Spain's three main rental organisations for general equipment, aerial platforms and cranes have created a national rental confederation called ConfalQ (Confederation del Alquiler). The organisations believe that working together will help Spain's beleaguered rental sector in lobbying government on issues such as payment terms.
The three associations, ANAPAT (aerial rental companies), ASEAMAC (general rentals) and FANAGRUMAC (crane rental), will retain their own identities and secretariats, but work together through ConfalQ on initiatives including training, lobbying and extending the services they offer to members.
Cesar Caudevilla, president of FANAGRUMAC and the inaugural president of ConfalQ, speaking at the Smopyc exhibition in Zaragoza where the new body was launched, said; "The goal is to bring Spain's rental industry together, to offer more services to our members, and to reduce our costs and find synergies between the three associations." The three have 180 members and represent around 80% of the total rental market in Spain.
Mr Caudevilla, who is also chief executive officer of Zaragoza-based crane rental company Nor-Este, said one particular issue was the payment terms and conditions. Contractors in Spain take a long time to pay rental companies, a problem that has been exacerbated by the recession.
The creation of the confederation comes as Spain's rental sector continues to grapple with a severe downturn. Since the peak in 2007, rental activity in the country has declined by between 60% and 80%, and this year the confederation is predicting a further drop of as much as 10% in the general rental market and a stable crane rental sector.
The association is realistic about recovery prospects. Jose Maria Marsal Minguella, the GAM executive who is president of ANAPAT, told IRN that recovery could start in two to five years time, with political uncertainty (Spain holds a general election next year) and continued weakness in the banking sector combining to hinder recovery prospects.
ConfalQ is not calling on the Spanish government to invest heavily in infrastructure. Rafael Garcia Contreras, director general of rental company ALCO and president of ASEAMAC, said there was an understanding that there is little money for government to spend, and that it was a question of "spending better, not more."
Mr Minguella said; "We are aware that the government has the money it has. We are not asking for anything extraordinary."
Spain's rental companies have responded to the crisis by reducing the sizes of their fleets and cutting costs. Although much of this work has already been done, Mr Minguella said there was still a 20-30% oversupply of equipment on the market.
One strategy that some are pursuing is to establish rental operations outside of Spain. GAM is the best example of this, but both Mr Caudevilla and Mr Contreras have started to do the same with their rental companies.
Mr Caudevilla's Nor-Este crane business established a rental operation in Colombia one and a half years ago and opened in Brazil five months ago, and Mr Contreras' ALCO will open a Chilean operation in two or three months time.