– The Ontario Construction Report Special Feature
After almost 45 years of expertise in compact equipment rentals, Cooper Equipment Rentals has effectively expanded its line-up to include heavy and aerial access equipment. Expansion of the equipment offering is a result of Cooper Equipment Rentals’ acquisition of SMS Rents in the fall of 2015.
CEO Darryl Cooper says the company had about 20 employees in two locations for many years. However, in 2010, the company put into action a formal growth plan that added several more locations throughout the GTA and southern Ontario, and the business grew to more than 100 employees.
“Now, with the SMS acquisition, we cover all of Ontario and the greater Montreal area with a team of about 300 highly qualified professionals.”
Company president Doug Dougherty says the growth plan began with an evaluation of the business’s strengths. “We identified that our strength is rooted in our excellent reputation in the industry for service, integrity, reliability and good supplier relationships. In growing, we wanted to maintain those core values and, along the way, build a company that people want to work for and a business that customers are attracted to because we’re easy to work with.”
According to Dougherty, the acquisition of SMS Rents and the expansion into heavy and aerial equipment has created efficiencies for customers’ project planning and on-site execution because customers now have access to everything they may need for their job site in one place. The additional locations and highly qualified employees have also expanded Cooper Equipment Rentals’ distinct service delivery model.
Dougherty says part of the attraction to SMS Rents was its job-ready approach to business that included getting customers the equipment they needed where and when they needed it. This aligns with Cooper Equipment Rentals’ core values. He says maintaining a culture of personalized service beyond the call of duty, through staff that share a passion for delivering the best possible solutions to customers, is integral to any future growth plans.
“We hire good people – and that includes the team from SMS Rents – and then empower them to make decisions and to do good work.”
Dougherty says many of the company’s customers prefer to deal with a local Canadian company whose employees can be more flexible and nimble. “We set guidelines, of course, for how the company runs, but then our approach becomes more inclusive. Our customers find it refreshing to deal with people who can make decisions and keep things moving. Time is money. Our customers value that and our employees are committed to exceeding our customers’ expectations.”
The company’s branch managers have a minimum of 15 years of experience. Field teams include customer service representatives and account managers who work together to meet customers’ needs.
“Our account managers and branch operators work together as one professional team to build strong relationships based on trust and confidence at all levels,” Dougherty said. “They have an abundance of product knowledge and can answer any questions about the products we carry on the spot.”
He says the ultimate goal of the account manager is to help customers solve problems, which may mean advising the customer on a type of equipment that Cooper Equipment Rentals may not even carry, but would be happy to help source. “Our account managers can help the customer with job costing, rental pricing, and equipment recommendations. They understand construction, the phases of a job, and can help make sure the right tools are on site at the right time.”
Dougherty says the company works with all types of business, from smaller independent contractors to large general contractors and institutions.
Cooper Equipment Rentals’ wide range of equipment, he says, lines up with many diverse needs and industry sectors. Cooper Equipment Rentals has segmented its customer base into two categories: service-oriented individuals or managers and procurement officers who are looking for assistance in finding the right equipment for their job to be delivered when they need it.
“We recognize the needs of our customers based on these profiles,” Dougherty says. “This is how we developed our three pillars of service: time, safety and reliability. We work hard to ensure that our customers will receive their requested equipment when they need it so that their job site can stay on schedule.”
“Our equipment is inspected before and after each rental to guarantee it’s in excellent working condition upon delivery. Since we maintain the youngest average fleet age in the market, our equipment is extremely reliable and hardly ever breaks down. In the rare cases that it does, we’ll have a mechanic or replacement equipment on-site as quickly as possible. Cooper Equipment Rentals works hard to ensure that our customers will be able to complete their jobs on time, on budget and safely.”
Cooper’s offerings and services have grown with the expanding business. For example, even before the SMS acquisition, Cooper was proud to add customer safety training courses to its service line-up.
Darryl Cooper says the company has always felt a responsibility to ensure safety for both its employees and clients. Partnering with customers to ensure they are current with required safety training, therefore, has been a natural progression. “We offer the new Working at Heights Training, WHMIS, specific equipment training and more through several training rooms across the GTA. We can also take our training to where our customers need us to be.”
He says the SMS Rents locations will be rebranded as Cooper Equipment Rentals. “We’re well-positioned now, with a good foundation including our equipment fleet, seasoned branch managers, dedicated account managers, as well as our full team of drivers, mechanics and logistics experts. We’ll look for other opportunities to grow again when it makes sense and when the time is right.