There are no shortcuts to creating value in the access rental industry, said Kevin Appleton, CEO of the Lavendon Group, the world’s largest access-only rental company, speaking at the first Europlatform conference last week in Basel, Switzerland.
“We have found the quality of engineering to be the key driver to create value,” said Appleton in his presentation on responsible financial models for access rental. “The long-term future is likely to belong to businesses run on a cautious and consistent basis.”
Appleton warned access rental companies against growing too quickly. Companies who build their fleet quickly with high investments may find themselves struggling to maintain debt repayments when market conditions worsen. He said an operating model based on extending the lifetime of access equipment, rather than keeping machines for just five or six years, was more likely to build value.
This view was echoed by Pierrick Lourdain, group sales manager of the Haulotte Group, who predicted bankruptcies among several European rental companies in the coming months. He said this might in the future force manufacturers to become more directly involved in rental in order to protect their investments.
Lourdain’s presentation examined the question of whether manufacturers can or should rent. He explained the circumstances under which manufacturers will find it viable to buy up overstretched rental companies or even start their own. Lourdain concluded that the best way forward was for each player in the industry to concentrate on doing what it does best.
The world’s largest truck mount, Wumag’s 103-meter ATA 1003, made its debut during the Europlatform conference next to the 105-meter hotel tower. The machine, owned by rental specialist Eisele of Germany, drew spectators to experience this safe and effective way to work at height, with the use of full-body safety harnesses.
The Europlatform conference, organized by the International Powered Access Federation and industry publication Access International, attracted more than 100 executives, senior managers and owners of access rental companies across Europe.
Speakers included Markus Schnyder, a safety engineer from the Swiss safety authority Suva, who showed why safety is a management issue, and Steve Shaughnessy of A-Plant, who looked at what Europe’s rental companies can learn from the U.S.
The next Europlatform will be held in September 2008.