When it comes to construction projects, time is money. The owners of equipment rental company EquipmentShare say they know that well.
“Just as people live paycheck to paycheck, contractors live project to project, and one issue can have a domino effect,” says company spokesperson Amy Susan.
EquipmentShare founders Jabbok and William Schlacks witnessed those dominoes falling. The brothers from Fulton were working as contractors when they identified major inefficiencies and wasted time in the construction process.
“They wanted to holistically solve these contractor problems, and to do that, they needed to build connectivity for construction,” Susan says.
In 2014, the pair entered Startup Weekend, a multiday entrepreneurial competition, with an idea for software that tracked every piece of data found on a construction site. They created one platform to integrate equipment usage, rental contracts, fuel levels and more. They called it EquipmentShare and won the competition. Several successful rounds of funding followed shortly, and the brothers a year later incorporated EquipmentShare in Columbia. Now, the company has 83 locations coast to coast.
EquipmentShare’s showpiece is its tracking platform, company officials say. With hardware installed on construction equipment, contractors and project managers can digitally keep tabs on all data related to their projects: when a piece of machinery was last used, who is qualified to operate each piece of equipment, how fast delivery drivers are driving, fuel levels of vehicles, geolocations of equipment on job sites, and even team clock-in times.
“That’s the type of visibility that really excites me,” says Rusty Whitlock, general manager of EquipmentShare’s Springfield operation.
It’s all about accelerating productivity in the field, Susan says.
“We want to help contractors replace some of those manual and analog processes,” she adds.
The concept of tracking and analyzing equipment data isn’t unique – large brands like John Deere and Caterpillar have similar systems in their own equipment. But Whitlock notes many contractors have mixed fleets of various brands of owned and rented equipment. EquipmentShare is designed as manufacturer agnostic, bringing all tracking into one platform.
“It doesn’t matter the make or model; if it’s moving on the job site, then we can digitize it, track it, and help you monitor and manage it,” Susan says.
She notes that a key factor to EquipmentShare’s adoption was preloading a fleet of rental equipment with the tracking hardware and allowing contractors to experience the technology before installing it within their own fleet.
“We realized to put the technology in the hands of contractors, we needed a vehicle to do so, literally,” Susan says. “It’s our Trojan horse.”
Built to grow
Now in its sixth year, EquipmentShare officials say the company is growing rapidly.
The 2,000-employee company hires between 80 and 110 employees every month across operations in 25 states. Susan says within the next 12 months, EquipmentShare is projecting over $1 billion in revenue; officials decline to disclose current annual revenue.
Since the Springfield office opened with five employees in October 2019, the operation has grown to 13 employees and tripled its delivery truck fleet. Whitlock says the activity is connected to an increase in local construction.
“In my 20 years in the business, I don’t believe I have ever seen construction as hot as it is in the Springfield market right now,” he says.
According to Census data, construction spending January-February nationally exceeded $213 billion, 5% above 2020 spending in the same period.
About three-quarters of EquipmentShare’s clients are commercial construction companies. Locally, Nabholz Construction Inc. has used EquipmentShare on almost every job site since the Springfield office opened.
“You ask them for equipment, and they get it here,” says Marty Turner, superintendent at Nabholz. “They make it happen.”
Nabholz, a national construction company based in northwest Arkansas, handles commercial construction for several Johnny Morris’ entities, including Bass Pro Shops and Top of the Rock, in addition to projects with CoxHealth and Mercy.
Turner says he likes the immediacy of EquipmentShare’s customer service, which has gotten needed equipment to sites in a matter of hours instead of days. Whitlock says the company’s ability to respond is due to the vast network of EquipmentShare locations.
“One of our daily tasks is sourcing equipment that’s not being utilized at other locations and shipping it into our market or shipping it from our location to other markets to help out on large jobs,” Whitlock says.
The network’s interconnectedness is due in part to a shared culture, which officials says is full of collaborative problem-solvers.
“You know the phrase ‘think outside the box’?” Whitlock adds. “Well, we live outside the box.”
In 2020, EquipmentShare set a goal of increasing its veteran workforce to 15% from 10% by 2022. The company also mobilizes volunteer teams for disaster response in addition to establishing partnerships with local chapters of Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
“We’re not only out there every day trying to help contractors build better, but we’re also trying to build up and better our communities,” Susan says.
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