Champion Rentals' Major Aerial Lift Purchase from Haulotte

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In the aerial lift rental industry, many independent rental houses are thriving once again after several tumultuous years. Privately owned Champion Rentals in Houston stuck out the tough times and recently reported to Lift and Access that it has inked a $2.5-million deal with the Haulotte Group, Archbold, Ohio, to purchase more than 100 Haulotte and BilJax machines. The purchase includes 11 BilJax X-Booms, towable aerial lifts, and trailers, and more than 90 Haulotte units ranging from 19-ft. scissor lifts to 80-ft. boom lifts.

Like many companies, the three-location rental operation had to adjust to meet the economic realities of the recent recession. “When the recession hit, we had to make some adjust- ments and decided to age our fleet longer than we historically have,” says Aaron Horsley, vice president of operations for Champion Rentals. “We didn’t purchase much in 2009 and 2010, but we are now in a re-fleeting and modernization phase.”

Champion has rented and sold Haulotte aerial work platforms since 2002. This purchase brings Champion Rentals’ fleet of aerial lifts to more than 350 units, with Haulotte and BilJax machines making up about 95%, according to Horsley. Champion Rentals’ recent purchase includes 103 Haulotte and BilJax machines.

“This is a big fleet investment for Cham- pion,” said Craig DeKarske, Haulotte’s Southeast and Southwest sales manager. “It's one of the largest orders that Haulotte has received in the United States and the biggest from Champion.”

The large buy has a combined purpose. Horsley says, “Some units will replace older machines in Champion’s fleet, while others will serve to expand the fleet in order to better serve the needs of our customers.” Machines started shipping in May, and the company expects to receive all equipment before the end of summer.

Southern-style jobs

In the South, aerial lift rental customers include contractors, plumbers, glaziers, painters, mechanical contractors, plant facilities, maintenance, municipalities, government branches, and more.

One particular niche product moving into the area is the X-Boom lightweight self-propelled boom lift. With two models available—the 45-ft. platform height 45XA and 55-ft. platform height 55XA—these units were developed with low ground pressure for sensitive surfaces, such as landscaping, designer concrete, and interior floors. The unit is equipped with a dual DC electric/ diesel power source that allows the machines to work indoors and out.

Using hydraulic outriggers that set up in less than 30 seconds, the X-Boom units do not need heavy counterweights to balance the lift. Because the aerials are lightweight, weighing 6,000 lbs. or less, the lifts can be towed on a utility trailer attached to a medium-duty SUV or truck. No commercial driver’s license is required.

Ideal for homeowners, small contractors, and institutions such as schools and municipalities, the X-Boom offers a 4.5-mph drive speed. For maintenance applications that often use trailer-mounted aerial lifts, such as changing lightbulbs in a parking lot, the X-Boom lets operators move quickly from one light to the next without having to reconnect the lift to a truck. They can do the job, return to the ground, and travel to the next light pole without skipping a beat.

Over the years, Champion Rentals has had success with its Haulotte aerial lifts. A Houston-based fabrication company required a team of equipment to help with post-Hurricane Katrina cleanup. The company designed a lock system for one of the Mississippi River tributaries in New Orleans. According to Horsley, the project had a 60-day deadline, and Champion supplied close to 30 scissor lifts and boom lifts, as well as light towers and welders, to help the contractors of the massive project meet its tight timeline.

Independent rental houses are once again poised for growth. Champion Rentals looks forward to continuing to expand its fleet of Haulotte and BilJax aerial lifts.