Ready for the Big time

When Art's Rental Equipment & Supply began renting tools and light equipment to homeowners 45 years ago, an 18-inch chipper would not have fit very well into the fleet mix. Scarcely rented even by landscape contractors, those bad boys simply didn't make sense. Now they do.

"We always carried smaller brush chippers, but it was mostly for homeowners," says David Arlinghaus, whose father founded the company in 1967 with one general tool location in Amelia, OH. "Now we're getting landscapers and municipalities, even construction contractors, renting bigger chippers."

Fleet snapshot

On the small end, Art's Rental currently has 15 Vermeer 600XL 6-inch chippers in fleet, which are typically rented to homeowners with land-clearing projects. The company also carries 18 1000XLs which can handle material with up to 10-inch diameter. "We rent these more to municipalities, but they're also good candidates for homeowners with lots of material to process," says Arlinghaus.

At the opposite end of the scale, Art's Rental owns 12 Vermeer 1800XLs for limbs up to 18 inches. "These go exclusively to municipalities, contractors and landscapers," he says. "We really got into the 18-inch size about eight to 10 years ago because our customers were asking for larger machines."

Mechanics make it work

For many independent rental houses, getting into a significantly larger line of equipment isn't feasible, particularly if they don't have the resources to make it fly. "You really need knowledgeable mechanics to service and repair these machines," Arlinghaus says. "Smaller rental companies often don't have the personnel. Due to the kind of work these machines do, there's lots of maintenance involved."

He adds, "If a guy had to take his machine to the dealer to be serviced every time, this wouldn't make a good rental item. You need to be able to fix it yourself."

Art's Rental has around 25 mechanics on staff throughout its 13 locations that span Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. "Each of our mechanics have between 10 and 15 years of experience," Arlinghaus says. "Some have over 30 years."

Big chippers pay off

The Vermeer 1800XLs rent for a day to several weeks, depending on the circumstances. "When we had a big ice storm and hurricane a few years back, we had every machine out and it went on for three months," Arlinghaus recalls. "But we've had very high utilization overall since we added these machines."

The large chippers have held their value, he adds. "It depends on the demand throughout the machine's life, but typically we get five to eight years out of machine before we sell it," he explains. "That's when you see the profit. They've gotten good resale."

Support from supplier

One reason Arlinghaus says Art's Rental has been able to make a go of the larger chippers is the support they've received from the manufacturer. "Vermeer has a high-quality product and we have a great working relationship with the company and the dealer," he says. "They have excellent aftersale support."