H&E Equipment, Ashtead, & US Equipment Rental Demand & Rates

Former SVP at H&E Equipment

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Executive Bio

Former SVP at H&E Equipment

The executive has over 25 years experience in the equipment rental industry and is the former SVP at H&E Equipment, where he was responsible for managing a region of the US. Prior to H&E, the executive worked at NationsRent, which was acquired by Ashtead after bankruptcy.Read more

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Interview Transcript

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What were the biggest lessons in how this can go wrong through the cycle?

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One of the best ways to figure out a way to be successful in a business is to understand how not to do things, and that was my experience at Nations Rent; the lack of discipline and cohesiveness. If you're going to spend money, spend it smartly. Understand you have to see the demand before you supply. I saw good management at PricewaterhouseCoopers and J&J, so I was able to compare and contrast, but those were the major learning lessons. Then ultimately, how you treat people. There is a level of autonomy that needs to happen, but you need to understand the limits and barriers so you can still fulfill your business plan, but allow people to operate within their zone. That keeps the good people at the company.

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How do you think the players would react if a similar crash happened today?

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There's more discipline and understanding of what works for companies. As time has gone on, those who have been thinking about it, have different channels of selling their equipment. Some have figured out you don't have to sell it domestically; you can sell it internationally. Barring a disaster, even if you look at Covid, because there's more information and understanding of the market, there's better chance that the decline, given the same market conditions, wouldn't be as drastic as 2008/9.

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When you joined H&E, how did you compete against United and Sunbelt?

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The companies I've been at always took more of a relationship approach, meaning sales rep to customer, as opposed to some of the blanket abilities Sunbelt and United can do, which is more generated towards pushing customers online. We try to develop a relationship with a customer and be there for them. Instead of calling United, they would call a sales rep or a person, and they would be more comfortable calling that person because they had a relationship. The other approach was we always tried to keep fresher and newer equipment, the benefit being people want newer equipment. They want to use something that looks and feels newer and has newer technology. Keeping newer equipment was always something we used as a selling tool.

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