ALH 2020: the top 20 aerial specialist rental yards in North America

09 March 2009

In 2007, ALH introduced its benchmark feature called the ALH 20/20. This roster reported on the top 20 aerial specialist rental yards in North America in two categories: aerials (scissors, booms, trailer-mounted equipment, mast climbers and hoists) and telehandlers. This year, we separate the two in different issues, the next in the September/October issue. The reason was to isolate the two sectors and report on the growth between these two very different product ranges.

For this first installment, the Top 20 specialists in telehandlers are the focus. This year, we see new entries make way and finalists of last year drop off from the tally. Some of the numbers are estimates, as was last year, due to several rental yards holding its numbers as private capital.

Overall, the Telehandler 20 list grew this year 1.6%, with a total figure of 31,554. This figure is helped by the independents, as the top five grew at a slower pace of .8%.

Last year, the top rental carrier was the obvious, United Rentals, which held a whooping 10,215. It holds the title again this year, however the company reports 9% less with 10,115.

Indianapolis-based AirWorx reported 20 more handlers in 12 months to its fleet, totaling 90, symbolic of its growth as the company expands into the Cincinnati and Louisville markets (see News for the exclusive report). Ahern Rentals continues its climb as the second largest of handlers - an achievement remarkable as the company is still considered an "independent" among the rental community. Cat rental operations stepped up this year with three of its branches in the Top 20.

New to this list is Ideal Crane, of Wisconsin, which not only runs a large crane rental fleet, but has also built quite a fleet in its aerial and handler division.

From the perspective of growth overall, some companies still individually reported a decline in its handler fleets. United Rentals has 102 less than it did 12 months ago. Florida's Neff Rental sees a decline in its total count, as well as Texas-based Equipment Depot. Last year's ranking at 19, Valley Equipment & Supply, has closed one of its branches and dropped around 25 handlers with a current fleet now of 45. These figures support a softening in the market that seems more apt to decrease than climb over the next 12 months.

Nationals that everyone knows ranks within the Top 5, such as RSC Equipment Rental and Sunbelt Rentals, declined to state its fleet size. Again, estimates were necessary in tallying this year's results. Companies, such as the Northwest's Star Rentals and the Northeast's Modern Equipment Sales & Rental, declined listing altogether.

Next time around, aerials are the subject matter and the numbers will be significantly higher. Booms, scissors and the lot are less expensive products and a better return on investment, so expect to see the results increase in figures, even if only by a slight margin from last year's standards. But collectively, these numbers not only are testament to a rental yard's growth, but reflect the current construction climate in North America: housing down, commercial and industrial still good.

The survey

Research for the Telehandler 20 was carried out during spring 2008. Where companies were unwilling to provide data, we have made our own estimates based on advice from annual reports and industry contacts.

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