Underground Rental Market Bounces Back Strong

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | August 2013, Vol. 68 No. 8
The American Rental Association

Rentals of equipment in the United States are expected to exceed $38 billion in 2013 says the most recent quarterly forecast of the American Rental Association (ARA). The report projects that equipment rental growth compared to 2012 will reach 7.9 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013.

ARA is an international trade association representing the rental industry.

The ARA report cites the construction market and consumer spending as the most important drivers of equipment rentals during 2013.

“The U.S. equipment rental market is expected to continue its upward trajectory and show significant growth through 2017,” says the report. “Strong growth in real residential construction through 2015 will fuel the construction and industrial equipment segment, which is projected to grow 9.8 percent in 2014 and 11.8 percent in 2015.”

In Canada, the equipment rental industry is forecast to generate nearly $4.6 billion in revenue in 2013, a 3.1 percent increase.

The ARA report does not include details about rentals of specific types of equipment or the customers who rent them, but many member stores inventory equipment used in underground construction. Stores specializing in homeowner rentals often carry walk-along trenchers, skid-steer loaders and attachments and compact excavators. General rental centers carry larger equipment such as loader/backhoes and riding trenchers. Larger models, including mid-range excavators are stocked by businesses specializing in equipment rentals.

Trench shielding/shoring and pumps for bypass systems and dewatering are in high rental demand.

Typically, landscapers, plumbers, and electricians are renters of compact trenchers, skid-steers, and excavators. Rental customers for larger equipment include contractors, municipalities and utility companies.

“Rental has grown during the anemic economic recovery through increased penetration,” says Scott Hazelton, a senior partner with IHS Global Insight, which compiled data and analyses for the ARA.

“Residential construction,” he continues, “is strong and that brings demand for new water and sewer services. Because most power and communications cables are placed underground, these areas also create demand for rental equipment.

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