ALWAYS WITHIN REACH

High Reach Company

HighReachCompany

Located in Florida, High Reach 2 is an independently owned and operated construction equipment rental company specializing in aerial work platforms. More specifically, it offers boom lifts, scissor lifts, and rough terrain telescopic forklifts.
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The High Reach Company, established in 1972, was purchased in 1978 by the father of High Reach Company General Manager and Managing Member Lance Renzulli. “I began working for High Reach when I was thirteen years old, under my father’s ownership, part time during the summers,” says Renzulli. “I started in the parts department, worked on the wash rack, paint department, and did janitorial duties until moving into a shop foreman type position. By the time I was twenty-five years old, I was promoted to president of the company. My father was more behind the scenes and not involved with the day-to-day operations.”

Today, High Reach continues to be family owned and operated, with both father and son sharing ownership and several family members involved in the business. The company rents machines and specializes in renting aerial work platforms to general contractors and sub-contractors, different municipalities, and industrial power plants. “They even end up in theme parks with different contractors,” adds Renzulli. “These machines are rented to pretty much anyone that would have the need to reach anywhere from 15 to 150 feet.”

The company provides the equipment, not the operators. “We deliver the equipment to the job site, and many of the users out there use these machines every day, so it’s not often an issue,” says Renzulli. “But it does happen from time to time – especially with first-time users – that a customer is not comfortable with operating the equipment. When that happens, our operators are more than happy and always willing and able to assist any customer in getting trained and/or familiar with the equipment. We also offer a more formal training, where you can actually get certified through one of the manufacturers’ online training program, and then we provide the hands-on training here in any of our facilities.”

The family sold the original company in 1998, but there was interest from former employees for them to return to the business. “They would ask if we were going to get back into it,” says Renzulli. “So, at the end of our non-compete period in August 2003, when the tenants vacated the facilities in Sanford and Tampa stores (Deerfield opened the following year) is when the company was reborn as High Reach 2.

“We started up again with about ten employees who had all formerly worked for our first company,” continues Renzulli. “They had gone to work for others but returned to work with us. We had a good core group of people to start out with.”

High Reach 2 rented its first machine out of Sanford, after Thanksgiving in 2003. Then, in March/April 2004, it opened its second facility in Tampa. The following year, a facility in Deerfield Beach was opened. “At that time, each of the facilities was entirely staffed with former employees of the company,” adds Renzulli. The company has since grown to five locations, having opened Jacksonville during the recession and Ocala in 2016.”

There are many factors that set High Reach apart from its competition. “It’s a combination of the relationships, longevity of the company, brand – the whole package,” says Renzulli. “We try to give that personal touch. You’re not going to get a recording when you call here; you’re going to get a live voice. We like to have interaction with our customers.

“Also, unlike most of our competitors, we offer prorated rental rates,” says Renzulli. “This is a very big discount and savings that we believe appropriate for us to pass along to the customer. We also encourage customers not to rush off the job in order to turn in the machine to meet their month-end or weekend deadline, because we do give them the benefit of the proration. If they run over, they get a highly discounted daily rate from that point on.”

High Reach also uses unique industry software. “Genisys is a software company that we’ve utilized in this company since inception,” explains Renzulli. “It is designed specific to the rental industry, although it can accommodate other types of businesses as well. When we found out in 2014 that the software company was under bankruptcy, we began to shop around for a competitive software provider for our business, and in addition to a whole new look and feel, it was going to be very expensive to switch.

“At that time, we had known the people up in Minnesota, where that company was based, for many years; we didn’t bid on it the first go round,” continues Renzulli. “But when the first bids were rejected, we decided to go ahead with a bid on the software. We were awarded the bid in April of 2014. We mainly did it to preserve our own interest at High Reach, but we also did it because we wanted to keep it going for its customer base and to preserve the jobs of the employees we had been working with for the past 11 years.”

High Reach presently has a total of 181 employees; seven of which are assigned to Genisys 2. “It’s a challenge and work in progress as we’re trying to update the software,” says Renzulli. “This is currently being worked on right on site. It’s a sixty-two-week project, and according to a recent report, we’re about forty-eight percent complete.”

High Reach is one of the fastest growing aerial equipment rental companies in the state of Florida, and it is always adding new equipment to its fleet. “We typically add new equipment on by the hundreds,” says Renzulli. “We went from 1,600 units in 2011 to 2,850 plus units today. Other than maybe one competitor, no one has brought in that many machines, in that amount of time, other than us, and we’ve probably brought in $100 million worth of new equipment over the past four years.

“Coming out of the recession, every year is somewhat of a record year, and we hit record year highs in the month of November, which is typically a month where things tend to slow down,” explains Renzulli. “At one point, we had 2,487 units rented out of 2,850; that was a new record. 2016 was a record year for us in gross revenue as well. It’s in part, a product of the market, but it also shows that the company is doing what it should do. We’re very proud of our company.”

High Reach’s largest store is in South Florida, a challenge mainly due to the restricted size of the land and building. “The South Florida market is considered to be the largest market in the state, and I consider Florida to be one of the best states in the country economically. So, the challenge that we’ve had for the last couple years is in finding more property in that market. In that location, we would like to own versus rent. It’s been a challenge, but we’re not giving up on it.”

Another challenge for High Reach is finding new qualified employees. “With unemployment as low as it is, getting new employees on board is a little bit more of a challenge,” says Renzulli. “Instead we are looking at and assessing a less experienced individual who has mechanical aptitude in maintenance and repair background – an employee that is interested in being a Shop Mechanic or a Road Mechanic and bringing them in and getting them more training with senior employees, in hopes that within a couple of years, they will be on their own at an apprentice level. By attending various classes, these young workers could be educating themselves as we educate them, and it would help to continue building the work pool,” adds Renzulli.

“Our focus is on locations, facilities, employees, and meeting the demands of our current customers. The demand for this equipment is so incredibly high. I have never seen it, in my working career, as busy as we are experiencing right now,” says Renzulli.

High Reach operates at the highest standards of the aerial equipment industry. “We like to consider ourselves a higher paying company to our competitors and our competitors at large,” explains Renzulli. “As far as I know, we’ve never hired anyone here for minimum wage, and our starting salary, even at the lowest entry level, is $13.00 per hour. We know how hard it is to make a good living, and if the company can afford to pay a little more, we believe in giving it to our employees.”

This attitude has certainly paid off for the company. “In our time working together, we’ve had very little turnover,” continues Renzulli. “It’s kind of hard to get a job here, but if you do a good job, it’s also hard to lose a job here.”

The company feels very strongly about the area in which it operates and has plans for more expansions in the upcoming years. “We want to add more rental units to the fleet as well as rental assets,” says Renzulli. “We recently added an additional 20,000-square-foot building to our existing Tampa facility, doubling its capacity for maintenance ability.”

Depending on the economy, there are also plans for two more locations within the next five years. “If the market continues to grow, the company will continue to grow with the market, and if we’re growing at the same pace that we are now, we’ll increase our company and our gross revenue by thirty to forty percent,” says Renzulli.

The future certainly looks bright for High Reach 2 as it prides itself on having its customers’ aerial equipment rental needs covered.

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 18, 2019, 1:37 PM EST