Our December issue, devoted to RER’s annual Innovative Product Award winners is one of my favorites of the year – and I probably say that every year, so please excuse my redundancy, which stems from enthusiasm. Every year I’m impressed and amazed by the wonderful innovations in construction equipment. When people I know from other areas of life ask me why I get enthused about the great equipment this industry rents, and they don’t get it, sometimes I hand them this issue and hopefully they will.
I and the RER staff did not vote for these entries, rather we handed them off to a panel of more than a dozen rental people and a few other industry participants. That’s probably a good thing because as I read through them I kept thinking, “This is the best,” then “no, this is the best,” and on and on. It was a bit like going into one of these ice cream parlors with 50 flavors and having to choose.
I think a lot of people will be impressed with the Gold Award winner, the Bibilift 26-BL, a product that none of our judges had heard of from an Italian manufacturer. The Bibilift, a scissorlift on tracks, inspired a lot of interest. “With an eye on safety, accessibility and versatility, I felt that the Bibilift addresses the issues facing safe loading and unloading from delivery rigs, efficient travel at tough-access jobsites and an incredible ability to stay level under trying conditions,” said Mike Crouch, president and COO of Acme Lift Co.
Point-of-Rental Software, making a return appearance in the IPA winners’ circle, comes through with a system that can save rental companies a lot of time in getting deliveries out on the road quicker and enhancing efficiency in their rental businesses. And Manitou’s MRT 3255 Privilege Plus Rotating telescopic handler has enough new innovations for a whole column, undoubtedly produced with that company’s usual fine engineering.
Check out Hilti’s new TE 1000-AVR breaker, which, when used with its new chisel offers an increase in demolition performance. How about the Makinex dual pressure washer that combines a rotary cleaner and wand pressure washer in one machine? JLG’s newly redesigned cab layout and new control panel; Generac’s new light tower that eliminates the rear jack while still withstanding 65 mph winds; the stability of Diamond Products’ new early entry saw; National Trench Safety’s high-strength aluminum shield that blends the strengths of steel shields with the lightweight benefits of aluminum; and the appropriately named Tent Ox, an integrated system of 10 specialized tools that help tent and event rental businesses increase employee safety, reduce the impact on turf, and drive down labor costs.
Also JCB offers a swing-bracket design on its new compact excavator to work in more confined spaces; Toro’s new vertical lift loader arm design on its Dingo TX 1000; and Terex Generation 2 loaders with more than 100 upgrades.
There are many more that we’ll profile in the next few issues.
All these products start from ideas, often from customers asking for different capabilities that aren’t there yet. Then comes the hard work of figuring out a way to create that capability in a way that works, with fine engineering, and making it user-friendly enough so that renting customers, who may not necessarily be expert operators can use them productively and efficiently.
It is ingenuity and imagination and above all hard work that make these advancements possible. I recently heard a great story from John Durante of Durante Rentals about his new sales manager Damien Respoli. When Respoli was a boy, his father owned a construction supply and tool rental business and one day young Damien told his dad he wanted to be the boss of the business. His dad handed the boy a broom. “If you want to be the boss, first you have to learn how to sweep the floors,” Mr. Respoli said.
It’s pretty clear the message Mr. Respoli was communicating to his young son, and it’s similar to the one many business owners in this industry have passed along to their kids. Respoli learned about the business from the ground up, as well as the importance of hard work and customer service.
These innovative products started with ideas and the will to make them happen. And then somebody along the way grabbed a broom.