Get a Grip on Lifting Equipment While Staying Within Your Budget

By Ellen Rogers

Over the past few years, the contract glazing industry has seen increasing interest in handling and lifting equipment. Much of that stems from the demand for larger and larger glass sizes that can’t be moved, handled or installed by hand safely. While contract glaziers may be eyeing these heavy lifters, there are considerations to keep in mind. Ask yourself: do I really need it or do I just want it? If I buy it, how much will I use it and can I afford it? For many companies, that last question is one of the biggest to address. Even if they’ve got the work to warrant the purchase, this equipment represents a significant investment.

Steven Brooks, national sales director with Great Lakes Lifting in Frankfort, Ill., says his company has a number of options to help customers with their equipment purchasing needs.

“We have partnered with two different financing agencies to work with both A+ credit customers and those with credit issues,” he says, adding that his company also offers short/long term rentals, capital leases, traditional leases, rent to owns and used equipment sales.

At Bridgeview, Ill.-based Manitex Valla, Ali Lawton, product specialist and trainer, says customers have a wide variety of equipment purchasing needs.

“Some [work nationwide] and can afford to have lots of machines. Others are up-and-comers and don’t have as much cash. Some customers can buy the machine outright, while others choose to get their own financing,” he says.

Rent or Buy

One question for many customers is whether they should rent or buy.

Rick Bigbee, senior vice president of sales for Bailey Specialty Cranes & Aerials in Muskego, Wis., says customers should evaluate their most common work applications over the past year.

“Most companies aren’t lifting great loads of glass,” he says, “but if [heavy lifting] is 70% to 80% of the job requirements in a year, you know you need to buy.”

He adds, “Renting, however, is always the right choice to start. Once a customer can see they need a machine three to four months a year, purchasing will save cost over renting. It all comes down to utilization.”

Lawton says the ways by which a customer acquires the equipment varies.

“In some cases companies choose to purchase, even if it’s for just one project, because it wouldn’t make sense to rent for 12-18 months if they can purchase and incur the cost in one load rather than spreading it out,” he says. “Others don’t want to carry it on their books so they strictly rent.”

Renting offers a number of advantages.

“With renting, they return the machine after they are done and they don’t have to figure out how to store it,” says Lawton. “Then they just call us when they need another machine for the next job.”

Brooks adds, “When you’re renting equipment it guarantees you the perfect machine for every project … it gives you added flexibility of choosing the right model for the right job,” he says. “Also, you do not have to worry about transportation, storage or maintenance.”

And for those companies that purchase?

“When you own the equipment you get to determine when, who and how the machine gets used.”

Financing Options

After a company makes a decision to buy, leasing and finance options have to be reviewed.

“There are long-term lease options available and that’s the best way to get into a machine and handle the budgets,” says Bigbee.

He says smaller glazing contractors can usually get started with something small and with fairly low payments.

“The larger companies will spend more money for a bigger machine with different attachment options,” says Bigbee. “These include forklift attachments, man baskets, robotics, etc. Then it becomes a multi-use machine and they can up their utilization considerably.”

One common option is known as a rental purchase option. This typically starts with a company renting for a certain period of time and then purchasing. Suppliers apply a certain percentage of the rental payment toward the purchase price of the equipment.

Budget Builders

Another common way contract glaziers are able to get the equipment they need while still maintaining their budget is working the cost into their bid for a project. Brooks says this happens often.

“If a contractor did not put the cost for equipment in the job most times they will still have room for it in the budget due to the amount of man hours saved by utilizing glass lifting equipment,” he adds.

Whether renting or owning, having access to handling and lifting equipment can offer contract glaziers many benefits, including additional opportunities.

“There might be other parts of the project the contract glaziers could build,” Bigbee says. “There are all kinds of applications these days.”

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