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APRIL 2013 issue of
Rental Management

Applying lessons learned overseas

International rental business leadership program participants benefit from experiences

During the past five years, those involved in the international rental business leadership program, offered by the Global Rental Alliance and administered by the ARA Foundation, have found the experience to make a lasting impression on their individual businesses. Below is a sampling of what both the visiting rental professional and the host gained from this rental connection experience.

As the first participant in the program, Peter Maginnis, former owner and president of SoCal Rentals in Glendora, Calif., and current owner and president of Harrisburg Self Storage, based out of Charlotte, N.C., had the opportunity to spend quality time at the different branches of Kennards Hire P/L, based in Seven Hills, New South Wales, Australia. “I was able to use some of the ideas and philosophies that I learned from Kennards in my own company. I also have used some of the people skills in not only my rental business, but also in my everyday life,” he says.

In 2009, second program participant Todd Daymont, CERP, vice president of American Party Rentals in Durham, N.C., spent time at Harry the Hirer’s party operation in Richmond, Victoria, Australia. The hands-on experience that he gained working on large structures “had the most direct and quantifiable impact on what I have accomplished here at home since my return,” he says.

“Our company did not have large structure-style tents. My experiences in Australia provided me with the knowledge and confidence I needed to invest in these structures and grow that portion of our business. Safety standards and practices were another part of the tenting experience that really opened my eyes. The Australians are head over heels for safety. I reflect on these experiences time and time again whenever I am involved in our own site assessments, engineering challenges and installations. Safety is a mandatory and routine practice for my installation crews as a direct result of seeing the way things are done in Australia,” Daymont says.

In addition, Daymont has implemented Harry the Hire’s “dynamic inventory control system” — a way to provide employees “with all the necessary information about any inventory item,” he says. “The implementation of this system has helped us to reduce the amount of unnecessary effort involved in disseminating all of this information to the people who need it on a regular basis.”

Matt Gordon, from Centenary Hire in Darra, Queensland, Australia, spent four weeks in 2010 with owner James Clipperton at his Nor-Val Rentals operations in Armstrong and Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. Because of that experience, he now “trailers a lot more equipment,” which has allowed him to “add new equipment items to our hire stock.” He also has implemented portable toilets into his inventory mix, which made his business a “more complete hire service and has increased the revenue received from existing customers,” he says.

Load slips were successfully used by Mark Scarce, owner of Camden Hire in Narellan and Casula, Australia. Since returning from her job shadow experience with Scarce in 2010, Brittany Haas, CERP, manager, has made strides in implementing these slips at her family-owned Crown Rental operations in Rosemount and Burnsville, Minn. “We are slowly improving on them and getting used to using them. It requires a lot of training and time to do it. It is not easy to change things from what people are used to, but, so far, it is helping,” she says.

Last year, Angie Venekamp, manager of Rental Network in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada, also job-shadowed at Scarce’s hire operation. “Mark has a very organized operation in Australia,” she says. “I have gained several new ideas such as how to more efficiently execute trucking at our store and several new storage strategies.”

It wasn’t just the visiting participants who ended up making changes at their businesses. As a result of their time with their visiting rental operators, the hosts also implemented new ways of doing business.

For instance, Harold Sater, managing director at A & A Tents d/b/a Encore Event Rentals in Shreveport, La., who hosted Michael Hayek from Australia’s Kennards Hire P/L Girraween, New South Wales, operation in 2009, “learned more about computer usage during Michael’s visit, implemented more use of our computer system and started using online 24/7 quoting of our rental products and equipment,” Sater says.

Scarce also implemented new concepts as a result of serving host to both Haas and Venekamp. “One really good idea was being a little more creative with our existing equipment and transport costing in our party and events division,” he says. That new creativity has “increased utilization of equipment and increased revenue due to modified transport fees,” he adds.

Australia’s Kennard Hire P/L Chairman Peter Lancken, who hosted the program’s first participant, Peter Maginnis in 2008, learned that “Peter has great skills in business development and this ‘rubbed off’ on Kennards’ own efforts in this area. We have developed a very effective sales approach at Kennards and Pete’s input was a great help with this,” Lancken says.

“The open and frank discussion that I was able to have with my host about areas of business, such as employment and financials, was valuable,” Gordon says.

Scarce couldn’t agree more. “There are many valuable aspects to the exchange program, but I think the most valuable would be the knowledge sharing. By being involved, you experience a unique opportunity to learn from one another, and I think that experience
is invaluable.”

For Daymont, it was the sharing of conceptual ideas related to corporate culture that “really stood out for me,” he says. “Their [Harry the Hire’s] large employee base helped perpetuate some of those concepts. In a smaller setting, it is difficult to achieve a self-perpetuated culture like the one at Harry’s. Nonetheless, simple ideas like mandatory uniforms really go a long way to bring a level of unity among employees, and therefore the self-perpetuating nature of a strong corporate culture. Another simple idea that helped to perpetuate the culture was the in-house monthly newsletter. Birthdays, special announcements, sporting events and in-house Ping-Pong tournament standings were all covered in a one-page handout that was made available to all employees and to customers at the pickup counter. The customers and outsiders like me got a real kick out of seeing the corporate culture at work. It was just one more element that set them apart from anyone else,” he says.

That cultural exchange also was important for Lancken and his employees at Kennards. “Pete worked in various locations and parts of the business. This enabled significant cultural exchange and learning between Pete and our people — most importantly, the way we do things at Kennards compared to Pete’s own experience and business ways. I am sure that has provided value to all parties,” he says.

Thanks to these job-shadowing experiences, both the visiting and the host rental operator learned from each other and were able to take away valuable strategies that they have incorporated into their own respective businesses. That aspect alone has been a tremendous boon to all involved, these rental operators say.

Interested in participating?

Those who take part in the Global Rental Alliance’s international rental business leadership program are ambassadors for the American Rental Association (ARA) and their individual businesses.

Find out more about this program and what it takes to participate by contacting Jenni Venema, ARA Foundation director of development, at 800-334-2177, ext. 236, or jennifer.venema@ararental.org.






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