Editor’s note: In May 2013, Chris Carmolingo was named president and CEO of Trico Lift, Millville, N.J., an independent aerial equipment rental and sales specialist company with six branch locations covering the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast Regions. The company rents, sells, repairs, provides parts, preventive maintenance, inspections and operator training for all makes and models of aerial lifts. Its access equipment fleet includes a full complement of aerial work platforms, including boom lifts, scissor lifts and rough terrain or telescopic forklifts. Carmolingo replaced Ken Pustizzi, a company co-founder, who retired last year. Carmolingo has been with Trico Lift for 20 years and most recently served as chief operating officer before his promotion to president and CEO. He recently spoke with Rental Management about the aerial equipment rental business. An edited version of that conversation follows.
RM: What is your charge as the president and CEO of Trico Lift?
Chris Carmolingo: Trico Lift has a strong foundation and reputation for aerial lift knowledge, availability and service. I was able to see that first-hand throughout my 20 years of service prior to being named president and CEO. I am honored and humbled to accept this position and look forward to continuing to steer our team towards achieving excellence. My immediate focus has been on growing our fleet availability, addressing facility expansions, growing our training offerings, expanding our sales team and increasing our marketing presence. All of these efforts are firmly knitted to our company-wide goal of being the aerial lift specialist.
RM: The aerial business is in the midst of recovery. Rental companies seem to be buying more aerial equipment again. Is Trico Lift expanding its inventory and are you seeing greater demand from customers?
Carmolingo: We have invested in a significant fleet expansion over the past two years. We intend to continue to grow our fleet at a rate that reflects the expected increase in demand from customers as well as our overall plan to increase our market penetration.
RM: Is there a movement toward bigger equipment or are you finding more interest from customers looking for safer ladder replacement equipment?
Carmolingo: We have actually experienced growth in both the request for bigger equipment and for “ladder replacement” equipment. As a result, we have increased our rental inventory to keep pace with the demand in these two areas.
RM: Are you seeing any trends in technological advances in aerial equipment today from manufacturers? How does Tier 4 impact your business?
Carmolingo: Safety and reliability will remain the greatest priorities related to technological advances in aerial lift equipment. The equipment is safer than it was years ago due to more advanced envelope management systems. The move toward more environmentally friendly equipment through the introduction of Tier 4 engines will have a significant impact on our business in a variety of ways. Most immediately and obviously, the increased Tier 4 engine cost will increase the cost of rental equipment. Tier 4 regulations also call for additional engine monitoring and maintenance, which will affect our customers as well as our service operations.
RM: What is your outlook for the short- and long-term?
Carmolingo: I believe that the focus that we have on a single equipment vertical along with the corporate culture that we have created positions us to be an industry leader for years to come. Our philosophy that our customers deserve added value resonates in everything that we do.
RM: Have you increased your emphasis on training and safety in any way?
Carmolingo: Safety and training are ingrained in our culture. Equipment can be replaced, but people cannot. Safety is the very the foundation of our corporate goals structure. We have been an industry leader in this category for many years. The only way to achieve the safety standards we have set for ourselves is through thorough and diligent training. We continue to offer internal staff and customer safety training in all six of our locations, and will look to increase the frequency and breadth of our offerings moving forward.
RM: What are your chief business concerns at this time?
Carmolingo: In our industry, the fundamentals that affect our return on investment continue to degrade. Equipment costs continue to increase more rapidly than rental rates. Tier 4 engine requirements will continue to increase this gap and will require us to clearly define the value for our customers who will inevitably experience rate increases. Taken in their entirety, these issues require us to be as efficient as possible in operating our business.
RM: What’s the sales pitch for Trico Lift? Why should someone rent or buy equipment from your company?
Carmolingo: Trico Lift is the largest privately held aerial lift specialist company in North America. Every employee at Trico Lift is actively engaged in leveraging the fact that they have 100 percent focus on aerial lifts and telehandlers. They gain valuable hours of experience in their trade, specific to aerial lifts, each and every day. We rent, sell, provide parts and training, and offer service on all types of aerial lifts at all six of our locations. We are large enough to provide the quantity and variety of aerial lift equipment that companies both large and small require. However, we also are grounded enough to provide individualized, traditional service that has helped us create relationships across a variety of industries.
The fact is that we are specialists from the inside out. Our employees live, eat and breathe aerial. The more time we spend
with aerials, the more knowledgeable we become. The experience we gain through our constant contact with aerial equipment separates us from general rental companies. We have one product vertical. Our technicians touch the same type of equipment every day. As a result, we are well prepared to quickly diagnose issues and keep equipment operational.