German Caterpillar dealer Zeppelin has created a separate business unit for all its rental operations, pooling the rental activities of MVS Zeppelin in Germany and Austria with those of Zeppelin businesses in Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The new strategic business unit (SBU Rental) will encourage cross-national cooperation and transfer of rental expertise across the different countries, and help create synergies, said Zeppelin.
"It's not about harmonizing every tiny step a subsidiary takes", said Wolfgang Hahnenberg, managing director of both SBU Rental and MVS Zeppelin, "We know that rental in general is a local business. We will promote a dialogue and exchange of experiences. I'm sure that each of our rental companies has best practices that could benefit others."
This pooling of rental activities was reflected in the recent IRN100 survey, where MVS Zeppelin's annual revenues grew by 15.5% to €230 million. This moved it up in the ranking from 39 to 35 and made it the 12th largest rental company in Europe, and number nine if you exclude crane rental companies.
Zeppelin's rental operations include its core rental business in Germany and Austria run by MVS Zeppelin, as well as its most recent rental business, in Russia, where Zeppelin Rental OOO is providing "lots of equipment" for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games projects. Zeppelin is renting mainly Caterpillar equipment in Sochi.
"Even though the Russian rental market is just at the outset, a lot of companies already accept the business model rental very well and clearly see the advantages", said Mr Hahnenberg. "The demand for rental services is high now and expected to grow even further."
In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Zeppelin said there is good potential, with local dealer Phoenix Zeppelin operating rental and sales businesses side by side. In these countries, in addition to Caterpillar construction and mining machinery, Phoenix rents allied equipment for forestry, material handling, smaller tools and aerial platforms.
MVS Zeppelin is meanwhile expanding the product offering in Austria, having invested in power generation, heating and aerial platforms in 2010 and this year.
In Germany, its largest rental market, MVS Zeppelin has recently expanded its offering with the acquisition in January of GSL GmbH, based in Hünxe. GSL is a specialist at renting tools to industrial companies.
Also in the last two years MVS has expanded its offering to include traffic management products, site safety and portable accommodation products, as well as targeting new customers in industrial businesses and the public sector.