Geotechnical and environmental markets are driving forces in rentals

Rig availability can depend on the season as well as market demands.

Editor's note: Part 1 of this article considered the benefits of renting equipment and what contractors should expect. We continue the discussion here with Mike Crimaldi, a former drilling contractor and owner of Rig Source Inc., a rental firm in Elburn, Ill., who offers an insider's perspective on this growing market.

Renting equipment is a very different approach for an industry that prides itself on rig ownership. “It's basically a new concept,” Mike Crimaldi reveals. “Drilling contractors aren't used to spending money on rental machines - only when they're really in a bind or when they have a big job coming up and they know they're going to be busy.” Yet, many contractors have begun exploring this viable alternative.

A water buggy, part of the Rig Source fleet.

Trends Identified

When asked about rental industry market trends, Crimaldi reports, “I think there's more of a demand for rental equipment in the geotech market - structural borings, things like that.

“The biggest trend right now seems to be the environmental consultants are renting and buying refurbished machines, so they don't have to rely on the contractor. Because the equipment is getting easier to run and easier to maintain, they're trying to keep the money in-house.”

Discussing equipment popularity and what generates the biggest demand, Crimaldi notes, “I'd say the biggest stuff is the geotech. I probably get the most calls on that. The Geoprobes probably are equally popular - direct-push equipment. Sometimes it's one or sometimes it's the other. Sometimes you're really busy with auger rigs, and you're getting calls every day for an auger rig, then you don't get calls for five, six weeks. Then the Geoprobe stuff is sitting here, then it's gone. It goes both ways.”

There is quite a range of drilling equipment for rent.

Availability of rental equipment can depend on the season as well as demand. Contractors should try to anticipate their needs in advance, when possible. “I think the other thing, too, is,” Crimaldi explains, “there's more demand in the environmental side per quarter. Let's say you have a customer who says, 'You did some monitoring wells for us. The state wants us to put in two more wells and get the results before the end of the quarter. They're giving everyone a deadline and then we'll reimburse you.' There's a time crunch on the environmental side for reimbursement. On the geotech side, there can be a time crunch based on the season.

“On the auger rig side, because I deal in ATVs, it is a little more seasonal. It seems like late summer until May, anybody who would rent a machine would be crazy to give it up because that's when they'd need it because it's an all-terrain rental. The direct-push machines that I rent, they're track-mounted, but they can be used any time.”

Not limited to rigs: Support equipment also is widely available for rent.

Customer Care

Something else that contractors looking into the rental market should consider is whether or not the lending company they choose can provide strong customer service and support. When contractors rent units due to a mechanical breakdown or high job demands, they need to know that the equipment they're renting and the company they're renting from both are reliable. “I'd say the reason people call here for a rental is they feel that there's somebody who's willing to help them and support them and has the experience to do all those things,” Crimaldi reveals. “I've done what they're doing for most of my life, so I do understand what they're going through.” ND