Having the right mix of concrete equipment is like walking a tightrope - if you don't have the pieces your customers need, you lose business; if you have pieces your customers don't rent, you lose money. Although it's a delicate balancing act, it is possible to create the right mix of concrete equipment to satisfy your customer base.
As with any type of equipment, you'll need to take the pulse of your rental business and understand a few key points - like your customers and your market - in order to get the mix of equipment right.
Know your customer: If your typical customer tends to be the weekend warrior or small contractor, a 12-cubic-foot concrete mixer will not be highly utilized. Who your customers are will tell you a lot about the type of jobs they'll be tackling and what type of equipment they'll need to get it done.
Know your market: Try to keep tabs on construction projects in your area. Are most jobs small housing projects or are they high-rise, institutional buildings" This will not only help you stock the right type of equipment, but also the right size. DIYers will need smaller mixers, for example, than a contractor pouring a large slab.
Understanding your customers' needs and your market is the first step. Knowing the different types of concrete working equipment is the next.
Becoming a "concrete equipment supplier" is much more than having a few trowels and mixers. For example, compressors run the breakers that break out the old concrete, mixers make new concrete, saws cut it, power buggies or pumps place the concrete, and screeds, floats and trowels finish it.
Because each rental business is different, there cannot be one all-inclusive list that is right for everyone. There are as many right combinations of equipment as there are rental businesses. There are a few basic pieces of concrete equipment that every rental business should stock, however.
- Electric breakers remove old material, including sidewalks, stones, brickwork, asphalt, etc.
- Mixers mix concrete, mortar, grout, plaster and more. A concrete mixer will mix mortar or plaster, but a mortar mixer will not mix concrete. Several mortar mixers, including 6-, 8-, 9- and 12-cubic-foot sizes, and several concrete mixers, 6- and 9-cubic-foot for contractors and a 2-cubic-foot for homeowners, is suggested.
- Buggies move concrete and mortar and aid in filling forms. They can also be used to move debris and dirt.
- Vibrators consolidate concrete (remove air bubbles) to make the concrete stronger. A unit with two size heads and shafts can get you started. "A rental business can begin with a general purpose vibrator that incorporates the most popular size motor shaft and head," says Fred Oswald, president of Oztec Industries. Oztec units come equipped with a Quick Change system to allow the shaft and head to couple to the motor in seconds without any tools. "This allows rental stores to mix and match shafts and heads on the motors to meet their customers' needs," says Oswald. "The rental company can then add to its vibrator rental line according to what their customer's needs are."
- Screeds. Wet screeds flatten and consolidate concrete and can be used in residential, light commercial, industrial and highway applications. "Most homeowners will not want to buy and will readily rent a wet screed with at least two size boards and hand tools," says Jim Lewis, national product specialist, Wacker Neuson. Truss screeds flatten and consolidate concrete in larger areas. These units are used on larger pours and can be used on surfaces up to 8 inches thick where critical flatness is necessary.
- Power trowels are used for both floating and finishing large slabs. Compared to ordinary hand tools, power trowels significantly increase production and reduce costs by their ability to cover more square footage of the slab per day. Walk-behind trowels are available in 24-, 30-, 36-and 48-inch blade diameters. To get started, a 24- and 36-inch unit is advised. "Ordinarily, hand tools might finish 300 to 600 square feet per day whereas a 36-inch walk-behind trowel can finish 700 to 1,500 square feet per day depending on job circumstances and weather," says Lewis. "Ride-on trowels are typically available with two rotors in 36- or 48-inch models and can dramatically increase production. Depending on the job site conditions and operator proficiency, one ride-on model can replace three to four walk-behind units."
- Concrete saws cut expansion joints in flat work and can also be used for demolition of existing concrete slabs. They're designed to cut concrete, brick, stone, asphalt, steel and more.
- Basic concrete hand tools and bull floats.