Customers in Action



October 27, 2015

PacWest supplies customers with reliable Komatsu machines


About eight years ago, the Phoenix area was in the beginning stages of one of the worst economic climates in decades. Despite the dire circumstances, Jim Maetzold returned to the Valley with a plan to open his own heavy equipment rental company.

“The business plan was to survive through the hard times and put the business in a position to prosper once things turned around,” said Maetzold, who founded PacWest Heavy Construction Equipment Rentals and Sales in 2008. “The execution went well, and now we’re thriving.”

Maetzold didn’t start from scratch. He left Phoenix several years earlier for Colorado to start and build a rental business for someone else. That company allowed him ownership in specific machines, so when he returned and founded PacWest, he already had a core fleet on which to build.

“Those units were working in other states, and I transitioned them into the Valley,” he said. “We’ve continued to grow from there. PacWest now has more than 100 units focused on meeting the needs of environmental and urban earthmoving customers. Our core client group tends to be utility and grading contractors, and we consider ourselves a one-stop shop for their needs.”

PacWest’s niche is bare rentals of medium-size grading and compaction equipment, according to Maetzold. The company also carries lube and fuel trucks, as well as water and mechanic’s trucks. It does not carry ancillary items or equipment such as aerial lifts or smaller items such as jackhammers and saws.

PacWest is headquartered in Mesa and has an administrative office in Carefree. The two locations provide excellent coverage throughout the Phoenix area; however, the company does rent throughout Arizona. It also has strategic partnerships that allow equipment rentals in other states, such as California and Texas. Rentals are typically monthly or weekly.

Building strong relationships


Maetzold is the sole owner of the company, but relies heavily on a management team that includes Vice President of Operations Peter Osborne, Rental Manager Jean Kasitch, Controller Ken Bright, Fleet and Service Director Ken Glaze and Director of Administration Tania Maloney.

“We allow our employees the opportunity to invest in and have ownership of machines of their choice,” Maetzold explained. “It allows them to have some skin-in-the-game and accumulate some net worth through their particular machines. We all believe it’s important to have good equipment and properly maintain it. That allows us to keep operating costs low, and more importantly, put the equipment out in the field and working at reasonable rates.”

PacWest’s management team is part of a total staff of about 15 who focus closely on building relationships with customers, which in turn creates repeat business.

“Our mission is to provide the best service and equipment in the industry,” said Osborne. “Because we’re a small company focused toward a particular niche, we believe we achieve that. We offer flexible terms and rates, which isn’t always the case with big-box stores, and we believe that sets us apart. We also offer full service, including responding quickly to issues that may cause downtime, no matter the time of day or day of the week. Our customers know we care about their success, efficiency and profitability.”

Maetzold points to another staff member that he believes makes a difference: Rori The Tractor Dog. The West Highland terrier can often be found at his side and is the star of PacWest’s advertising. She even has her own website and a Facebook page. “Like us, she’s small, tenacious and scrappy. People often stop by just to meet her.”

Superintendent Rodney Dawson said his company, Arizona-based ASU, Inc., calls PacWest often to supplement the company’s fleet. “It makes sense to rent a piece of equipment rather than purchase it if we only need it for a short time. PacWest is excellent about having what we’re looking for and getting it to us quickly. I deal with PacWest because they have great service.”

Large Komatsu presence


A large percentage of PacWest Heavy Equipment Rentals and Sales’ fleet consists of Komatsu pieces, including Tier 4 models. The company works with Road Machinery, LLC Account Manager Paul Lull to acquire machines such as D65 dozers; excavators ranging from tight-tail-swing PC88MR and PC138-10 models to larger PC400s; HM350 articulated trucks; and WA380-7 wheel loaders. PacWest works with Product Support Representative Robin Lee for parts and service support.

“The company I worked for previously had several pieces of Komatsu equipment, so I was familiar with its reliability, performance and fuel economy,” recalled Maetzold. “The rental business is different from contractors. They’re looking for production; we’re concerned more with reliability. With Komatsu, I’m confident that a machine on rent for three months and 200 miles away will meet our customers’ needs without service issues. Customers often ask for Komatsu equipment specifically, which is a great testament to the productivity they got or are getting with a Komatsu rental.”

PacWest tracks hours, location, fuel usage and other items on its Komatsu machinery with KOMTRAX. The company does most of its own maintenance, but relies on Road Machinery for service on Tier 4 units under the Komatsu CARE program, and other machines as needed.

“All equipment experiences breakdowns, and dealer response is critical,” said Maetzold. “When I moved down here, I knew I would add Komatsu. I contacted Road Machinery and found them very easy to work with. Paul and Robin do a great job, and we’ve built a very solid relationship because they respond quickly if we call. When we need service, our service manager calls Robin and schedules it, and Road Machinery tracks the Tier 4 machines and calls us when a service is due. The fact that they cover routine service complimentary for the first three years or 2,000 hours under the Komatsu CARE program is added value.”

Shifting focus

PacWest is more than a rental house. The company also buys and sells equipment worldwide.

“In fact, when PacWest first started, our business was largely based on trading with the occasional rental,” said Kasitch. “During the past few years, it’s flipped. Rentals are now the bulk of our operations. That’s one thing I really enjoy about this type of work. Every day is different.”

Maetzold said he believes that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. “The economic uncertainty shifted attitudes toward renting more because customers aren’t making a long-term commitment to owning and maintaining a machine. That may swing back the other way, but right now it remains attractive to use a piece of equipment for a short period of time and return it.

“That bodes well for us, and we’re looking to expand,” he added. “I’d like to add another location within the next few months. We’re also investigating new markets. I don’t believe we’ll change our philosophy or grow in terms of the types of equipment we offer. We have our niche, and we serve it well.”