HSS RentX's 10-Minute Miracle

Oct. 1, 2003
When HSS RentX launched its national presence in mid-2001, the word “innovation” crept into virtually every discussion of company culture. It instilled

When HSS RentX launched its national presence in mid-2001, the word “innovation” crept into virtually every discussion of company culture. It instilled its own information technology, redefined its inventory and revamped its market communications.

Now HSS RentX is the conduit for the latest product introduction from its parent company, British-based HSS Plc, which has a unique history of investing in research and development. When managing director Lister Fielding became convinced that rental customers would be better served by a more transportable, user-friendly cabin than those currently available, the company developed the PODZ, a lightweight, portable storage and accommodation unit whose patented design is the brainchild and exclusive property of HSS. In the United States, the product is called CabinZ.

“We wanted something that would set up and dismantle quickly, stack, link and be deliverable on a small truck at a low cost to the renter,” says Fielding. “By contrast, traditional [wood and metal] cabins can be doubly restrictive — too costly to transport for short-term rentals, and too unwieldy for rental operators with small- to mid-sized yards. The polyethylene construction and unique design of our product solved all of these issues.”

HSS paid for 100 percent of the product's research and development and also owns the intellectual property and associated production tools. The company worked with U.K.-based Wolfe Designs Limited to develop and implement the specifications, and Wolfe remains an ongoing manufacturing partner. This past spring PODZ captured the 2003 Award For Excellence from SED, the U.K.'s largest construction equipment exhibition.

“I believe that one of our units was set up in seven minutes by two people during the SED demonstration,” says HSS RentX chief executive officer Carlo Cavecchi. “No doubt that clinched it! When we talk about CabinZ to our U.S. customers we add a few minutes' grace period and call it our ‘10-minute miracle.’ If you've ever wrestled with a steel storage unit, crane and all, you can easily visualize the benefits of CabinZ. It's delivered as a flatpack, no crane needed. Assembly is very straightforward, requiring no special tools or skills.” Several options are available, including interior lights and ventilation windows.

Hard on the heels of its U.K. introduction, an inaugural shipment of CabinZ has arrived at HSS RentX branches in Colorado, Southern California and South Florida. Initial reception has been encouraging, says Cavecchi. “CabinZ can go places where a conventional unit cannot — into elevators and stairwells, through almost any doorway, down embankments, even underground.” He estimates that a mid-sized construction company can conceivably save more than $8,000 a year in transportation and erection costs.

HSS RentX already has fulfilled initial rental requests for CabinZ, and anticipates partnering with a U.S. manufacturer, says Fielding. “If demand continues to grow as it has in the U.K., we will probably seek to manufacture under license. We're also interested in securing distributorships and in selling to end-users. In Continental Europe our own franchisees act as distributors and we are in early talks with one or two other parties. Meanwhile, quantities out on rent are going up slowly but steadily.” HSS operates more than 800 branches in 12 countries.

HSS admits that the large polyethylene panels that make up CabinZ initially proved difficult to produce because of their size. “Three specialist pattern and tool-making companies said it wasn't possible because it had never been done before on such a large scale with a double-skinned tool,” says Fielding. “Orbital molding is always a challenging process, and our unit's base and ceiling panels are the largest single-shot, double-skinned rotationally molded components in the whole of Europe.” Each panel takes 40 minutes to mold before being placed in a controlled cooling jig where it cools down for three days and shrinks by 4 percent in the process.

“CabinZ is a textbook case of months of hard work behind the scenes translating into extraordinary ease of use for the customer,” says Cavecchi. “This product is one of numerous innovations that have been funded by HSS, but it stands out as a milestone for our company and our customers. We believe it has the potential to ignite a near-universal improvement in work site practices.”

Currently, 85-store HSS RentX acts as the sole source for CabinZ in North America. The company welcomes inquiries from parties interested in renting, buying, distributing or manufacturing CabinZ: 1-866-414-5310, [email protected].

Lucy Peterson is president of Balboni Associates, Springfield, Mass. She can be reached at [email protected]



Tough polyethylene construction is weatherproof
Two-man assembly in 10 minutes, no special tools needed
All components pass through a standard doorway
Modular and linkable
No cranes required


One CabinZ unit: 908 lbs. complete Weight of heaviest component (base or roof): 209 lbs.

External Dimensions:

Length: 8 ft. 6 in.
Width: 5 ft. 11 in.
Height: 7 ft. 5 in.

Internal Dimensions:

Height: 6 ft. 3.5 in.
Floorspace: 43 sq. ft.
Volume: 275 cu. ft.

Components, each unit:

Base (1)
Roof (1)
Corner post (4)
Side wall (2)
End wall (1)
Flip door (1)
Ramp door (1)
Floor panel (1)