Photo by Bobcat
Bobcat S76 Nitrogen Breaker S6c5808 19f5 Fc

Interview with Walter Berry: Strength in Housing

Jan. 4, 2021
Walter Berry shares how the company fared fairly well in several areas of the rental business with unexpected growth in the housing business and new equipment sales.

RER recently interviewed numerous executives of rental companies and distributors regarding how they fared in 2020 and prospects for 2021. Here Berry Companies CEO Walter Berry shares how the company fared fairly well in several areas of the rental business with unexpected growth in the housing business and new equipment sales.

RER: How has business been for you in 2019? How has the pandemic affected your business?

Berry: Our overall business is up 16 percent, with our compact equipment business up 22 percent, heavy equipment up 5 percent, and material handling business down 17 percent.  The housing market in the metro areas we serve is driving the business.

How do you expect the pandemic to affect business going forward into 2021? 

To be honest, I did not expect to be up this year, but at this point I do not see things changing very much going forward.

How has the pandemic affected and changed your company’s ability to meet with customers, go on jobsites and essentially conduct rental business as you always have? 

We are not meeting face-to-face with very many customers and are going to fewer jobsites, but our rental business has not really changed.

How have different areas been affected and how do you expect them to be affected going forward -- homeowner business, small contractors, residential construction, non-residential, industrial, petrochemical, oil and gas, power generation, etc. 

We have seen the most strength in the first three [homeowner, small contractors, residential construction], non-residential is holding steady for now. We don't participate much in the others. I would probably be most concerned about the long-term strength of the non-residential portion.

Have there been any good opportunities that have come out of the pandemic, i.e., more people doing home improvements, work renting to testing centers, etc.? 

The swimming pool installation market is very strong.

This is a very uncertain time in the economy in regard to the pandemic and so many job cancelations. Does this uncertainty benefit rental?

We have been surprised that our rental business is off slightly, while our growth primarily has come from new equipment sales.  This is not what we would have expected in uncertain times.