North America’s largest access equipment fleets

The access equipment rental market across North America is flourishing, as this year’s Aerials20 ranking shows. With a total increase of 14.38 percent, the 2023 Aerials20 highlights the rental sector’s growth, both through sustained organic means and consolidation. This follow’s 2022’s 9.61 percent aerial fleet increase.

united rentals, equipment rental United Rentals remains in the top spot with a reported 188,000 units, an increase of 17.09 percent over 2022’s 160,560 units. (Photo: United Rentals)

United Rentals remains in the top spot with a reported 188,000 units, an increase of 17.09 percent over 2022’s 160,560 units. While the increase for the world’s largest equipment rental company isn’t likely that shocking, it also comes following United’s acquisition of two previous top-10 rental companies: Ahern Rentals and ABLE Equipment.

As of June 30, United’s fleet totaled $20.6 billion with roughly 1,010,000 units. Average fleet age, the company says, is roughly 52 months.

Speaking during an investor’s call, United’s CEO and President Matthew Flannery said, “. As you have heard us say since the beginning of the year, 2023 is about raising the bar off of last year’s record results, and our second quarter performance across growth, profitability and returns provides evidence of that. I’m pleased with how the year is playing out, including the Ahern integration, which remains on-track.

“We front loaded our fleet, you remember, back and forth quarter last year. And that is on top of bringing in the Ahern fleet. We are very pleased of how it is working out.”

Sunbelt’s continued growth

Second on the list is Sunbelt Rentals, which saw an estimated 14 percent increase in its aerials fleet. This falls in line with the company’s expansion in North America, which it aims to see 1,234 locations across N.A. by April 2024. The company plans to add more than 298 locations through organic growth and acquisitions between April 2021 and April 2024 as part of its Sunbelt 3.0 plan.

It added 40 new sites in the first quarter of its financial year to July 31, of which 16 were through acquisitions.

sunbelt rentals, equipment rental Sunbelt Rentals saw an estimated 14 percent increase in its aerials fleet this year. (Photo: Two Rivers Marketing)

The company’s capital allocation priorities, of which began with $1.1 billion in CapEx, fueled its existing locations in greenfield additions with new rental fleet and delivery vehicles, the company said.

Sunbelt’s total U.S. rental revenue increase of 22 percent reflected higher levels of used equipment sales than last year, the company said.

“As we discussed in June, fleet landings are now more predictable and in line with our plans,” company CEO Brenda Horgan noted. :Good fleet landings during the quarter and the fourth quarter of last year have enabled us to reduce physical utilization from the heavy levels we have seen over the last couple of years. We’ve taken advantage of this factor and a strong secondhand market to accelerate disposals from our older fleet planned for later in the year.”

A 40 percent increase

However, this year’s biggest gain comes from Rental Equipment Investment Corp. (REIC,) which grew its aerials fleet by more than 41 percent to 2,124 units. The growth is attributed largely to REIC’s string of recent acquisitions, including the buyout of Aim High, which was the seventh company REIC acquired since becoming part of private equipment firm Kinderhook in January of 2022.

“Our Forecast is that the pricing on the used market is going to soften in 2024 and we will see more used telehandlers and booms hit the market for sale,” says Kevin Fitzgerald, REIC’s CEO. “We also predict that new pricing will come down as well, as manufacturers catch up with demand.”

While REIC announced the acquisition of Canada-based oil and gas rental specialist Midstream Equipment just a week prior, the past six months have seen the rental consolidator make a number of other purchases – including that of Wyoming-based Black Mountain Rentals and Illinois-headquartered dehumidification and heating specialist Industrial Drying Solutions.

Revealing more about the company’s planned trajectory, Paul Cifelli, managing director at Kinderhook, said, “We are excited for REIC to continue its acquisitive track record.”

‘Cooling off’

Looking at our top 10 aerial rental fleets, the Pacific Northwest’s Star Rentals – which has an estimated 4,200 aerials in its fleet – told ALH it has had a “busy summer,” but company President Bob Kendall warns that next year could see activity simmer a bit.

One of Star Rentals’ telehandlers. (Photo: Star Rentals)

“We have had a busy summer here in the PNW,” Kendall says. “We will finish Fiscal 2023 up about 8 percent YoY and have been fortunate to have received a fair amount of new equipment from key suppliers throughout the year.

“However, the vibe for 2024 appears to be a trend of cooling off just a bit and most likely business will be flat at best if not a very modest contraction. Although most key accounts have work on the books there certainly are examples of projects that have been delayed or postponed for a variety of reasons. I think at a minimum we will be seeking replacements for scheduled fleet disposals but otherwise demand for new equipment will likely moderate for the next 12 months.”

To see the full Aerials20 ranking, check out the September/October 2023 issue of Access, Lift & Handlers, which can be downloaded for free, here. If you would like to add your company to the annual ranking, please contact Editor Lindsey Anderson at [email protected] for more. 

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