- Photos by Anthony Jinson
Since 2014, EquipmentShare has innovated new digital solutions to increase productivity and efficiency in the construction industry
Bringing It All Together
Brothers Jabbok and Willy Schlacks were working in the construction industry when they realized how difficult it was to acquire equipment. Many contractors had loads of equipment not in use and sitting around while others had to pay hefty costs to lease equipment from rental companies or buy the equipment outright.
Willy recalls one time when Jabbok “was about 15 feet underground in the middle of a sewer pipeline.” With their own drill miles away, the brothers rented the equipment they needed for the project. When they went to return the drill three days later, they discovered the rental rate, $300, was the going rate for a new drill. “The rental shouldn’t have cost us that much,” Willy explains, “because every contractor has one of those tools.”
Recognizing a more innovative way to approach these issues to make jobs easier for contractors, the pair entered an untapped market in 2014. “EquipmentShare is not another rental company,” Willy explains. “Our goal is to digitize the three verticals of construction — assets, people, and materials — to increase utilization, productivity, and efficiency.”
To do this, the company has an online platform where contractors can lend and rent equipment from other contractors for less than rental companies charge. This rental equipment is connected with fleet management technology that gives contractors and fleet managers the ability to analyze data points pulled from the construction site. The technology provides information on equipment usage, operating hours, down time, idle time, under-usage, and more so that a contractor can sell or rent out underutilized equipment. Maintenance alerts tell a contractor and fleet managers when a vehicle or machine needs maintenance, and geofenced alerts warn them when a fleet leaves the job site.
Willy explains that EquipmentShare’s technology means that all integral parts of construction — assets, people, and materials — are connected in one platform. “These historically invisible parts of construction are now highly visible and trackable among all parties of a construction company,” he says. “When they’re able to measure a fleet’s data, a construction company is more empowered to make better business decisions and increase their efficiency and productivity.”
In 2014, Willy and Jabbok entered Startup Weekend, a multiday entrepreneurial competition, with an idea for EquipmentShare’s digital solutions. The pair took home first place and $2,000 in capital. The brothers incorporated EquipmentShare in Columbia a year later. Now in its seventh year, the 3,000-employee company has more than 90 locations coast to coast.
EquipmentShare’s headquarters, located on Columbia’s far east side, boast a state-of-the-art employee gym facility, a rock climbing wall, a café stocked with snacks and beverages, and a chef who prepares meals for breakfast and lunch as part of the company’s nationwide employee wellness initiatives. The wellness offerings also include a Team Together Fund, which managers may use toward team events, meals, and outings, and a monthly family night bonus that covers the cost of a family dinner. “We believe when you’re healthier, you’re happier — and not just at work,” Danielle Schlacks, a member of the EquipmentShare executive leadership team, said in a press release.
In addition, to make sure workers are healthy and happy, EquipmentShare uses its resources to give back to the local community through different philanthropic efforts. The company’s No Child Hungry program, which celebrated its first anniversary in March, has provided food resources, school supplies, and more to children and families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort has provided more than 140,000 meals since March 2020. EquipmentShare also sponsored the Heart of Missouri United Way’s Literacy Program, providing 2,000 books to second graders in Columbia Public Schools to help them improve their reading skills and learn to love books.
Willy credits his employees for the company’s success. “We’re in a large industry that’s ripe for a solution, but at the end of the day, the No. 1 factor in our company’s growth and success is our employees,” he says.
EquipmentShare looks to continue innovating to find and create solutions for the construction industry. “As we grow and evolve, we’ll start to understand our customers even better so that we can give them the tools to work more productively,” Willy says.
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