European Rental Awards: details of the winners and shortlisted companies.

By Murray Pollok29 May 2009

Winners at the second European Rental Awards, from left to right: Hendrik Jan Molenaar (Aggreko), Ge

Winners at the second European Rental Awards, from left to right: Hendrik Jan Molenaar (Aggreko), George Burnett (former Ashtead Group CEO), Alexandre Saubot (Haulotte Group), Per Hedebark (Lipak Lift

The European Rental Awards were held at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, UK, on 26 May as part of the European Rental Association's annual Convention.

Co-organised by International Rental News and the European Rental Association, the awards are designed to recognize and celebrate excellence in rental. The awards were sponsored by Ritchie Bros Auctioneers (Gold Sponsor) and Hewden (Silver Sponsor).

The winners and shortlisted companies in each of the categories were:

Rental Company of the Year (more than 10 depots)
Aggreko (WINNER)

Rental Company of the Year (10 depots or less)
Lipac Liftar (WINNER)
Dest Bul (Destination Bulgaria)
Hoyde Service

Rental Product of the Year
Haulotte Group (H28TJ+) (WINNER)
Dustcontrol (AirCube aircleaner)
Hitachi (ZX14-3)
Niftylift (Height Rider 21 Bi-Energy)

ERA/IRN Rental Person of the Year
Mendes Migotto (Gruppo Venpa3) (WINNER)
Erkki Norvio (Ramirent)
Pierre Boels (Boels Verhuur)

Lifetime Achievement Award
George Burnett (founder and former CEO of Ashtead Group)


Rental Company of the Year (more than 10 depots)

In 2008, while other rental companies were struggling to adapt to changing market conditions, UK-based Aggreko managed to maintain its growth, increase its profits, expand its global footprint and win many of the major power/temperature control rental contracts of the year, including the Beijing Olympics (where it supplied 140 MW of power), the European football championships and the US SuperBowl.

During the year it also won the contract for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, and is now operating on the site of the 2012 London Olympic Games as a member of one of the two Olympic rental consortia.

Aggreko's financial results tell the story of a company at the top of its game, developing new markets and cementing its place as the leading renter of power and temperature control equipment in the developed western European and North American territories.

Despite the recession, 2008 revenues in North America rose 15% and in Europe by 11%, with trading profits in each region up 17% and 20%, respectively. The company continued to invest both in its fleet and in its internal manufacturing facilities. Fleet investment in 2008 was around £260 million, and the company announced in October that it will invest £20 million in a new generator production facility in Scotland close to its Glasgow headquarters.

2008 also saw the company continue with its ‘infill' acquisitions policy. It bought the power rental operations of Cummins in India, and acquired a Canadian rental company that supplies power to the Oil Sands area.

Rental Company of the Year (10 depots or less)

Lipac Liftar
One of the two powered access specialists in this year's small company shortlist, Sweden's Lipac Liftar AB has a fleet of 650 units rented from seven locations in the central region of the country.

The last four years has seen Lipac double its turnover SEK 51.8 million (€4.8 million), during which is has remained profitable. The expansion has only been through organic growth and not through acquisitions.

Lipac is one of the most innovative companies in Europe's access rental market. It only used vegetable hydraulic oils for its entire hire fleet, and since 2005 it has replaced conventional diesel with ultraclean EcoPar fuel, which decreases carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 50%.

Furthermore, the company is pioneering a unique operator safety initiative in Sweden. The construction industry in Sweden has implemented an intelligent, standardised identity card called ID06. The card can be equipped with RFID tags and used to store data on training etc. Now, Lipac and a company called SafeTool have developed a system that uses an operator's ID06 card to start up the aerial platform. The manager on site gives a worker access to a certain lift - the worker then has to use his ID06 card to start that machine. The card will not work on any other lift.

Lipac says; "The ID06 system prevents users from using the wrong lift. It also prevents users from ‘stealing' lifts from each other". "The system gives the manager of the construction site a vital tool to follow the regulation that only certified workers are allowed to use lifts." The system has been tested with one of the largest construction companies in Sweden, NCC, at a large construction site in Norrkoping, Sweden.

Rental Product of the Year

Haulotte Group (H28TJ+)
In developing the H28TJ, Haulotte Group aimed to create a product that would simultaneously meet the needs of the world's two largest aerial platform markets - North America, where telescopic booms are very popular, and Europe, where more versatile articulated booms are given preference.

Haulotte's answer was a telescopic boom with a unique 5 m long, telescopic fly jib, combining the reach of a telescopic model (maximum outreach is 23 m) with the ability to reach inaccessible spots using the fly jib. The unit also has a good platform capacity of 350 kg.

As Haulotte says, "The H28TJ+ allows users to reach the areas of work which are the most inaccessible to traditional telescopic booms, and to approach a building when the rear of the worksite is cluttered."

The lift uses Haulotte's latest generation control panel (offering simultaneous and proportional control of movements), and its manoeuvrability is enhanced by the use of an oscillating axle, narrow fixed-width frame, 4-wheel drive as standard, hydrostatic transmission and differential lock.

ERA/IRN Rental Person of the Year

Mendes Migotto (Gruppo Venpa3)
Mendes Migotto is managing director of Gruppo Venpa3, the largest rental company in Italy, with more than 50 branches or joint venture companies in Italy and Eastern Europe. It now employs over 370 employees, has a fleet of 6800 machines and attachments, and its regular 20% annual revenue growth took total group sales to over €55 million last year.

Although strongest in northern and central Italy, over recent years Venpa has been expanding into southern Italy and also into eastern European markets such as Slovenia.

Mr Migotto has also led Venpa3 as it diversifies beyond its aerial platform focus towards earthmoving equipment.

Under his leadership, Venpa3 has focused on service, with 120 service staff, as well as safety and training. Gruppo Venpa3 is an accredited IPAF training centre.

Beyond his activities with Venpa3, Mr Migotto is working with the ERA to help the development of the Italian rental market, and is also working towards official recognition in Italy of rental activity in legal, insurance and financial matters.

Lifetime Achievement Award

George Burnett (co-founder and former CEO of Ashtead Group)
George Burnett co-founded Ashtead Group in 1984 when he acquired a rental company in the south east of England with just 5 depots and revenues of £1 million. In the subsequent 22 years he grew Ashtead into one of the world's largest equipment rental companies, with leading businesses in two major rental markets, A-Plant in the UK and Sunbelt Rentals in the US.

George was instrumental in all the key moves undertaken by the company and successfully led it through the US economic downturn of 2001/2. He retired from the business in late 2006, after overseeing the acquisition of another major US company, NationsRent.


Rental Company of the Year (more than 10 depots)

Shortlisted: A-Plant
Despite challenging business conditions, A-Plant says it is experiencing the ‘quality dividend' from its investment and commitment to the fundamentals of good business. In 2008 the company spent £108 million on new equipment - bringing down the average age of its fleet from 3 to 2.1 years - and was one of the rental companies to win work on the massive 2012 London Olympic rental contracts.

Also during 2008 the company re-structured its network of depots, merging smaller depots into Supersites, increasing staff as a result - the company says sales costs have increased from 4% to 6% of turnover. So far 15 of these Supersites have been created and A-Plant is planning 20 new sites.

Training is also an important part of A-Plant's business. The company has a £1 million training budget and provided over 4500 training days during the past year. The company says; "in a year of credit crunch, recession and uncertainty, we have maintained a steady course and are well placed to see this financial storm through."

Shortlisted: Malthus

Norwegian company Malthus has a rental fleet of over 6000 portable accommodation units and is one of the fastest growing rental companies in the Nordic region. Since 1996, revenues have increased by roughly 1600% and the last four years has seen annual growth exceeding 35%.

After many years of strong growth in Norway, Malthus has started expanding internationally, with subsidiaries now in Sweden, Estonia, Russia and Canada. In Russia and Canada, Malthus is focusing on larger oil and gas, mining, and metal processing projects with large needs for temporary accommodation. The company believes its experience from rough conditions on the western coast of Norway will be very relevant both in Russia and in Canada.

The company's growth has been based on its strong engineering competence, and its management believes that its long term prospects are extremely good; "Demanding customers and a rough climate have prepared us for new markets. Product development and international expansion will be the sources for future growth."

Rental Company of the Year (10 depots or less)

Shortlisted: Cofiloc
Based in Treviso, Italy, Cofiloc Spa is a general rental company that was founded in 1980 and has grown steadily, in particular over the past 6 years, with revenues now 45% higher and with a third more employees.

The company stocks a wide range of equipment, including aerial platforms, power, earthmoving, concreting tools and trucks, and has eight depots, with a ninth to open in June this year.

Beyond its core equipment rental activities, the company has a commitment to running efficiently and safely. In 2006 Cofiloc achieved the ISO 9001 Quality Certification from SGS Italia Spa, and the company has recently opened the ‘Cofiloc School', which will be used to train equipment operators.

Shortlisted: Destination Bulgaria (Lifto Centers)

Destination Bulgaria Ltd (Dest Bul) was established in 2003 with the ambitious goal of becoming one of the first professional rental companies in Bulgaria. It started operating with only two truck-mounted aerial lifts, and five years later has 150 machines and a franchise network with 25 partners throughout the country.

Dest Bul's strategy is to create a franchise network using the Lifto Centers brand under which partners operate a small number of lifts. Dest Bul says this strategy is ideal for the country because there is a lack of investment resources for developing a national rental network.

The 25 partners provide a national network operating with consistent standards of operation, coordinated pricing, training, service etc. Dest Bul has managed to cover the country with machines in a short period, at the same time expanding its own rental fleet to around 50 units, the largest being a 55 m working height truck mounted unit (believed to be the biggest aerial lift in Bulgaria).

The next step will be to convert the partners' locations into Lifto Center-branded depots. So far there are Lifto centers in four of Bulgaria's largest cities - Plovdiv, Burgas, Varna and Sofia - and others are planned soon. These centres stock their own machines as well as others provided by Destination Bulgaria.

The strategic goal is the establishment of partners in two thirds of Bulgarian cities, and Lifto Centers in all 28 regions of Bulgaria. To accelerate the completion of Lifto Centers network, the company is planning to attract a foreign investor.

Shortlisted: Høyde Service
Høyde-Service AS (HS) was established by Steinar Kaalstad in 2004, and has now grown into an €4.2 million revenue business with two depots (in Porsgrunn and Oslo) and a fleet of around 250 aerial platforms and telehandlers.

Last year saw the company expand rapidly, with sales increasing almost 70% and net profits rising by 50% to €337500. It added 60 aerials and 10 handlers to its fleet in 2008.

HS sees itself as a service company; "The company`s achievement is largely due to an extremely strong focus on customer service. Our personnel are able to offer a high level of service and flexibility to the customers, and this is the main reason for our success."

To provide this service, HS has its own car fleet and drivers (four trucks and three pick-ups) and has invested in GPS asset monitoring technology for most of its fleet and vehicles. HS uses the system to document the usage of equipment and for alerts when machines need a periodic check-up.

The use of GPS technology has also led to some innovative thinking, with customers offered a two-price system; "The customer is offered a lower rent for days where they don't use the rented equipment. However the equipment stays on site and is available to the customer at all times."

The founder and managing director of HS, Steinar Kaalstad, tries to set a good example with regard to safety and usage of lifts in Norway. He was one of the founders in 1993 of Norway's PLF (personal lift association), and he has since then been the chairman of this association.

Rental Product of the Year

Shortlisted: Dustcontrol (AirCube aircleaner)
Sweden's Dustcontrol launched the DC AirCube 2000 aircleaner in 2008. The AirCube is a high volume air cleaner based on the very successful smaller AirCube that has already entered many rental fleets. It can clean up to 1800m3/h and has a variable speed setting to suit any task.

By cleaning the air through a prefilter and a HEPA H13 filter, hazardous airborne dust like the lethal Respirable Crystalline Silica is removed and clean air returned to the environment. Cleaning the air means the dust problem is not merely moved elsewhere for someone else to breathe in or clean up.

The AirCube can be left running for 24 hours if required and be used as a positive/ negative pressure unit to reduce dust migration. The manufacturer says it is focused on "promoting the awareness of dust on the worksite and how it affects the lungs. By creating an awareness we both improve the lives of the end user and create additional demand for products rented out by the hire companies."

Shortlisted: Hitachi (ZX14-3)
The lightweight yet powerful ZX14-3 mini-excavator is designed for the rental market. Hitachi built the ZX14-3 as a basic model, without too many complicated features, and also took into consideration the appeal of the machine to the end-user by making it simple to operate and comfortable to work in.

The ZX14-3 has an economical, Stage III A compliant 10.7 kW engine to help increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption. It uses the same engine model as the larger ZX17U-2, which gives the ZX14-3 powerful acceleration, and smooth and controlled operation. Hitachi says its power-to-weight ratio is unrivalled in the 1.2-tonne class of mini excavators.

In Europe, it can be transported on a small trailer or 3.5 t truck, which can be driven using a standard driver's licence. Without one of the three buckets available (wide, standard or narrow), it weighs 1350kg.

Hitachi has also simplified routine maintenance and servicing of the ZX14-3, which helps to reduce costs for customers. The easily accessible rear engine cover allows end-users to check and maintain filters and oil levels. The detachable side cover provides access to the radiator and oil cooler, which have been positioned next to each other for easy cleaning.

Safety features of the ZX14-3 are also an important advantage for rental customers. Hitachi has used its experience from larger models to enhance the safety of its mini excavators. The rugged, sturdy D-section frame - already proven on the Hitachi ZX30U-2 - provides reinforcement and protection, and the machine has a low centre of gravity, which gives excellent stability.

Shortlisted: Niftylift (Height Rider 21 Bi-Energy)

The Nifty Height Rider 21 Bi-Energy (HR21DE) is a 21 m working height, 2-wheel-drive work platform that "effortlessly combines outstanding performance with flexibility and ease of use", says the UK manufacturer.

The HR21 is a 20.7 m working height model with a maximum outreach of 12.6 m, and is notable for its compact dimensions and in particular for its low weight - just 6220 kilograms.

The machine's power source - it can run either on its diesel engine or a battery power pack - also makes it an extremely versatile platform, capable of working both inside and out. Since its launch it quickly became Niftylift's best-selling large platform.

The platform has the ability to run on either its diesel or battery power-pack and with non-marking tyres as standard, the HR21DE can work inside or out, for a complete duty cycle, in a far greater number of applications than many of its competitors.

Since its launch last year, the HR21DE has quickly become Niftylift's best selling large self propelled platform, with many of Niftylift's biggest customers now taking it onto their fleets.

ERA/IRN Rental Person of the Year

Shortlisted: Pierre Boels (Boels Verhuur)

Pierre Boels Jr deserves recognition for the growth of the Boels Verhuur business in Europe since he took over from his father as chief executive officer in 1995. At that time the company had around 20 depots in the Netherlands and Germany - it now has 190 depots in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic and reported rental revenues of over €150 million in 2007, making it one of the top 25 rental companies in Europe.

Mr Boels success goes beyond his track record of growth. He has consistently shown himself to be an innovator both in terms of his market strategy and in introducing new products to his fleet.

He has almost single-handedly pioneered the concept of in-store rental desks at big DIY and builders merchants in continental Europe, a policy that sees now Boels represented in almost 1000 ‘big box' locations in Europe. This strategy has helped promote Boels to an enormous range of customers, and also helped promote the rental concept in general in Europe.

In addition to his wider contribution, the shortlisting recognises that 2008 was a significant year for Bouls Verhuur. It made several acquisitions in 2008 - surveying equipment company POL Geotechniek; the Cat-Rent rental business of Belgian Bobcat dealer Vangaever; and Netherlands party and events rental company, diff'Rent - and opened a new 4000 m2 ‘Mega Party Rentals' depot in Germany.

Shortlisted: Erkki Norvio (Ramirent)
Erkki Norvio is nominated for a career dedicated to rental; a career in which he played a central role in the creation of Ramirent - one of Europe's largest rental company's - and which continues today in his capacity as a board member of Ramirent and of the European Rental Association.

As CEO of Ramirent from 1986 to 2005, he was a true rental pioneer, leading the Ramirent group from national status into a leading international player. Now, as an ERA board member, he his putting his enormous experience and knowledge to use for the greater good of the rental industry.

His award nomination describes well his legacy at Ramirent; "He has had a lot to do in creating a great sense of pride with a company-wide Rami spirit based on responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit, honesty, openness and customer focus...The Ramirent culture nurtures people with an energetic, can-do attitude - embracing initiative and daring to do things differently, just like Erkki did."

The Judging Panel

The five person judging panel was as follows:

Arne Bugge, managing director, Norwegian Rental Association
Formerly managing director of one of Norway's best known rental companies, UCO, Mr Bugge is also a founding member and current secretary general of the Norwegian Rental Association.

Gérard Déprez, ERA president
Founding president and managing director of French rental company Loxam, Mr Déprez brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of the rental business.

Michel Petitijean, ERA secretary general
Michel Petitjean is a former senior rental executive with experience of running rental businesses in Europe, Canada and the US. He is the European Rental Association's first secretary general.

Peter Schrader, managing director, MVS Zeppelin
A board-member of ERA since its founding three years ago, Mr Schrader is managing director of one of Europe's most progressive rental companies, MVS Zeppelin in Germany.

Chris Sleight, editor, Construction Europe, KHL Group
Representing KHL Group, Chris Sleight is Editor of both Construction Europe and International Construction magazines.

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