Trust is Vital when Buying Aerial Equipment
Aerial equipment is one of the most highly regulated segments in the construction industry. These regulations are in place because unlike other construction equipment, aerial equipment is lifting people and heavy material several feet into the air. If something goes wrong with a machine, it could have life-threatening consequences. It’s vital that you make sure the machine you’re buying is in good working order, which is why who you buy from is important.
Buying used equipment at auction is how many contractors shop for used equipment. Often fueled by the adrenaline rush of winning, auction goers believe they are going to get a better price on a used machine than if they were to buy a similar model at a dealership. However, when fees, travel expenses and hauling costs are all added up, there is typically very little difference in cost. In addition, buyers at auction may be the winner of a unit that could be a constant source of issues down the road.
“There are a lot of rental companies that use auctions for de-fleeting their older models,” says Rick Trout, a Director for the Independent Equipment Dealers Association (IEDA) and owner of Trout Machinery in Casper, Wyoming. “Some of those units are in good working order, while many others will have issues that need to be addressed. All of that is normal for used machines; however, auction goers must decide sight unseen or with very little information whether an AWP or a crane is in proper working order and safe for them to buy and operate. So, unless the buyer is bringing a mechanic who will have a chance to do a thorough inspection before bidding on a machine, there is a lot of risk involved.”
Trout says those same risks are involved with buying from some dealerships, but because the bid process is removed, there isn’t the same sense of urgency for a buyer to decide on the spot. “Buying aerial equipment shouldn’t be a knee jerk reaction,” Trout says. “Most aerial product categories require the owner to perform an annual inspection. The buyer needs to make sure the seller has all of those requirements met and then decide if he trusts the inspection report and the dealer”
Trout Machinery, along with other members of the IEDA, ask a representative from the OEM or a respected third party to perform the inspection. “When the seller performs inspections, there can be a bit of a conflict of interest,” says Trout. “Having someone else do it gives customers better assurance that the machine they are about to buy has been properly evaluated.”
You may have to pay a little more when you buy from reputable used equipment dealers, but the extra level of service and piece-of-mind is worth it. These dealers will take the time to make all necessary repairs or provide you with details about any potential issues that must address down-the-road.
Who to trust
Keep in mind, not all used dealers are going to have your best interests in mind. In addition to asking them equipment related questions, be sure to vet their company. You want to make sure they will work with you after the sale if there are any unforeseen issues with your purchase. A good way to do that is by asking for a list of customer references and how they have handled disputes in the past. If they are members of the IEDA, they have committed to the used equipment industries highest standards, which includes fair and swift arbitration process in the event of a disagreement between a buyer and dealership.
Buying used equipment is an excellent way to maximize your return on equipment investment, and buying from a vetted dealer is a great option when you want high quality, properly inspected and certified aerial equipment.
Note: A version of this article was first published by Lift & Access in print and online.