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What will the New Year bring?

Leigh W Sparrow, Publisher
Leigh W Sparrow, Publisher

January 3, 2014 - With 2013 finally behind us the consensus of opinion within the market sectors we cover is that it was more stable or better than 2012. But what of this year?  

With 2013 firmly behind us most of those working in the crane, access and telehandler markets agree that it was at worst as good as 2012, and for many a good deal better and more optimistic than expected.

Most forecasts and outlooks suggest that 2014 will be even better for those who saw improvement in 2013 and that most of those economies that suffered and languished, will finally see a gradual move towards growth and prosperity. None of this is certain of course and many challenges still exist, however within our sector there is a great deal of potential, over and above any economic improvement.

While the picture this year definitely looks rosier, that does not mean a return to full fat-and-happy times. With costs continuing to rise faster than rates, rental companies need to be looking at increasing or being more organised and disciplined with rental rates. Manufacturers have already increased prices and have made significant progress towards restoring margins. Higher new equipment prices has some advantages for rental companies, in that it raises the cost of entry for new start-ups and increases the value of existing fleets as used equipment prices react.

However rental companies cannot keep absorbing higher costs as they are squeezed between manufacturers and customers. Our recent look at UK rental rates (the UK is the world’s most developed rental market) due to be published next week, shows they are no better than they were 10 years ago, and yet just about every cost involved with providing the service has risen substantially. This aberration has to be blamed - at least in part - on the industry as a whole being less well structured, organised and, dare I say it, professional than its two bookends – manufacturers and mid to large contractors.

This has to change if the industry as a whole is to prosper. Perhaps all those employed in crane, access and telehandler rental operations should make this a New Year resolution? But please forgive me if I do not hold my breath.

In the meantime I wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous year in 2014.

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