Aerial Outlook 2013: How the North American Market Compares with the World

Aerial lifts make up enough of the North American rental market that what happens in the segment has a large impact on the entire rental industry. Rental asked the leaders of Skyjack, Terex AWP, JLG, and Snorkel where the aerial market's at and where it's headed.

Q: How does the North American aerial market compare to the global market?

Matt Fearon, president of Terex AWP: The North American rental market started to refresh fleets in late 2010 and continued through 2012. We are now beginning to see signs of fleet growth in North America. Overall, the economy is improving, rental companies are growing stronger, interest rates are low, housing is coming back and fleet ages are still high. We expect these positive trends to continue for the next few years.

Globally, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia (EMEAR) is starting to make a comeback in spots like in Northern Europe, whereas southern countries like Spain and Greece are still struggling. We are beginning to see large rental companies begin to refresh their fleets despite the economic uncertainty. China is coming along slowly; Brazil will be gaining momentum due to the World Cup and the Olympics and India is starting to develop as well.

Frank Nerenhausen, president of JLG: Europe is traditionally a solid market for us, but we're still down 60 percent there. There are some signs of life in certain markets: in the north, customers are coming in for some solid replacement business; while the south is in pretty tough shape. Until there's a more cohesive and collective response to the financial crisis in Europe, a boom isn't imminent. But we're predicting some modest growth as customers come in for some replacement business. The Middle East has its spurts, it's been a decent business for us. The Pac Rim is an exciting market and we're invested for the long term. A lot depends on adoption rate and recognition of safety rules and regulations, and we're working hard to create that awareness and promotion of safety. We're excited about the Americas -- not just North America, but South America and to a certain extent, Central America. Those markets are still growing and we see some solid runway on that growth going forward.

Dave Smith, president of Snorkel: North America is stronger on a steeper trajectory than the rest of the world. Australia, on the other hand, is really struggling. Capital for equipment there is very low, people are not replacing their fleet. Asia is still very strong, there's still a lot of construction growth. There are a lot of people in Asia that are still very new to aerial and access and they're moving toward that from a safety and efficiency standpoint. It's not necessarily construction growth or growth of fleet that's driving it, they're getting into the fleet for the first time. Europe is starting to loosen up and getting a little bit stronger, with still some hesitancy among some countries in the European Union. The Middle East is staying very strong and starting to see some replacement activity. South America is very strong, but its problem is just getting the infrastructure in place to get the equipment in there. One of their biggest issues is getting competitive credit. Many countries are really still emerging.

Brad Boehler, president of Skyjack: North America currently stands out. In Europe, the problems with the Eurozone mean the prospects are not as high as elsewhere in the world, though fundamentally the robustness of the rental sector is preserved. Although the Eurozone problems will not go away in 2013, the underlying strength of the rental sector should be maintained as companies look for ways to renew equipment and maintain their own competitiveness. Certainly the same economic influences can be seen as a depressing influence on new equipment purchases by end users and contractors, but that adds a driver to the rental sector as the rental option becomes comparatively beneficial for these customers.

This same rental option rationale exists in North America and is driving more rental activity as opposed to new purchases by these users.

Although relatively new markets for Skyjack, Australia and Brazil are showing positive results. We are also looking forward to becoming more active in other markets globally.


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