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Tue February 18, 2014 - Southeast Edition
After spending years in the equipment rental business, Gary Bonds, owner of Advanced Rental Center in Canton, Ga., is confident his latest endeavor will be as successful as past ventures. His career began in 1975 as a sales rep of Wacker and his experience led him to start up his own rental company in 1986. At its peak, he sold the business in 1998 to a national rental company and retired. However, Bonds was not content to rest on his laurels and in 2005 came out of retirement and started over again opening Advanced Rental Center.
Bonds has come to understand that forming an alliance with a single distributor-single manufacturer is necessary for meeting his rolling stock machinery needs. This, in his opinion, is the most effective way to buy and maintain a rental fleet rather than juggling multiple manufacturer lines. Years of searching for the distributor/manufacturer that could provide the best and meet his expectations lead him to work with Yancey Bros. Co. and Caterpillar corporate. After nearly a year, Bonds sees the alliance as a complete success.
Bonds said the rationale behind the business decision was pretty easy and was based on the “power of Yancey in the Georgia market.”
“Advanced Rental Center has always had the philosophy that we do things our way, Bonds said. “We’re not saying it’s always the right or the wrong way, but it’s our way and that means it’s all about taking care of our customer and giving them a product that we can back and something that they can have confidence in to be a very good machine. That’s why we went with Cat.”
Cat machines have been delivered on a regular basis to Advanced Rental since early 2013.
“The package started out with two Cat 252 skid steer loaders, three Cat 259 track machines, two Cat 289 track loaders, one Cat 302.5 mini excavator and two Cat 303.5 mini excavators. We traded in a fleet of machines pretty much on a one for one basis. Shortly thereafter, I ordered another Cat 303.5 to add to the fleet and then just recently, two more 259’s, two more 303.5’s and one more 305. We now have 16 Cat machines in which we maintain ourselves and the machines are all purchased with an extended warranty,” said Bonds.
The alliance agreement came about through Advanced Rental’s continuous conversations with the local Yancey Bros. Co. sales representative and with John McLean, management representative and Tanner Dahlke, district representative of Caterpillar corporate.
“This falls in line with the way we always try to handle business at Advanced Rental —having a relationship, not only with the local distributor [of the machines we rent] but with the factory itself. It gives us more contacts to keep us educated on the machines and what’s available,” said Bonds.
“Caterpillar actually facilitates the process of rental alliances through the dealers and encourages us to enter into a partnership with a limited number of rental companies such as Advanced Rental,” said McLean. “This is done so we can spread our equipment out over a larger area and create a larger footprint. Caterpillar’s effort in this is to facilitate and help the process along.”
“What was interesting to me is the fact that Caterpillar corporate has a vetting program to actually approve us to enter into this,” said Bonds. “This wasn’t just a Yancey local agreement; this was an actual Cat corporate decision in which we had to be approved to enter into the alliance.”
According to McLean, the criteria for entering into a rental agreement for both Yancey and Cat is to pick customers based on strategic location of their operation compared to their own. The potential for a real partnership stems from effort between the two parties to share leads and information.
“We know it can’t quite be that way, but we try to make it almost like a branch operation,” said McLean. “We also have other rental alliances and I can count the number of those alliances on one hand. They are all strategically located and all have truly been vetted by Caterpillar. We have to submit the customer as a prospect and present their background information to Cat, which begins the interview process. It’s well designed — well thought out.
“The rental alliance is intended to be a partnership between Yancey and Advanced Rental Center with the idea and the goal being that we share leads and needs between each other and that we have a partnership going forward to capture the rental market,” said McLean.
Bonds has tried working with manufacturers on potential long-term alliance agreements, but Cat is the only manufacturer that worked for him.
“Cat is rather unique in this alliance. We’ve talked with manufacturers in the past and have tried to enter into what we considered was an alliance and no one seemed to know what we were thinking or talking about, with regards to the alliance. It’s amazing when we found out that Caterpillar actually had an alliance program in place. They [Cat] were forward thinking enough to develop this and understand that the rental yards are a marketing arm for the manufacturer, be it Caterpillar corporate or Yancey CAT as a distributor. By putting the machines out in to the rental fleets and maintaining the machines and putting them out in front of the marketplace, we’re actually a sales arm for the factory and the distributors. They’re smart enough to realize that and we applaud them for having the alliance program and promoting it.
Bonds is promoting Cat products — the full line. He is confident offering the Cat lineup to his customers because of the reputation Cat has in the industry, and the benefits it will pass on to Advanced Rental Center and its customers.
“Name recognition is very big in this industry,” said Bonds.
The alliance is all about helping each other and working together between Cat Rents and Advanced Rental Center. Advanced can “borrow” from Yancey’s inventory for anything that they can handle delivery on. The whole purpose for the alliance, from Advanced Rental Center’s standpoint, is to have a larger inventory.
For deliveries of larger machines Bonds will depend on Yancey. If the machine is something Advanced Renal Center can physically handle, the company will deliver it with their tandem axle rollbacks. And if something is not available in house, Advanced Rental Center can offer the machine through Cat Rents.
Bonds fully intends to utilize and purchase Cat attachments to expand the capacity of his rental machines.
“When it comes to attachments, we’ll try to work with Yancey in as many ways as possible,” said Bonds. “Staying with the factory brand aids us in the actual fitment of the attachment, which is an advantage. They match and they’re not ’sloppy’ on the machine, which makes for a better total product to rent.”
Bonds said the life cycle of the rental fleet has completely changed.
“We used to have a three year turn rate on our bigger equipment. That all changed as the whole world changed back in 2007. We try to keep our machines for three years and roughly 1,500 hours of time on the machine. But since ’07’, things changed and we might have a machine for two years and won’t have but 500 hours on it. The market has changed that much. Right now, we’re seeing a change again. With the Caterpillar machines in particular, I’ve got some of the mini excavators with 500 hours on them [less than one year old machines]. So, I think the market is turning, there’s more work out there and they’re putting more hours on them and working harder. Once again we would expect to keep the machines for three years and hopefully 1500 hours. To which point we would need to trade them in or sell them through our sales force here. We expect a higher than normal return at trade-in time or sales time being a Caterpillar product.”
Bonds said his company has always been customer oriented.
“If our customers are working a mile away or 60 miles away, we service them in the same fashion. We have delivery vehicles and drivers who stay busy all over the city of Atlanta. Right now I have equipment scattered from the Atlanta airport to Dalton, to Gwinnett County, so territory wise, it’s the Atlanta metro area and wherever the customer is.
“The relationship between Advanced Rental Center and Yancey and Caterpillar corporate has been all that we could ask for,” said Bonds. “They’ve been there when we needed them. Everything’s running smoothly. I can’t say I’ve had any big tests for them yet, but I’m sure they’ll be there to support us when we need them.”
Advanced Rental Center is located at 141 Edwards Street in Canton, Ga. For more information call 770/479-9395 or visit www.rentalarc.com.