Keith Montle, regional manager; Steve Wohnoutka, owner; and Chad Clark, store manager
2013 Dynamic Dozen No. 11: Superior Rents Inc.
Like the dials on an aircraft, business spreadsheets are all about numbers and can guide an owner to the desired destination.
Superior Rents co-owner Steve Wohnoutka is an expert reader of both numerical formats. His early careers included time as a Missouri Highway Patrol trooper and a helicopter pilot and as a medivac pilot for Mercy LifeLine. He, and fellow trooper, pilot and brother Dan Wohnoutka, started Superior Rents in 2005 as “just another iron in the fire,” along with other endeavors including everything from property development to breeding Boer goats.
Soon the brothers realized the businesses potential and the venture quickly became much more than a side job. Steve Wohnoutka says in the early years the business was built like so many others, by “lots of 110-hour work weeks.” That work ethic, and a never-say-die attitude have pushed Superior Rents to 2012 revenues of nearly $1.6 million.
“Businesses usually don’t fail because they can’t make it,” he says. “Business owners give up when they decide they don’t want to do it anymore. Almost never is anyone really dead – they’re just done. We just never decided to be done.”
Wohnoutka still relies on the power of the numbers, keeping detailed records on customer rental patterns. He sorts his company’s business data in every conceivable way, plotting customer addresses and project locations on the map, and studying retail expansion patterns. He looks for anything he can to pinpoint who and where his customers are, but – more importantly – who and where they aren’t.
“Everybody has an idea of what their business is,” he says. “But a lot of times when you get to looking in the guts of it, you come to realize maybe you aren’t who you thought you were. I spent a lot of time understanding who we really are, and that’s why – after the crash of 2009–10 – we’re still here and on the Dynamic Dozen list.”
The difficult years not only tested Superior Rents’ resilience, but also changed the way the company does business. Currently, Wohnoutka’s customers are split between 70 percent commercial, industrial and retail, and 30 percent rentals to private individuals. Additionally, Wohnoutka said some smaller customers began choosing more time-consuming construction methods to avoid rental costs, and he saw an uptick in rentals from larger companies that had not previously been renters.
“A lot of contractors were stuck sitting on equipment when the industry bottomed out, making payments on machines they weren’t using,” he says. “I think that’s made a lot of people less prone to own, which has obviously been good for our business.”
Superior Rents has posted a three-year revenue growth of 65 percent and increased staff by 20 percent during the same period.
Later this year, the company plans to open a fourth store, at 5617 S. Campbell Ave. in Springfield, that would bring the total number of Superior Rents’ employees to 16. The new location will augment the current company headquarters at 3500 E. Kearney St., the original store in Bolivar, and a 2012 retail addition in Joplin.
Features of the project include a large showroom for the drills, floor sanders, lawn and garden power equipment, heavy excavation tools and aerial lift devices that make up the bulk of rentals. Wohnoutka says his company is acting as general contractor on the project, which has an estimated construction cost of about $380,000.[[In-content Ad]]