What is the key to success in today's construction market? If you ask Rene Sanchez of Rene's Equipment Rental, a multifaceted firm offering a variety of equipment and construction services to clients in Dade and South Broward County and surrounding areas, he might say the key is loyalty — to customers, to employees and to suppliers. He might say that the key is relationships. He might say the key is picking the right equipment for the job, and then finding and keeping the right people to operate it.
Indeed, he credits each of the elements as factors in his company's success — and here's how it came to be.
Sanchez got his start in construction at the age of 16.
"With the help of one of my relatives I began learning how to operate equipment," he says. He continued to hone his equipment operating skills over 12 years working for a local contractor and as a member of the Operating Engineers, and then — in the mid 1990s — he began to think about going to work on his own.
"It was something I wanted to do," he says, "and I saw the opportunity."
The result was Rene's Equipment Rental, a company formed to provide machines with operators to contractors and others who needed excavation services. Today, it's one of the largest companies of its type in the area.
Sanchez expanded the scope of his operation when, about five years ago, he formed a joint venture partnership with Luis Alberto Jimenez and Master Paving Engineering, a contractor specializing in underground utility, site work, drainage, and paving projects.
Luis Alberto's brother, also named Luis, soon left a management career with a large corporation to join the company. His sister Gleydis Jimenez also joined the company, coming from a career as a manager for a major building supplies firm to manage the company's office operation as well as to handle marketing and sales.
Rounding out the company is its equipment transport arm, which utilizes a fleet of Landoll lowboys to transport equipment for other contractors and for equipment dealers as well.
"In this business," Sanchez says, "the sky's the limit."
Sanchez bought his first machine — a Deere 310D backhoe loader — from Carlos Rodriguez at Nortrax in Miami. He then went to work providing backhoe services for contractors and others in the area.
"My first project was at the Henry M. Flagler Elementary School," Sanchez says, adding, "Actually, that was my own elementary school years before."
The fledgling business quickly grew, and Sanchez expanded his fleet. Today the fleet includes close to a dozen Deere 310 backhoes, several Deere 450 dozers, in addition to larger machines such as a Deere 330C excavator and 624J loader. BOMAG 211 compactors are also in the lineup.
The company's fleet also includes smaller machines such as the Deere 80 excavator and 320 mini loader.
"Small machines like that are popular with our customers," he says. Reasons include the fact that they are "light on the ground."
"They are also machines that can get into tight areas," he says, "and that's something that our customers often look for."
One factor in his company's success, Rene says, is the value he places on finding and developing the right employees.
"I pay them very well," he adds, "and with that comes good guys."
Sanchez pays particular attention to hiring operators who are not only highly skilled but also versatile.
"In a business like this one," he says, "an operator might spend four hours on a backhoe, then four hours on an excavator or loader." Ideally, he adds, he likes his operators to be "masters of a least five different pieces of equipment."
Is it difficult to find such people? It can be, Sanchez says, but he adds that "word gets around."
"Word of mouth is important," he says. "We have been in business in this town for a while, and the word about what we look for has gotten around."
Sanchez also places great value on maintaining good relationships with those in the equipment industry who have helped him grow his fleet over the years. He specifically mentions Carlos Rodriguez, the salesman who sold him that very first machine back in the mid 90s.
"Carlos has been a key part of the success of this business," Sanchez says, adding that the relationship as grown from one of salesman-customer to one of friend. "Whenever we call him," Sanchez adds, "he is there."
Rene Sanchez is one who believes in hanging on to the important things, and one thing that's important to him is that very first Deere 310D backhoe loader.
"I've still got that machine," he says. In the early years of the company the machine stayed busy on a variety of projects, he adds, but today he's retired it to his home place in Redlands.
"I've become attached to that machine," he says. "Today, I use it on our home place. I operate it with my son Nicholas, who's seven years old. He's starting to learn about equipment already, and that's my hope — that I'll someday pass that machine on to him."