Ben Blood, 27, vice president, Big L Rentals and Sales, Garden City, Kan., says he started in the equipment rental industry with a summer job in high school that turned into his chosen career.
“I always knew I wanted to do something related to construction, bouncing back and forth between architecture, engineering and a few other fields. Originally, I fell in love with the rental industry because of its fast-paced nature and the continual challenge of new issues to handle and problems to solve,” Blood says.
“Today, the rental industry excites me because I believe that all businesses are trending towards being more specialized and focused in their operations, which is opening the door to both new product lines as well as new rental customers who previously owned the majority of their fleet,” he says.
Big L Rentals & Sales is a general rental company that has been transitioning toward becoming an aerial specialist and currently has a team of 24 employees.
“About 80 percent of our investment is in mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) and telehandlers. We focus a lot of our effort towards supporting millwright companies in meat processing and grain-handling facilities, but commercial construction and other industrial maintenance are significant market segments for us as well,” Blood says.
In 2012, Big L was acquired by Volvo Rents and took a hiatus from membership in the American Rental Association (ARA) and then rejoined when it once again became an independent rental company in 2017.
“While much of the team remained the same, we knew there had been significant changes to the industry, primarily in regard to new technologies. We decided that ARA provided the best resources to interact with other rental operators and learn what the new best practices might be,” Blood says.
“ARA has helped us in countless ways, primarily by fostering collaboration between small independents like ourselves, but we also are excited to see so many new changes, primarily in the training and education,” he says.
Blood says there are two parts of his job that make up his day and keep him coming back for more.
“First is coaching and developing employees and watching their growth over the years. A close second is finding creative ways to solve problems for our clients,” he says.
He is most proud of how his team built and executed a plan to respond to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which initially caused a 60 percent drop in rental volume. The company, however, emerged with significantly improved processes and ended 2020 with year-over-year revenue growth of 20 percent.
This year, Big L also earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., reporting an average growth rate of 112 percent from 2018 to 2021 to come in at No. 4,160.
“The rental industry as a whole is experiencing incredible growth with strong prospects for the foreseeable future, meaning stability and opportunity for growth are almost guaranteed,” Blood says, making equipment rental a solid career choice.
“In addition, as technology becomes an increasingly critical component of how rental companies operate their businesses, younger, tech-savvy talent is seeing greater demand as we all try to utilize the new tools being developed,” he says.