ARA’s Return to the Big Easy a Positive Event

Recent economic reports and anecdotes by exhibitors and attendees at The Rental Show made for an upbeat mood this week in New Orleans, La. After several years of low rental rates, sales declines, and a stagnant housing construction market, the crowd’s cautious optimism was an ongoing theme throughout the show.

The American Rental Association made its return to the Big Easy after a 10-year departure due to the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. As The Rental Show convened, the association and its publication, Rental Management, brought news that the equipment rental industry outperformed the industries it serves in 2011, and the momentum is expected to carry into 2012. Based on figures compiled by IHS Global Insight, ARA expects the North American equipment rental industry revenue to increase at least 6.9 percent in 2012 to total $33.5 billion at year end. Forecasted revenue growth in 2012 will be more than three times the 2 percent growth in GDP forecast for the United States this year.

Speaking with manufacturers at the show, Lift and Access found that smaller OEMs were reporting they were having “significantly better” sales in late 2011 and record January sales this year. Major manufacturers like JLG also have reported improvements in sales. Last week, the Oshkosh subsidiary said it received strong orders in its first fiscal quarter (starting Nov. 1, 2011) as rental companies replace aging equipment in North America and parts of Europe. Through several conversations made during the show, the unofficial consensus is the lifting equipment industry appears to be on the mend.

Of course, The Rental Show was a key place to find out opinions on the recent news of United Rentals acquiring RSC. According to one source, the biggest by-product of the acquisition is it will allow rental rates to firm up. Rental companies, particularly independents who have to compete with the rate structures set by the national companies, will be able to raise rates and receive a better ROI on their equipment. It also may open up the opportunity for independents to strengthen in certain markets where a competitor will be eliminated, another source said.

At the beginning of The Rental Show, John McClelland, ARA’s vice president of governmental affairs, made comment that companies who opted to rent rather than buy equipment during the rough economy have found it to be a good strategy and will continue using it even when the economy gets better. As you’ll read below, manufacturers focused on the rental industry are continuing to build products for this growing market—products that both mature rental customers and newcomers to the market will find beneficial.

Displays and Introductions

Niftylift, Charlotte, N.C., displayed its SP50 Hybrid 4X4 aerial work platform for the first time in North America. It offers 49’6” platform height, 30-foot outreach, 24-foot up-and-over height, and 500-pound unrestricted platform capacity. It provides that performance in a package is just 6’7” wide, 7’0” tall when stowed, 16’5” long for shipping, and that weighs only 10,500 pounds. Hybrid power saves energy and lets the SP50 Hybrid run on battery power when exhaust-free operation is needed. It features CAN digital control, and is the first Niftylift model in North America to have it. Niftylift’s SiOPS operator protection and ToughCage platform come standard.

TireSocks, Centennial, Colo., displayed the prototype of a new cover for outrigger pads. The product is so new that Tiresocks has not yet named it. It is designed to help minimize the possibility of outrigger action from pulling up carpeting and to protect carpeting and finished floors from marking by outrigger pads. TireSocks expects to launch the new product in the next month or two.

Tracked Lifts, Syosset, N.Y., North America’s distributor for OMME Lift and Platform Basket aerial work platforms, displayed an OMMELift 2350RJ and a Platform Basket 18.90. Although neither of those models is new, Tracked Lifts President Mike Hrycak announced that the company has brought the first Platform Basket 18.90 with dual-electric-power to the United States. Designed for indoor use, it comes with both 24V battery power and 110V plug-in power, standard. The battery power circuit and the plug-in circuit each has its own hydraulic pump. Either motor-and-pump combination can run the machine, providing extra reliability. In addition, notes Hrycak, if the batteries run low, the plug-in motor and its pump can power the machine for continued operation while the batteries recharge.

Snorkel, Elwood, Kan, showed the A62JRT, which is launched at the Lift and Access Showcase & Symposium last November. Designed and built in North America, the Snorkel A62JRT is a 61’8” platform height, articulated boom built on Snorkel’s Polaris chassis. Read more about this model in the January-February issue of Lift and Access.

HH-Intellitech USA LLC, Glen Ellyn, Ill., was at The Rental Show for the first time, offering products for construction companies and manufacturing facilities that need to lift glass materials at height. Often challenged with having to maneuver heavy sheets of fragile material at awkward angles, these contractors can now lift these materials with a variety of machines, including the Gerenuk 1100 hydraulic remote-controlled multi-purpose lifter, the self-propelled GlasLift 770, and the GlasLift 1100. The company said it is looking for representatives and dealers/distributors in the United States.

Camoplast Solideal, Charlotte, N.C., showed its new solid-rubber tire for telehandlers, which offers users better performance, longer life, and lower overall operating cost than foam-filled pneumatic tires. Named the Solidair TLH, the unique new tire uses a patented triangular aperture that Camoplast Solideal says offers superior comfort and unequalled lateral stability. The triangular apertures are stronger, more durable, and don’t build up heat like round apertures.

­­­Manitou­, ­­West Bend, Wis., has released the MT 5519 telescopic handler, which features a low-profile, compact frame with an overall height of 6’4” and a tight turning radius of 11 feet. Designed for use in low buildings, under parking garages and in confined job sites, the MT 5519’s low-profile boom reaches to a height of 19’1” and features the same welded box-section design as larger MT Series telescopic handlers.

­­­Manitou­, ­­West Bend, Wis., has released the MT 5519 telescopic handler, which features a low-profile, compact frame with an overall height of 6’4” and a tight turning radius of 11 feet. Designed for use in low buildings, under parking garages and in confined job sites, the MT 5519’s low-profile boom reaches to a height of 19’1” and features the same welded box-section design as larger MT Series telescopic handlers.