Scaffolding magazine DER GERÜSTBAUER in conversation with Stephan Winterhoff, responsible at Scafom-rux for the business of RUX Rental GmbH
DER GERÜSTBAUER: RUX Rental GmbH has established itself on the market as a rental company for scaffolding equipment. Isn't that the business of your customers?
Stephan Winterhoff: RUX Rental GmbH is an independent company that actually deals with the rental of scaffolding material. The scaffolder is our customer, not our competitor. What unites the scaffolder and us is that we buy from the same manufacturer, the Scafom-rux Group. And that is a good thing.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: Why?
Stephan Winterhoff: Because RUX Rental GmbH, with its adequate material pool, is a usable and useful addition to the Scafom-rux customer's material stock.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: That means that only Scafom-rux customers rent from you?
Stephan Winterhoff: As you know, the Scafom-rux Group is a supplier for a wide range of approved scaffolding systems. Users of all systems can rent supplementary material from us.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: Do you have all the standard systems available for rental?
Stephan Winterhoff: Almost. Of course, there are also systems that we do not rent out, but that concerns those that their manufacturers rent out themselves, because they get hold of the projects for formwork and/or scaffolding for themselves. Here one could rightly express the suspicion underlying your initial question.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: To get it right, again the question, why are you doing the same thing as the scaffolder, which is renting out material?
Stephan Winterhoff: Look: a scaffolder is asked by building owners for scaffolding including the associated service. The first difference between the scaffolder and us is that we don't offer any assembly services, which is why we don't serve these clients at all. If, for example, decks are missing in such projects because the scaffolder has to bring all his frames and brackets into use at the same time, then he can rent them for the building project, which may last three or five months. The scaffolder is also welcome to buy them from the Scafom-rux Group, sure, but if he can't or doesn't want to buy, we are there for him. We are also there for the scaffolder if he needs a special component for a building project that he would not otherwise use. Or if, for example, he has to use a tarpaulin or cassette roof, needs a concrete ballast, escape stair towers or large bridging girders. Not every scaffolder has to keep these components in stock. Nor does every farmer have his own expensive combine harvester.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: For scaffolding users, there are sufficient possibilities today to acquire material by means of favourable hire-purchase or leasing options. Why do customers still choose the more expensive option of short-term rental?
Stephan Winterhoff: Because the somewhat more expensive short-term rental can be the cheaper option in the long run. If the scaffolder is only likely to use a component for one construction project, buying it simply makes no sense. Even if the component would be paid for by the income after use, in the end it takes up storage space, it has to be registered and inventoried, efforts may have to be made to remarket such an exotic component, etc. In the end, dead capital often remains. If such scaffolding components - which is more likely - are not paid for after a single construction project, nor have they been financed, costs for exceptional components run up all year long, which cannot be used at all in the off-season. The short-term rental rates, on the other hand, are are directly absorbed by the project.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: Do you only rent out individual special components or is it possible to get the complete scaffolding for a building project, from the base jack to the roof catch?
Stephan Winterhoff: Both are possible. It happens that a scaffolder has erected ten scaffolds for his regular customer and has no more material for the eleventh scaffold. Before the scaffolder leaves this customer to the next competitor, he would do well to get this material from somewhere. Of course, the scaffolders also help each other with material, but when every scaffold erector is at full capacity during the season, the hour of RUX Rental GmbH strikes. For the scaffolder it is important that he can take 70 to 80 % of the material for his orders from his own stock, 20 to 30 % additional short-term rental is then a healthy mixture. What we don't support is supplying new start-ups with rental material. That doesn't pay off. You don't rent cars from a car rental company to open a car rental business. For start-ups, there are other options in the financing toolbox on the sales side.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: These days we are experiencing extreme price distortions in the resources market. How are the price increases reflected in the rental rates?
Stephan Winterhoff: Just like the scaffolder, RUX Rental GmbH has to pay the manufacturer's surcharges. These surcharges are not play money to secure or even generate an improvement in the manufacturer's margin, but a contribution to halting the extreme deterioration in margins. In my estimation, all manufacturers are already producing with a minimum margin despite surcharges. In this respect, RUX Rental GmbH and the scaffolder can be pleased that they can still buy scaffolding material relatively cheaply. In the mixed calculation with what is already available in rental material, RUX Rental GmbH is not yet forced to turn the price screw or even introduce a manufacturer's surcharge. We base our rental prices on the list price of the manufacturer Scafom-rux, which is currently still at the 2018 level.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: In other words: Your short-term rental rates become more attractive in relation to the scaffolder's purchase prices?
Stephan Winterhoff: Yes, you could say that. Anyone who is betting on a sustained fall in raw material prices - and we all hope that this price trend will settle at a lower level than today in the foreseeable future - is exactly right with us in terms of renting scaffolding material. However, buying materials still has its place these days. Consider the 80:20 rule. If the scaffolding is ever a little more expensive, the scaffolder may have to put it up one building project more often to pay it off than before. But the long-lasting scaffolding can easily cope with that.
DER GERÜSTBAUER: Thank you for the interview.
(Source: DER GERÜSTBAUER 04.2021)
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