What are the National Equipment Rental Companies?

What are the National Equipment Rental Companies?

National Rental Equipment Suppliers

“The Nationals” (and we’re not talking baseball)

If you’re in construction, then you’ve probably rented equipment before – skid steer loaders, scissor lifts, generators, light towers and the like. And when you go to rent, you have a choice.

Equipment rental companies come in all shapes and sizes, but vary in their geographic range, equipment type offered, and professionalization of support systems.

Equipment rental companies can generally be placed into one of three types:

  • National Rental Companies
  • Regional Rental Companies
  • Local Rental Companies

Here, we will focus on the first type – National Rental Companies.

“The Nationals”, as they are often described, are the companies that have managed to put together a large American (often Canada as well) footprint of branch locations that allow large and super large contractors the capability to have reliable, predictable partners anywhere in their geographic area.

The big three National Rental Companies in the USA are:

We will talk more about each specific rental company shortly. But first, let’s talk about the general trends among these three companies. Understanding what sets National Rental Companies apart from Regional and Local Rental Companies is a critical part of your equipment rental sourcing strategy.

General Trends Among the Nationals

Increasing Growth through Acquisition

United Rentals and Sunbelt Rentals each averaged 15+ acquisitions per year in 2018 and 2019. This inorganic growth strategy often is connected to new region expansion, where they identify small rental suppliers (often <$10MM revenue) and absorb them.

Extensive Asset Type Availability

One of the main benefits when working with a very large supplier is their deep offering of asset types. This includes the number of asset types at any specific location, but the capability of a National supplier to marshall assets from their overall network.

Note, that this may also happen through equipment re-rental – which veils the true asset type capability of any specific rental supplier.

Increasingly Digital

Not all rental suppliers are equal. With 7,000+ rental companies in North America alone, digital capability is highly variable. The Nationals, today, are significantly ahead on all things digital, including operational metrics tracking, ecommerce-based ordering, digital marketing funnel, asset management, telematics integration and more. The long tail of rental suppliers (in fact, pretty much all rental suppliers after the top 10 in the RER100) generally lack the digital capability of United Rentals, and to some extent, Sunbelt Rentals.

Note – we here at IronUp hope for a future of more digital parity, as competition is the foundation of a healthy rental supplier market. Via IronUp, contractors can enable a digital rental workflow for any supplier, to not only their benefit, but also any rental supplier supporting their need through IronUp.

That being said, even the Nationals are overly reliant on phone-based communications and manual reports. For contractors, this digital gap can only be overcome by implementing a standard software platform used by all of their rental supplier network.

Expansion Beyond the Continental US

Europe and beyond seems to be the new rallying cry for the Nationals. Most recently, Sunbelt Rentals took their brand to Europe, rebranding their much smaller European counterpart “Sunbelt Rentals”. This is no small consideration when you realize that the european accepted term is “for hire”, not “rental”. This expansion is an important strategic consideration for super large contrators that may be looking for a global partner.

Characteristics of Each National Equipment Supplier

United Rentals

United Rentals

More Detail on United Rentals

Total Revenue, 2019: $9,351,000,000
Location: Stamford, Connecticut, USA
Number of Branch Locations: 880+
Telematics Reporting: Available
Online Purchase: Available
Number of Asset Types Available: High
Website: www.unitedrentals.com

Sunbelt Rentals

More details on Sunbelt Rentals

Sunbelt Rentals

Total Revenue, 2019: $5,800,000,000
Location: Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
Number of Branch Locations: 700+
Telematics Reporting: Available
Online Purchase: Available
Number of Asset Types Available: High
Website: www.sunbeltrentals.com

HERC Rentals

More details on HERC Rentals

HERC Rentals

Total Revenue, 2019: $1,999,000,000
Location: Springs, FL, USA
Number of Branch Locations: 275+
Telematics Reporting: Deepends
Online Purchase: Available
Number of Asset Types Available: Medium/High
Website: www.hercrentals.com

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