Since opening Altra Rentals in the late 90s, Jim Pedulla’s business has grown steadily.
Altra Rental & Supply, on Route 104 in Ontario, N.Y., is a one-stop shop for contractors looking to either rent or buy.
According to Jim Pedulla, he started Altra 12 years ago because he was getting so many requests from his friends to borrow stuff. Pedulla still shares his opinion about what customers are planning to rent or buy.
“In my days as a contractor, I could never find a rental store that understood what we needed; in general you were lucky if they knew enough about the equipment they were renting out,” Pedulla said.
His goal now is to give every contractor who walks in exactly what they need.
“It may not exactly be what they came in for, but it is what’s going to save them money. Or time. Or both,” he said.
What looks from the outside to be a rather small building is seemingly much larger on the inside, with row after row of consumables, tools and supplies neatly and very tightly packed from floor to ceiling, and in the yard, a good collection of compact equipment that includes late model Cat skid steers, wheel loaders and mini excavators.
As crowded as the store may look, there’s wisdom behind the arrangement.
“When you walk down the aisles, you’re bound to remember at least two or three other things that you needed or may soon be needing,” Pedulla explained. “Our customers are perennially short on time, and they appreciate this memory-jogging setup.”
Pedulla also sees renting as another huge time and money saver.
“From a business point of view, a short-term need doesn’t justify a purchase, and a rental becomes the ideal solution,” he said. “If a customer wants something that we don’t have, all I need to do is place a call to my rep at Milton CAT, and I know that I will get the piece.”
When asked about his business strategy, Pedulla named what he considers the three basic components – focus, signature service and convenience.
By “focus” Pedulla means finding out who are Altra’s core customers, and then supplying what those customers are looking for, instead of trying to be all things to all people.
“Figuring out the proper mix was a crucial step – and one that took us some time,” he said, explaining that his customers are a mix of masons, framers, roofers and excavators.
“My staff and I have years of experience as contractors ourselves, and our customers can tell right away that we know what we’re talking about; we understand what contractors need and we carry all those items.”
Joining the Milton CAT Rental Alliance was another way to meet the mandate, supply what your customers need.
“They like seeing the Cat brand, of course, it has a lot of prestige, for one, but it’s prestige based on real facts, quality, new equipment, reliability,” said Pedulla, who added that he’s impressed with the people and the support he finds at his dealer, Milton CAT.
That first advantage, “focus,” ties in with Altra’s second principle, providing signature service. To explain the meaning of that statement, Pedulla uses an example – “Often a contractor would come looking for a certain piece of equipment, let’s say a backhoe, and ends up renting a mini excavator instead; that’s because we believe it is our responsibility to have input on the decision-making process, to put our experience to work for our customers.”
Pedulla said that his Milton CAT representative, Len LeClair, frequently does the same thing to him, proposing a different machine or work tool than the one Altra had ordered, using his own experience to his own customer’s benefit.
“Convenience” is the third component. Altra Rental & Supply is located on a well-traveled road, open early and carries full lines of all the items contractors are likely to need, from flashlights to power tools, oil to belts, augers to buckets.
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