Equipment longevity, dealer support contribute to equipment rental growth, success
A full lineup of durable equipment backed by a skilled sales and service team. That’s what rental company managers like Nathan Upton and Forrest Farrer need. And that’s what Vermeer provides them along with others like them who provide commercial and residential customers Vermeer tree care, landscape and utility equipment.
The rental business is a family affair for Upton at Corvallis Rental Equipment Inc. in Corvallis, Oregon. At 12 years old, he became the third generation to work at the family business that provides specialty equipment rentals to the area’s agriculture and tree care sectors. Around three quarters of Upton’s business is comprised of commercial customers, and in an area with a diversity of arborist and agricultural businesses, he targets specialty operators with the full lineup of Vermeer tree care equipment. But it wasn’t always that way.
“Years ago, I worked with several different manufacturers. I had always thought Vermeer brush chippers were the best, but I used to carry equipment from three companies,” Upton said. “Then, because of how hard my Vermeer dealer worked to determine what would best meet my needs based on my budget, I decided I would buy everything they sell. It started with a few little things, but now I am a full-line Vermeer customer.”
When Forrest Farrer’s grandfather moved to the Nashville, Tennessee, area in the 1960s, he intended to work as a residential contractor and later added a hardware and rental store. Now with three locations in Nashville, Dickson and Hendersonville, Tennessee, Farrer Brothers Hardware and Equipment Rental serves commercial and residential customers in one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in North America. The family initially worked with Vermeer to provide brush chippers, but trenchers and mini skid steers make up the majority of the company’s rental fleet today. Like Upton, Farrer started integrating the machines into his business slowly until he saw the vast number of applications for the smaller machines on customer jobsites.
“We started out with three S725TX mini skid steers because we didn’t want to jump in with five or six right off the bat until we saw how they’d work,” Farrer said. “Once we saw how those units performed, we were almost embarrassed by the other units we rented. Now, we have 10 Vermeer mini skid steers.”
The right combination of man, machine
Why work exclusively with Vermeer? For Upton, it starts at the factory; he said he’s been able to maximize the business he can generate from renting Vermeer machines because of their longevity and durability. He recalls a Vermeer RTX100 walk-behind trencher he offered to customers earlier in his career as a tool that exemplifies the Vermeer commitment to quality.
“That machine lasted so long that in the whole time I had it, I had the motor replaced four times before I had even one other major repair,” Upton said. “I did routine things — replacing things like chains and sprockets, like with any routine maintenance — but that machine just kept going and going.”
And in cases when Upton has had a customer run into issues with a Vermeer stump cutter or chipper, his partners at dealer RDO Equipment Co. and the Vermeer factory help him sustain the equipment supply that represents the lion’s share of a $5 million rental fleet.
“I believe the best way to do business is with a person, not a company,” Upton said. “My Vermeer dealer has been there for years, and he bends over backwards for me. When he shakes my hand, I know it is going to be a good deal.”
The combination of equipment durability and dealer service have enabled Farrer to match his rental inventory with his customers’ specific needs. Working with a responsive Vermeer dealer helps not only maintain the right inventory level but also proactively attend to any maintenance needs. Both have helped Farrer minimize missed rental opportunities.
“If I call Klay, my dealer with Vermeer Heartland, and say I need another S925TX, he has one on his lot ready to go 95 percent of the time,” Farrer said. “I might be missing two or three customers a day because these machines are always rented, but because of our relationship with Klay, we’re able to offer the equipment we need to keep our customers happy. We always have something for our customers to use.”
Serving a growing customer base
The combination of quality equipment and service from both the manufacturer and dealer also help Upton provide his own customers the level of service to which they’ve become accustomed. He knows with Vermeer backing him, Upton can be the industry leader in his area when it comes to rental equipment and customer service.
“They build a quality product, and between the service I get from the factory and the service I get from RDO, I rarely have any issues. If I do, the company steps up, and as a result I wouldn’t ever go to another manufacturer for my mini skid steers, brush chippers, trenchers and stump cutters,” Upton said. “I have no incentive to go to any other manufacturer. When I can offer my customers a quality Vermeer machine, why would I?”
Moving forward, Farrer said he expects rental demand — especially for Vermeer trenchers and mini skid steers — to continue to rise consistently with the residential growth in the Nashville area. Though the exact pace of that growth will depend greatly on the performance of the general economy, he’s confident making plans to expand his rental fleet to keep up given the responsiveness of his Vermeer dealer, both in terms of sales and service.
“With Nashville absolutely booming, we see strong demand for mini skid steers and trenchers since they have so many uses and offer so much productivity,” Farrer said. “We’re known for never being totally out of anything, and Vermeer continues to help us keep earning that reputation.”
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