Bottom Line Equipment

HURRICANE CHANGES RENTAL COMPANY’S FOCUS, CUSTOMER SERVICE FUELS ITS MASSIVE GROWTH

Sep 20, 2013

Offering quality equipment is Bottom Line’s priority

When Kurt Degueyter talks about the evolution of Bottom Line Equipment, he describes it as coming in waves. The first was founding the business in July 2005 with a couple of machines, working from his home in Lafayette, La.

“My background included more than 20 years in an equipment dealership in several positions, mostly working with rentals,” said Degueyter, sole owner of Bottom Line. “I wanted to go into business for myself, and the original intent was to buy and sell used equipment. My wife, Kim, and I set up shop, and she handled the financial side and I worked on obtaining customers.”

Within months of opening, the equipment and customer lists grew quickly and the focus shifted toward rental, due in large part to Hurricane Katrina’s direct hit on New Orleans. It also led to the opening of Bottom Line Equipment’s first service yard.

“As Katrina was approaching and as it hit, I was on the phone looking for additional equipment, especially attachments, to purchase, knowing it would be needed in New Orleans,” said Degueyter. “My experience told me there would be waves of work coming in the wake of the hurricane. The first was debris removal, followed by demolition of damaged structures, then rebuilding of the levee system. Each wave involved different types of machines and attachments and even customers, so I continually built up my fleet of equipment and attachments to match the needs of our customers.”

Opened Baytown in December

To stage the initial wave of equipment and attachments, Degueyter opened his first service yard location on a piece of property he found in Saint Rose, La. That location is now the company’s headquarters and is one of three Bottom Line Equipment locations, including Sulphur, La., and the newest, in Baytown, Texas, which opened in December 2012.

“As work began winding down in New Orleans, it became important to branch out and deploy our assets to other uses,” noted Degueyter. “In 2010, we focused on heavy civil applications, and within the past couple of years, we’ve begun to service the oil and gas industries in the Gulf South, including Texas. As our geographic presence expanded, it became necessary to open new locations in close proximity in order to best serve our customers.”

From its three locations, Bottom Line offers a fleet of more than 500 machines and specialty attachments. Equipment mainly stays within Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, but the company ships attachments across the United States. Rentals are available on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

“We’re not a typical rental house that carries a bit of everything, such as generators, saws and small compactors,” said Degueyter, adding that equipment is not dedicated to one location, so it’s available anywhere Bottom Line serves. “We do have a few small utility machines and a few larger pieces up to the 100,000-pound size class, but the vast majority of our fleet is mid-size to heavy construction equipment and attachments such as hammers, shears, breakers, augers and plate compactors, along with various sizes of buckets. We cater to customers looking for those types of combinations.

“We also work with customers beyond the machine rental,” he added. “For example, if they want it, we offer preproject and safety planning, as well as other services. On large projects where a customer rents multiple machines, we’ll set up dedicated service on site, including drop boxes for parts.”

Komatsu a major part of excavator fleet

Bottom Line Equipment’s excavator fleet includes more than 70 Komatsus, ranging in size from 31,000-pound-plus PC138s to 68,234-pound PC290LC-10s. The company recently purchased 13 PC210LC-10 and 10 PC290LC-10 models from WPI’s Houston branch with the help of Territory Manager Rusty May. All are equipped with factory-installed auxiliary hydraulics to run attachments, and the PC290s are set up with 60-foot long fronts.

“Komatsu excavators fit well into our philosophy, which is providing machines that deliver the most productive and profitable experience possible, and that’s why we invest heavily in them,” said Degueyter. “Komatsus have great hydraulic power, and when you’re running attachments, that’s essential. At the same time, they’re efficient on fuel usage. That combination of power, productivity and fuel efficiency increases the customer’s bottom line, which is what it’s all about.”

Bottom Line Equipment works closely with customers to help them best use their equipment. One way it does that is by using KOMTRAX, Komatsu’s remote machine-monitoring system. Bottom Line tracks the excavators and generates reports that show hours, location, idle time and other critical data. The company then goes over reports with customers.

“Our experience is that KOMTRAX is a game-changer in terms of fleet management,” said Degueyter. “It benefits both us and the customer. They appreciate the reports because they can use them to adjust operating practices for cost savings, and we can use it to track location and hours for accurate billing purposes. It also helps ensure services are done on time, which is something we’re very proactive about.”

Bottom Line handles service itself with parts from WPI, often ordered online through Komatsu’s eParts. “WPI’s parts availability is another reason why we’ve partnered with them, in addition to the other aspects of quality service it provides. When we came to Texas, we looked at several dealers. WPI stood out in all aspects: machine availability, financing, service. Rusty has been terrific to work with during all aspects of the purchasing process, and he remains active in ensuring our continued satisfaction. We’re very pleased with what WPI offers.”

One of nation’s fastest-growing businesses

In addition to stringent service practices, Bottom Line Equipment takes great strides to ensure its machinery stays in proper working order. The company thoroughly inspects machinery before, during and after a rental. It also takes pride in offering a late-model fleet with low hours.

“People tell us we could make more money by reducing the time we take in inspecting machinery, cleaning it and detailing it every time it comes in off rent,” said Degueyter. “We believe that’s shortsighted, because sending out a machine that’s prone to breakdown or looks bad would be a negative reflection on us. It could damage our reputation and ultimately cost us customers.

“We also begin evaluating machines for replacement at about 2,500 hours and usually transition machines out of the fleet at between 3,000 and 4,000 hours, depending on its usage and applications,” he added. “Because we’re known for taking care of equipment, auction companies often ask us to leave our logo on a machine. They know the Bottom Line logo means a quality pre-owned product.”

Continuing to offer quality equipment is Degueyter’s top priority and that of his staff of about 50 employees. That focus led to recognition of Bottom Line Equipment as the fastest-growing business in New Orleans in 2012, according to the New Orleans City Business. It was third in 2011. The past five years running, Inc. magazine has also named the company as one of the nation’s 5,000 fastest-growing privately held companies.

“Rewards and recognition are great, and it shows that our commitment to quality products and service pays off, but what’s more important to us is that customers view us as their go-to rental company,” said Degueyter. “The large amount of repeat business we do proves that’s the case. They know we care about them and their success. We’re active in the same organizations they are, such as the Houston Contractors Association, AGC, ABC, the National Demolition Association and others.

“While we’ve seen tremendous growth during the past eight years, that’s not necessarily a critical component to the business,” Degueyter added. “Our growth has largely been market- and customer-driven. Potential customers often see our equipment on a jobsite and ask about us. We believe that’s the best way to build, along with continuing to develop a reputation for having the best equipment and service in the business.”

For information on renting from Bottom Line Equipment, call 877-332-7187 or visit its Web site at www.bottomlineequipment.com.