Running hot, too hot!?!
I have been involved in the Auckland commercial access hire market for over a decade now and November 2022 kicked off a period of high demand no one has ever seen before. It’s normal to have one or two weeks in the year, usually around spring, where the entire Auckland access fleet is out on hire with even the super fleets like Hirepool and Total Access having completely bare yards. This causes a brief wait list scenario which holds up one or two projects for a week max. At this point the Auckland access hire companies will usually work together to source equipment, help each other out, and keep projects on track as it is in everyone’s best interest to keep the pipeline on track and make construction a profitable industry. But last November was different, very different.
It was the perfect storm of factors with commercial construction projects still playing catch up after covid era delays. Not enough staff, not enough materials, weather, all that stuff had given the commercial sector a very long pipeline of work to
get through. Then the residential construction market slowed down, so tradies shifted sectors. Skilled labour and materials began to flow into the commercial sector. Orders for hire equipment began to rev up and just like a classic V8 engine it was a sweet sound to hear for hire companies. …..But then that revving engine ticked over into the redline.
By Christmas sales reps were no longer sales reps, they were stressed out air traffic controllers doing their best to find equipment for their customers. Across Auckland it became a daily routine of calling each other to see what had become available and who could help who. Sales targets were being smashed and everyone was looking forward to a break. “It can’t run like this for much longer” was a common phrase in January 2023, it was still common in April. By May we had just become battled harden to the daily grind of trying to find gear and quickly turning around gear that had been returned. Buy more gear? Sure, nice thought, and we did, but New Zealand is far away from the scissor lift factories and they weren’t ready for the demand. They had their own issues with shipping costs, worldwide demand, not to mention steel and fuel prices literally under fire from the war in Ukraine.
Finally in July, things began to cool and there was light at the end of the pipeline. I’ve spoken to many construction companies who have almost nothing going on for August and September and are honestly thankful for the break. My company, SWIFT Construction Hire, is also thankful for the slow down as it gives us time to develop the business, look after our staff, and make plans for the future.
But we need the pipeline to fill again and as I write this, I’m very aware that spring is here, the ground is drying out, and this when construction starts to ramp up again. So what did we learn? At team SWIFT we learnt to only work with companies and customers who have their shit together and do the job right. Safety. Quality. Service.
Be valued and useful, do the work and soar with the eagles, breath the clean air. …or take short cuts, be useless and filter mud with the other bottom feeders.
-Aaron Beard, SWIFT Director and BDM.