Kardie Equipment Rents High-Reach Platforms for Non-Wind Work

TGM Wind Services, a provider of high-reach aerial lift services for the wind-power industry since 2010, has launched a subsidiary company focused on renting truck-mounted aerial lifts with heights to 295 ft. nationwide to other industries.  

The new subsidiary, Kardie Equipment, is headquartered in the same office as its parent company, TGM Wind Services, in Bee Cave, Texas, part of metropolitan Austin.

CEO of both companies, Kevin Darby, coined the name by combining portions of his childrens’ names. “I wanted a company name that was totally different than anything else out there,” he says.

Although headquartered in Austin, Kardie’s current fleet of 16 truck-mounted aerial lifts with platform heights from 230 to 295 ft. is spread strategically across the country, and any unit can go anywhere in the United States or Canada to meet a customer need.

Darby says three units that are based in Chicago keep busy in the Upper Midwest, while others are based in Spokane, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Dallas, Texas; Houston, Texas; and Las Vegas, Nev.  

He notes, however, that Kardie’s truck-mounted aerials have worked all across the country, from Maine to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Washington, and Nevada.

Citing a utilization rate of more than 80%, Darby says, “Each rig nearly always goes straight from one job to the next, and the average trip is 500 miles or less.” Because of that, Kardie charges only for mobilization, but not de-mobilization.

Currently, Kardie’s 16 truck-mounted aerials, all Brontos, are mounted on specialized carriers and need over-weight permits for highway travel, but no dimensional permits. “To help simplify transportation, our staff experts can help customers arrange for the needed permits,” Darby says.

Over the next 18 months, however, Darby says Kardie will expand its fleet by adding new Bronto aerials in the 175- to 235-ft. range that are mounted on traditional commercial truck chassis. The lighter chassis will bring the total weights down so that the new units will need no special permits for highway travel.

“The aerial lifts on the new units will be Bronto models that offer more articulation, which will make maneuvering the platform even easier for customers working on construction sites, in refineries, in power plants, and on other projects where space is tight,” says Darby.

“We have North America’s largest fleet of Brontos with heights of 200 ft. or more, and perhaps the largest fleet of Brontos in North America, period,” says Darby. We plan to stay 100% Bronto.

Nearly all of Kardie’s rentals include an operator who is responsible for moving the carrier, selecting the set-up location, and setting the outriggers, but not running the lift. “Selecting the proper set-up location, checking ground conditions, and setting up the lift is the most complex part of the operation,” says Darby. “We want a highly trained person who knows the machine to do that.”  Currently, the company has 35 certified operators.

He says that the operator will thoroughly train the customer’s workers to operate the aerial lift, but does not generally operate the lift for them. Instead, he or she remains on the ground and monitors the truck and outriggers while the aerial is in use.

For a very few special customers who own Brontos of their own or who have someone expert in the setup and operation of Bronto equipment on staff, Kardie will rent a machine bare, but those instances are few and far between. “It’s safer for us and for the customer if our expert does the setup,” Darby says.

With machines working all across the country in all time zones, Kardie operates a 24-hour parts-and-service hotline to support its customers and operators, although Darby notes that the operators have service training and can handle many minor situations themselves. The support staff includes four factory-trained mechanics and the company’s operations are managed by master mechanic Keith Darby, who was named Access Pro of the Year in 2014 by an industry organization.

A welcome recent trend for the new company is being involved in re-rental to help fill the high-reach needs of other rental companies like Ahern, HERC, and United Rentals. “We welcome re-rentals and are happy to help rental houses meet the needs of their customers,” says Darby.

Some of the high-profile worksites that have recently seen Kardie's high-reach Brontos include the new Vikings Stadium in Minneapolis, the new bridge being built in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., and the Red Bull race in Indianapolis. An upcoming stop includes the Red Bull air races in Las Vegas.