It wasn’t as noticeable as a switch turning on, but the North American market has taken off for both manufacturers and rental companies of access equipment. From the world’s largest rental company to mid-sized independents, nearly everyone is investing and enthused.

United Rentals recently reported rental revenues of $1.32 billion for the third quarter fueled by the continued recovery in North America.

“We’ve definitely moved past the point of refleeting,” Matthew Flannery, chief operating officer of United Rentals, tells ALH. “Almost all of our categories are showing year-over-year growth based on original equipment cost, and in many cases, unit count as well.”

United’s third quarter net income totaled $192 million, up from $143 million last year.

Michael Kneeland, chief executive officer of United Rentals, says the third quarter provided further confirmation that the company’s strategy and the North American construction recovery were both solidly on track.

“Our end markets are continuing to rally, creating numerous opportunities for well-managed, profitable growth,” Kneeland says. “While we reported very strong results, we believe they reflect just a fraction of what our company can achieve over multiple years in the forecasted upcycle.

“More immediately, we believe that the current uncertainty in the financial markets relates to global concerns, and not North America. We'll continue to take the actions that drive returns over time, including rigorous fleet management, the expansion of our specialty rental lines, and transformational measures for greater productivity.”

Another one of North America’s top rental companies, Illinois-based NES Rentals, says its fleet utilization has reached 76 percent, including a record weekly high of 77 percent.

Andy Studdert, chairman and chief executive officer of NES Rentals, tells ALH the company is very excited to have hit such a milestone – and that the momentum is fueled all by growth.

“This is a significant achievement for NES Rentals and reflects on the tremendous job our sales and operational employees are doing for our customers,” Studdert says. “It is even more impressive when you consider our fleet is 7 percent larger than it was in the third quarter of 2013.”

Studdert says NES is working to win market share and give customers what they want to rent – big booms and rough-terrain scissor lifts. The company has had “significant business” it has had to walk away from this year, but said there’s “plenty of growth out there.” As the country moves into winter, and, bearing a mild season, Studdert says 2015 will be better than 2014.

Across the country in the Southwest, Sunstate Equipment Co. says it has seen increased demand for taller booms and scissors, which is fueling development.

“We have enjoyed significant growth in the last few years with our customer base expanding within our existing footprint,” says Patty Coleman, director of fleet at Sunstate Equipment. “Our existing stores have increased inventory to accommodate a demand that continues to grow. We will see needs to turn some older fleet in 2015, and are already in the planning stages.”

For the full rental report including additional company interviews, see the January/February 2015 issue of Access, Lift & Handlers.

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