It's all in the family at ABLE Equipment Rental
By Brock Huffstutler

It's all in the family at ABLE Equipment Rental

New York-based firm celebrates 25th anniversary

With six locations, 270 employees and a service territory spanning six states, ABLE Equipment Rental is a mighty presence in the mid-Atlantic corridor’s equipment rental community. While equipment expertise is integral to the company’s 25-years-and-counting growth trajectory, its leadership team, to a person, says that the key to the company’s success lies in the fact that at its core, ABLE is a family.

“That’s one of the things that drew me to this company. The way that ABLE is structured, the people here — it is a family. I can’t wait to get up in the morning and come to the office,” says Stacy Irons, vice president of sales operations for Deer Park, N.Y.-based ABLE.

Family owned and operated ABLE Equipment Rental was founded in 1996 by Steve Laganas. The enterprise was an extension of Laganas’s machinery moving business, which involved relocating equipment from warehouses, power plants and manufacturing facilities.

To conduct his operations, Laganas occasionally needed to rent equipment. From there, a light went on. “He found that [his company] could be a pretty good entry into the equipment rental business. So, he started to buy some inventory and formed ABLE Equipment Rental here on Long Island,” says Chris Pera, ABLE’s chief operating officer.

ABLE characterizes itself as primarily an aerial-focused company, specializing in mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) and related accessories. “Our customer base is general construction, utilities, infrastructure, steel erectors, bridge and road, as well as industrial platforms that can carry cranes and large equipment,” Pera says.

While other rental companies carry similar equipment, the ABLE team says it is their concentration on specialty product lines that helps them stand out from the pack.

“We have the Falcon and Bluelift atrium lift lines, which fits through doorways that are 36 in. wide with working heights up to 138 ft. Then we have Magni Rotating Telehandlers — machines that can perform as a forklift, crane and aerial work platform that can carry material and/or people to heights up to 167 ft. and in very tight quarters. We are the dealer/distributor of that product up and down the east coast, from Massachusetts to Northern Virginia. We’ve gone after more of these specialty products so that we don’t become a ‘me too,’ where the differentiation from others is only in your rental rates, availability and timely delivery. Many others can provide that. We want to have a special side to it,” Pera says.

Another service that sets ABLE apart is its product training team, which has been tapped by rental customers, public utilities and more.

“We have individuals who have been certified by different manufacturers as Train-the-Trainers or as trainers themselves,” Pera says. “That enables us to have both in-classroom and combined hands-on/classroom sessions at our facilities or at customer facilities, or familiarization right on job sites. PSEG Long Island [a public electric utility supplier] is a large client of ours. We will go into their facilities and train 100 people. We can also train at electrical unions or metal, stud and drywall unions around the states we work within. We’ll go to their locations, drop off equipment and hold classes for maybe four days for 20-plus people.”

Like many in the industry, ABLE Equipment Rentals is working hard to navigate the widespread challenge of recruiting skilled labor.

“We’ve had quite a bit of success working with trade schools, offering their students opportunities to learn about our products,” says Mindi Parrott, director of human resources for ABLE. “Sometimes, trade school graduates want to go into areas like high-end automotive repair, fixing BMWs or trendy sport and luxury cars. When they see the potential in working with our high-tech product lines, we can usually show them how this is a win-win opportunity. We look for people who are loyal, hardworking and problem solvers. In return, we provide on-the-job training in a rapidly expanding market and the potential for
career advancement and long-term job security.”

As she works to recruit employees, Parrott’s top selling point is the environment of close relationships that has grown around ABLE.

“One of the best things about working here is that when you walk in, you feel like you work at a family business,” she says. “Even as we have grown, we are still a business that is very employee focused. Steve Laganas tries to shake every new employee’s hand as they walk into this building. I think that connection helps set the tone for the team environment that exists here and there’s more opportunity for career growth because of it.”

That family-oriented approach has paid off for the company. ABLE has positioned itself for future growth by attracting some of its key players from heavy-hitting organizations from within and outside of the equipment rental realm.

“Stacy [Irons] and I come from bigger organizations,” says Tom Caldaroni, ABLE’s chief financial officer. “She came from United Rentals, and my background is with Price Waterhouse, Terex and Daimler Benz. Coming here to ABLE, they make you feel welcome. The number of people who come up and tell you, ‘You’re going to be here for the rest of your life if you want to be,’ is absolutely amazing.”

Irons agrees, adding that “You feel welcomed here to share ideas because you want your family to continue to grow as you’re looking to the future. And there is going to be a bright future for this company because of that aspect.”

What’s next for ABLE? Simply put, continued innovation and growth.

“We are totally embracing technology,” says Neil Goldstein, marketing manager. “Every aspect of our company involves some form of technology to move us ahead and make us more productive, which fits our bottom line. An example of this is our current telematics initiative led by Dave [Mansbart, ABLE’s product specialist/trainer, who also serves as ARA of New York president]. We’re forging ahead here. I have been thrilled to see ABLE’s name and brand grow exponentially from being known around metro New York to now being known nationally. That’s a credit to everyone in the company.”

Brock Huffstutler

Brock HuffstutlerBrock Huffstutler

Brock Huffstutler is the regional news editor for Rental Management. He writes and edits articles for ARA’s In Your Region quarterly regional newsletters, Rental Management, Rental Pulse and other special projects. Outside of work, he enjoys biking and spending time at the few remaining vintage record stores in the region.

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