Essex Rental Corp. posted $12 million in rental revenue for the first quarter, compared to $11 million in the first quarter of 2014, a 9-percent increase. Total revenues increased from $21.1 million a year ago to $22.1 million, a 4.7-percent increase.
The Essex Crane division posted $7.9 million in revenue, compared to $8.3 million a year ago. The Coast Crane division also posted a decrease, from $6.8 million a year ago to $6.4 million. However, both divisions offset those declines with improved gross profit with stronger margins. And the equipment distribution portion of the revenue more than doubled from $1.3 million a year ago to $2.8 million.
Hydraulic crawler crane utilization increased to 73 percent for the quarter compared to 57.5 percent a year ago. City and other tower crane utilization increased to 56.5 percent for the first quarter compared to 39.1 percent a year ago. Self-erecting tower crane utilization hiked to 51.4 percent compared to 44.1 percent for the year-ago quarter.
“The continued strength in utilization of our hydraulic crawler crane and tower crane fleets was the primary driver of the $1 million year-over-year increase in equipment rental revenue,” said Nick Matthews, president and CEO of Essex. “The operating leverage inherent in our model has become more apparent as the rental segments of both Essex Crane and Coast Crane improved quarterly gross profit and gross profit percentage materially compared to the same period in 2014.
“We continue to experience more active rental end markets and anticipate that this trend will continue throughout 2015. As we progress out of our seasonal soft period and move past some of the non-recurring costs and restatement issues that negatively impacted our first quarter results, we are excited to continue the progress we made on our strategic initiatives and make operational improvements to efficiently manage the increased activity expected from the broad array of end markets that we serve.”