Numerous Factors Influence Decision To Own Or Rent Track Trenchers

What’s right for your business and application?
July 2011, Vol. 66 No. 7

“We pride ourselves on being a quality contractor and having good equipment,” said Robert Myers, CEO of CSW Contractors, whose company has rented Vermeer T655 Commander 3 machines to build and install drainage systems and utilities in solid rock. “We own the majority of our equipment, but don’t have the utilization to justify owning a trencher. At that point, our choices are to purchase an older trencher, which we really don’t want to do because it doesn’t fit our ‘culture,’ or we can rent a newer machine. Renting works for us because it helps us ensure that we have the right machine for the application.”

But especially in areas like Texas, where natural gas pipeline work has burgeoned in recent years, the demand for full-time track trenchers has skyrocketed.

“That’s going gangbusters now and most of our customers that do pipeline work there see everyone else using track trenchers, so they’ll start out by renting to see how it works,” Lynch said. “They’re getting a price per foot to put pipe in the ground, and they see they can get four to five times more production from the trencher than an excavator. And, if they get into rocky conditions, they may get up to 10 times more production with a trencher instead of using one excavator with a hammer and another excavator with a bucket.”

For Bottom Line Services, a Texas underground company that focuses on building infrastructure for natural gas and hydrocarbon liquids, the rental of a Vermeer T655 Commander 3 with a bucket wheel attachment turned into a purchase.

“We had been looking for a bucket wheel for some time when we were awarded a gathering blanket contract that consisted of laying 60 miles of six-inch and eight-inch natural gas gathering lines of various lengths,” said John Blevins, vice president and general manager of Bottom Line Services, headquartered in George West, TX. “The project area, spread over a 50-mile radius, had the right types of soils to make the bucket wheel a fit for the application.”

“We rented a bucket wheel for the first two months to see how it would perform in those soil conditions,” Blevins explained. “Based on our evaluation, we decided to purchase the trencher and we’ve been working it ever since. It works excellent and has helped us increase our production an average of about 40 percent.”

Relationships
In addition to utilization, production and the cost-to-benefit ratio, there’s also an “X Factor” to consider when renting or buying, and that is the relationship a contractor has with the dealer.