Galen Wickstrom - National Accounts Manager
Feb 25, 2016, 03:00 AM
From Distributor to Rental, How Genie Embraced the Change in Aerial Equipment Distribution
Written by Galen Wickstrom, National Accounts Manager
I was asked awhile back about how I think Genie shaped the industry in the last 50 years. It’s a great question! Certainly, we could brag about our advancements in product innovations — when I entered the business, ladders and scaffolding were the primary ways people got up to aerial worksites and did work. Genie, along with its competitors, has been instrumental in changing the landscape of how people get up in the air and do their jobs. And of course, we’ve influenced productivity and safety on aerial worksites too. The last 50 years have been a continual march of better performance and greater capabilities.
In addition to manufacturing aerial work platforms, we have also made it easier for our customers to get the equipment they need. Early on, we recognized an opportunity to shift how we go-to-market with our products, from a traditional distribution channel (i.e. authorized dealers selling our equipment to the end users) to equipment rental. We found that many of end users did not want to own aerial equipment because they did not utilize it enough to realize a positive return on investment (ROI). With rental, end users are freed up financially because they don't have the big cash outlay initially, and they're able to expense renting aerial equipment, versus owning, differently on their balance sheets. Instead of being a capital acquisition, it becomes an expense to the business with different write-off implications. And, it doesn't become an asset on the company's books that depreciates over time.
Rental makes so much business sense for our end users, and it opened up a new category of customers to us — rental stores. For Genie, embracing that change in distribution not only changed the way we did business, over time it has changed how the entire aerial industry goes to market. For example, when you look at the aerial industry worldwide, the underdeveloped markets are regions where rental distribution isn’t strong. So, the markets tend to be quite small as a result of that. But we see as equipment rental gains in those areas, those markets open up and become much bigger. Ultimately, rental gets aerials into the hands of more people, which gets people off ladders and scaffolding and up in the air more safely and productively.
So, I would say that our influence in the industry over the last 50 years has had a two-pronged effect: The development of the aerial equipment to get people up in the air, and then the development of the rental distribution channel, which puts the product in more people's hands.