In order to succeed in any business, one needs to address the current situation and ask the question: “What can I do to increase revenue while also meeting my clients' needs?” The answer might be to offer clients new services or products, or perhaps to physically expand the existing facility. In the case of Pennsylvania-based Gap Power, the owners decided to utilize both options and built a new facility to handle their diversification into the large equipment market.
In 1986, Willy and Myma Jean Stoltzfus opened Gap Power in Gap, Pa. Almost 20 years into the business, they found that the original building was too crowded and not efficient in handling their plans for growth and branching out into the large equipment sector, which included Skytraks and JLG 60-foot lifts. In early 2005, they took a vacant, 6-acre lot located two blocks from the main store and built a facility strictly for handling large machines. The new building is situated on the lot in such a way that its protruding office area allows the crew a view of the equipment yard, truck dock and customer loading/unloading area.
“Manager Steve Mabry has capitalized on the store/yard layout by coaching his shop and yard personnel to always be ready to drop what they are doing and move quickly to the ‘flight deck' for assistance to the customer,” says Willy Stoltzfus, owner/product manager for Gap Power. “In many cases, [the crew] is loosening the tie-downs while the customer is still exiting his truck, having been alerted by radio or seeing the incoming customer from the shop adjoining the office.”
Having a separate facility for larger equipment helped Gap Power's business because it cut the load/unload time in half, according to Stoltzfus. The new facility is located on the main north/south road in Lancaster County, while the original store is on the east/west road. This arrangement of the facilities has raised awareness to potential customers and has increased rental and sales volume.
Elam King, owner of Strasburg, Pa.-based Elam King Builder rents from Gap Power about three or four times a week and relies on the company for the majority of his rental needs.
“I am pleased with the service at Gap Power and appreciate the quick transactions,” says King. “Sometimes we'll be on a job and a machine will break down, but Gap Power sends someone to make the necessary repairs or bring out a new piece of equipment. If we're a long ways from the rental facility, they will drop off the rental equipment, otherwise we'll pick it up with our trailer.”
Gap Power delivers a majority of rented equipment to the customers on the jobsite while only 15 to 20 percent of rentals are picked up. The new facility allows the delivery process to run smoothly because it was designed with a few factors in mind such as a circular equipment flow.
“Machines returned first go to the refuel area, then to high-volume mud wash, then to high-pressure wash, to the service bay and then either to a truck, yard or ‘flight deck' for staging,” says Stoltzfus.
Customers renting large equipment typically call ahead with their orders about 90 percent of the time, according to Stoltzfus, even for small equipment.
“It seems like our customers want the assurance of availability, so we take lots of reservations on our computer,” says Stoltzfus.
If a client needs a piece of large equipment and a smaller piece in the same pickup, the process is made simple and time efficient by the crew at Gap Power. The contract is completed at either the office or the new facility for larger equipment, and then the renter is directed to the pickup spots while the yard crew is notified. Renters are encouraged to simply drop off all rented machines at the new building, and then the crew moves them over about once per day to the correct location.
Gap Power has a staff of 35 employees and has two branches; one in Gap, Pa., and the other in Quarryville, Pa. Gap Power rents various equipment from hand tools to skid steers, excavators, manlifts and high-reach forklifts.