specialized.

The benefit of that arrangement is that there is a direct line of communication between us and the customer—there is no middleman. It’s just us communicating with the customer and the customer communicating with us, so there is no confusion and we can deliver whatever it is they might need.

C&DR: What should contractors know when working with an equipment rental service in order to keep their machines functioning properly with less downtime?

CB: The customer needs to find out from whomever they are renting from whether the machine in question is a piece of equipment that can easily be serviced by the vendor they are renting from and whether there are parts available should the need arise.

[The sales department at Company Wrench] always tells customers that they might want to purchase some extra parts or wear items in advance. … If you are prepared ahead of time, then you are going to reduce any downtime you might have. It is really good to plan ahead. If you have inventory available, ordered, or you at least know what the lead time is, you don’t all of sudden find yourself in a predicament where your equipment is broken and you’re stuck for three days not able to work because a part is being shipped from the other side of the country.

This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of Construction & Demolition Recycling magazine. The author is a contributor to the Recycling Today Media Group.