To rent or buy: Contractors chime in
When buying is best, and when renting fills the bill
The best way to measure contractors’ thoughts on whether renting or buying is best for business is simply to ask. Masonry sampled its contractor members on the social business networking site LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) to assess their thoughts on when buying is best, and when renting fills the bill.
Masonry asked: “Which is best for you right now: renting or buying? From scaffolding to heavier equipment and jobsite tools, what are your thoughts on renting versus buying, and why?”
Paul Cantarella Jr., owner Cantarella & Son Mason Contractor, Pittsfield, Mass.:
We rent Hydro Mobiles, because we’d worry too much about the maintenance and upkeep to make sure they are maintained properly and are safe. The dealer has factory trained mechanics. Also we rent large items, or we’d see them setting at the shop for months at a time when not being used. We purchase everything else: jobsite tools, forklifts and conventional scaffold. Its much easier to maintain these items, and they are used more frequently. It's a fine line of trying to have enough equipment to not have to rent, but also not to have it sitting all year at your shop.
Ralph Woods, owner at Ralph Woods Masonry, Indianapolis:
We try to buy everything except for the equipment we won't use often. We bought our dump truck, ditch witch, and all of our necessary tools, and didn't pay for them on credit because I always want to know where I stand financially. I am just a small company, so it is easier for me to do that than larger companies that need a lot of heavier equipment and Hydro Mobiles.
Jennifer Jones, office assistant at Stratton Masonry, Johnson City, Tenn.:
When our company was strictly building single-family homes, we purchased our equipment. We started to expand our company, and then began renting equipment for large commercial jobs and multi-family homes. It’s always going to depend on the job, cost estimates and time management.
Ed Stevens, president at Stevens Masonry Construction Inc., Sharon, Pa.:
We have purchased all equipment and keep renting to a minimum. However, for these days, I think the No. 1 criteria would be cash flow and credit. I would advise with money and credit tight that you rent all you can and avoid purchases. Even though bids are extremely tight, try to recoup rental costs in your bids. Hopefully someday, when economy picks up, our bids can improve and then we can purchase equipment.
Hank Johnson, owner of HJ`s Stone Artistry Restorations, New York City:
I always believed that the more you own, the better contractor you become. Although, that statement can go either way: Less is more. As the tradesmen that I am, scaffolding is a must have, so I own several sets. Regarding the jobsite tools that I use day by day, I own all my stone cutting and pitching tools, carbides, etc. I am not going to buy an expensive tool that I might use once or twice a year. I would rather rent those items.
Back in the ‘80s, I leased excavators to do the jobs I was engaged in, like large boulder walls, water falls, etc. Today, I still would rather rent these types of machines, or anything complex. When you rent an item and something is amiss – triggers are jamming, brushes are worn, hydraulic hoses are spilling fluid all over your work – you simply make a call, and you are covered. Just get another tool. If you own some of these items, and these types of headaches occur, then you own the headache. That headache can become a huge embarrassment for you and your company, and time and money is lost.
Add your thoughts on the discussion in the Networking Roundtables.
Originally published in Masonry magazine.
About the Author
Jennifer Morrell was the editor of Masonry magazine. She has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry as a writer and editor, covering such topics as real estate and construction, insurance, health care, relationships and sports. A graduate of The University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in magazines and is an award-winning newspaper columnist.