Australia's rental industry faces clean-up and rebuild

By Murray Pollok17 January 2011

Kennards Hire's Rocklea depot in Brisbane under flood waters. Two of the company's eight depots in B

Kennards Hire's Rocklea depot in Brisbane under flood waters. Two of the company's eight depots in Brisbane were severely impacted by the extensive flooding in Queensland.

Australia's rental industry has been doing as much as it can to help in the aftermath of the devastating flooding in Queensland last week although many rental companies have themselves been badly impacted by the floods.

Bill Whitehouse, general manager-director of Kennards Hire Australia, told IRN that two of its eight depots in Brisbane, at Rocklea and Indooroopilly, "went under" with extensive water damage, and he provided IRN with a detailed briefing of the company's response.

"Kennards has two short term demands to deal with", wrote Mr Whitehouse, "Firstly we need to supply equipment throughout Brisbane for the cleanup stage. This involves pumps, vacuums, skid steer loaders and pressure washers. Large quantities of generators have also been deployed across the affected areas as the power to impacted homes is cut off.

"The demand for equipment has seen Kennards mobilise plant from New South Wales, South Australia and our Far North Queensland branches. The delivery time from these areas is around a twelve hour drive. We have in our fleet natural disaster kits, in large transportable bins, which are placed strategically in our states to support occurrences like this. These emergency kits were the first of our interstate equipment to be mobilised.

"Secondly, we need to rebuild our branches that have been impacted by the water damage. This includes replacing existing equipment that is not repairable and servicing salvable assets. Both our locations are around 2500 square meters in size with a 300square metre building. These buildings will need to be rebuilt inside with counters, computers and the like, which where all destroyed. These locations each carry around A$1.5 million of rental equipment and other associated assets.

"In response to the short term demand for labour in Queensland, we have flown in Kennards people from around the country to assist in the cleanup and rebuilding phase of our affected branches. We would like to recognise the support and hard work from all our staff during this period. This will ensure our Queensland division returns to normal operations as quickly as possible.

Mr Whitehouse said Kennards' Queensland operation will be fully functional by the end of January 2011; "We will then start moving into a second phase, which will involve meeting the large demand on equipment and resources for the massive infrastructure rebuild that will need to take place in Brisbane City and other affected regional centres."

Current estimates put the rebuilding costs at A$20 billion (€15 billion) and the work could take more than a year.

He said Kennards had been exposed to many natural disasters over the years, including the 2009 bush fires in Victoria, cyclones and earthquake disasters; "The recent Queensland floods rank among the highest in terms of destruction. However, the Australian people are very resilient and bounce back quickly when their lives and property are affected by these occurrences."

Meanwhile, in a joint letter to members of the Hire & Rental Industry Association (HRIA) and the Elevating Work Platform Association (EWPA), Phil Newby (CEO, HRIA), Mark Scarce (president, HRIA) and Tim Nuttall (president, EWPA), expressed their sympathy to members who had been impacted by the floods.

In the letter they urge members to donate to the Queensland Flood Appeal; "In addition we need to remind ourselves that the hire industry comes into its own when up against this sort of adversity. A massive amount of equipment to help with the clean up and restoration to normality is required.

"Hence we urge members to communicate with fellow members who are in the affected areas and see what sort of help is needed. They may need additional mechanics to repair damaged hire stock, they may need additional stock items such as pumps, hoses, temporary buildings, tarpaulins, fencing and much more.

"The next few weeks are critical so please consider what part you can play in getting our fellow members back up to speed." In Queensland HRIA has 245 members and EWPA has 170 members.

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