In celebration of International Women’s Day, we interviewed two Genie customers who are female leaders in the equipment rental industry — Tran Kim Dzung, the owner, founder and President of Tuyet Nga Co. Ltd. in Vietnam, and Sarah Rothenbuhler,
Owner and CEO of Birch Equipment Rental and Sales in the U.S. — who talked about how they got their start in the equipment rental business, their experiences building and running thriving companies, and shared some advice for women considering
entering this industry, or other industries where females are under-represented.
Before founding TNC in 1995, Mdme Dzung worked for the Vietnamese embassy in Russia for seven years, and then taught English and Russian in her hometown, Hanoi, Vietnam. In 1998, she began searching for U.S. companies to do business with because she wanted
to send her daughter to the U.S. to study. Aerials were familiar to TNC, which was already working in the industrial equipment market, and Mdme Dzung knew that replacing traditional scaffolding with MEWPs would increase productivity and enhance safety
for laborers in Vietnam.
TNC, who became a Genie dealer in 2000, pioneered the aerials industry in Vietnam, bringing the first MEWPs into the market. The company broke new ground again in 2007, launching the first access rental business in the country. Now, TNC has three main
rental depots in Hanoi, Danang and Hochiminh City, additional service depots in Vung Tau and Haiphong, and employs 150 employees.
“The biggest hurdle (starting out) was introducing aerial equipment to a market that had no knowledge or expertise with aerials, or knowledge of the safety and economic benefits of aerials. Our team had to invest a lot of time, resources and hard
work to educate and familiarize the customer,” said Mdme Dzung. “It has been a long but successful journey.”
Rothenbuhler grew up in the construction industry in Washington state and Alaska and worked in construction and the NFL before taking over and beginning to rebuild Birch Equipment when it was near collapse in the mid-1990s.
“In the mid-90s, Birch was about 8% of the size it is today, but our problems were about 110%. The equipment was run down, Birch owned two locations, and had been losing money for a few years. The gear was worn out. Birch lacked systems, customers,
and pride in our work and each other. It took a lot of years of rebuilding, but we are the opposite of that today.”
Birch now has eight locations in Washington state — with multiple locations in Snohomish County, Skagit County, Whatcom County and also Sitka, Alaska. Birch is regularly recognized as a top 100 rental company in the United States, regularly receives
“Washington State Best Place to Work” awards, and has been recognized for community giving and corporate citizenship, an important part of Birch’s fabric. But growing Birch into the thriving business it is now took Rothenbuhler a
lot of hard work and perseverance.
In addition to hard work, both Rothenbuhler and Mdme Dzung credit their companies’ growth and success to quality equipment, a commitment to dependability and excellent customer service, and a constant eye on how to innovate to better serve the industry
and their customers.
Rothenbuhler added that diversification of their customer base is key for Birch Equipment, as is teamwork and innovation.
“Our key is how much we want to keep growing, not necessarily in size, but in innovation,” Rothenbuhler said. “We’re always working to solve industry frustrations for our customers as well as increasing our dependability by way
of depth charts, cross training, eliminating wasted motion and avoiding getting ‘stuck’ in old ways of doing things.”
Mdme Dzung agreed that having the right team in place, supporting employees, and teamwork are vital.
“I have to say thanks to my family, friends, all my team at TNC, and the Genie team who always understand and support me,” she said. “We work very hard and never give up. We are never satisfied with what we have done, and we always want
to do better, improving the quality of our fleet and service to our customers, and we always do as we commit.”
She adds that TNC also embraces and lives Genie’s commitment to Zero Harm, and to the saying, “think safe, work safe, home safe.”
Rothenbuhler has owned and been growing Birch Equipment for more than 25 years and has solid plans for the future. Mdme Dzung also is constantly looking ahead and planning for the future, and has ideas about how TNC can continue to flourish while leading
the industry into the future in her market.
An important part of that future is the next generation of women and men entering the job market. With this in mind, and in honor of International Women’s Day, we asked Mdme Dzung and Rothenbuhler to offer advice to women who might be looking at
a career in the equipment industry or another profession where males make up the majority of the workforce.
“I always think males and females have equal rights in business,” Mdme Dzung said. “I always encourage other women to join this field, because women thrive and flourish wonderfully in this industry. Furthermore, there are many successful
businesswomen in all types of industries in Vietnam!”
“Regardless of gender, the same advice applies. Keep realigning your goals with the skills you gain and the doors you push open. We’re all going to make mistakes: Own them, learn from them, keep growing,” Rothenbuhler said. “There
are more good people than bad. Make sure you are not assuming or type casting. Be one of the good people and spend your time and energy with the good people, whether it’s work or play.”