Rental Center—Arvada Rent-Alls

Handling curveballs: Arvada Rent-Alls credits finding stolen equipment with an effective telematics system.

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In hindsight, 2023 didn’t start out very well for Andrew Heesacker, president and CEO of Arvada Rent-Alls, an independent equipment rental center in the Denver metropolitan area.

On January 1, the Genie 5519 telehandler that Heesacker had rented to a contractor working on a new restaurant just off the interstate disappeared.

“The contractor was on holiday break at the time and didn’t report the unit missing until January 11,” recalls Heesacker. That meant the trail was rather cold when the search for the telehandler began.

However, Heesacker had installed DPL telematic units on more than 300 of his larger pieces of equipment. According to the telematics system, the unit was moved to another location in South Denver for four days, and then was transported to Morgan Hills, California, a suburb south of San Francisco.

“We called the Morgan Hills police, and they referred us to the Santa Clara County sheriff, who was very helpful in helping us get the telehandler. They went above and beyond the call of duty and were very quick in helping us out,” he says.

The sheriff obtained a search warrant for where the unit was located, but the unit was moved across the street; however, they were able to recover the unit. “The OEM telematics unit was pulled out of the telehandler, but the DPL unit, which was hidden much more inconspicuously, continued to log its location,” he says.

Heesacker contacted Robert Pedersen Sr. and Rob Pedersen Jr. at A Tool Shed, a rental center based in Santa Cruz, California, for assistance. “Robert and I serve on the ARA National Board and Rob and I are in a Peer Executive Group together. The telehandler was located about 10 miles from them and they sent over David Peoples, their Morgan Hill branch manager, to recover it. We then worked with one of our commercial carriers to haul it back to Arvada.”

The telehandler was less than six months old when it was stolen, Heesacker says. “Typically, an asset such as this could have a 12-month lead time at an estimated $70,000 cost. We’re pleased that it turned out this way; we didn’t even have to get the insurance company involved. The renter was glad to get the unit back and even gladly paid the month’s rental fee while it was missing. They were very grateful when the forklift came back as they were aware that it was going to be their responsibility to pay for the unit if it did not come back.”

Although the vandals tore out the OEM telematics system, Heesacker says the asset’s repairs were minor. “There were some small repairs needed but it was pretty minimal.” Since this theft, geofences have been set up on other pieces of equipment to alert staff if equipment leaves the state of Colorado.

60 years strong

Arvada Rent-Alls, which is now owned at operated by Heesacker, has been in operation for 60 years. “The business opened in 1963 and its customer base was 90 percent homeowner and 10 percent contractors. Even to this day, there are no big box stores very close to us. We are also a Stihl dealer, which fits with our present customer type that is now 65 percent contractor and 35 percent homeowner,” he says.

His experience has focused on working with contractors of all types, so the business has grown along those lines. “We still have homeowner rentals, but we have been growing our business on the contractor side,” he says.

Heesacker says Arvada Rent-Alls has worked toward building a diverse and robust customer base, whcih was reinforced during the Great Recession. “We strive for a robust customer base. It was difficult to get through 2008 to 2011. I was in inside and outside sales during that time. I think that having a specialty type of contractor as our customer base was never a part of my vision. We have a little bit of every type of customer; small contractors and one-person shows to some of the largest contractors in the in the world. We take pride in being able to help them all.”

Heesacker has been involved with equipment rental for 16 years. Even though he grew up around rental, he never worked directly at the Arvada Rent-Alls store as a youth. “I was non-traditional in the sense that I didn’t grow up sweeping the floors at the rental store. My dad always had me do other jobs such as lawn care. I worked for a garden center through high school and I went to college while working at a gas station, feed store and other jobs like that,” he says. 

After college, he spent the first six years of his career working at Neff Rental in heavy machinery rentals, which was bought by United Rentals in 2017. His father, Luke, started working at Arvada Rent-Alls in 1971 and purchased the business with two partners in 1986. In 2015, Luke bought out those partners and Andrew purchased the business from his father in 2020.

Today, Heesacker says the operation has about 300 pieces of mid- to large-size equipment and thousands of small rental items. While the larger pieces of equipment are equipped with DPL telematics units, all inventory is listed in its Alert Management System, which interfaces well with the DPL Telematics data, Heesacker says.

Arvada Rent-Alls also has another branch in Littleton, Colorado that it acquired in 2019. “Unlike the Arvada location, that branch has several big-box stores in the area, so that store isn’t as popular with homeowners,” Heesacker says.

Growing in 2023

In 2023, Heesacker was able to add $2 million in equipment to the rental fleet, no small feat in the supply chain environment of 2021 and 2022. Presently, the rental fleet value sits at approximately $8 million.

“Last year was the most difficult in terms of gaining access to equipment. In 2022, we ordered everything for delivery in 2023. Instead of going to the ARA show in February and making our orders and start receiving purchases by the time we were getting home, we knew it would be six to 18 months for some equipment, which averaged to about a year lead time. So we ordered everything last year and set it all up for delivery this year. However, I am seeing things free up recently, so we’re getting units that were scheduled for June delivery coming in March,” he says.

With a current work crew of 30 employees, Heesacker says that its growth strategy has been working. “Since 2020, we’ve been averaging 25 percent growth, and we hit 32 percent growth last year, reaching $7.4 million in revenue.”

Looking forward, Heesacker is paying close attention to the changing needs and wants of his diverse customer base. “I think it’s important to be very aware of technology when it comes to the customer experience, whether it’s a homeowner or a contractor. They now want websites that allow then to order equipment online. They want telematic-equipped equipment and want to know how it can benefit them. We’re also seeing increased interest in battery-powered equipment of all sizes. We currently have an aerator and a power rake that are the largest battery-powered items we have, but I foresee that is something we will be seeing more of in the next three to five years,” he concludes.

Originally seen in Pro Contractor Rentals