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Concrete Contractors: Buying vs. Renting Tools and Heavy Equipment

The construction industry is constantly evolving, and concrete contractors are always looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve. One key aspect of their business that they often focus on is the equipment and tools they use and examining if they should rent or purchase.

June 16, 2023

4 Min Read
Concrete Heavy Equipment
Adobe Stock/Ekkasit A Siam

The concrete industry is known for its reliance on heavy equipment and tools, and contractors are constantly looking for the latest and greatest products to improve their efficiency and productivity. Contractors are recognizing the importance of utilizing state-of-the-art machinery and tools to stay competitive in the market. In a recent concrete contractor buyer study conducted by World of Concrete and The Farnsworth Group, 50% of concrete firms indicated they would likely purchase electric tools, equipment or vehicles in the coming year.

For several reasons, contractors may opt to purchase new equipment and tools. Firstly, new equipment and tools often come with advanced features and technologies that can enhance productivity. For example, advanced GPS systems in heavy equipment can improve accuracy and save time on-site. Additionally, new equipment and tools are often more energy-efficient, reducing operating costs and minimizing environmental impact. Contractors are also attracted to the reliability and durability of new equipment and tools, which can help reduce downtime and increase overall project efficiency.

Factors influencing equipment and tool purchasing decisions

When it comes to purchasing new equipment and tools, contractors consider various factors before making their decision. One of the most valuable types of content contractors consider when educating themselves on a new brand’s tools or equipment is colleague recommendations. Peers hold considerable influence over brand and product purchasing, with 32% of concrete professionals surveyed indicating they provide valuable content when researching. Additional key factors that motivate their intent to buy are:

  • Educational content related to the product

  • Cost vs. value analysis

  • How-to-use videos

Advantages and disadvantages of buying vs. renting tools and equipment

Purchasing new equipment and tools has its share of advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, owning new equipment and tools gives contractors complete control over their assets. Owning also provides the flexibility to use the equipment and tools whenever needed, without any restrictions or limitations.

However, there are also disadvantages to buying new equipment and tools. The initial cost can be a significant barrier for contractors, especially those with limited financial resources. Additionally, owning equipment and tools comes with ongoing maintenance and repair expenses, which can add up over time.

Renting equipment and tools is an alternative option for contractors who are hesitant to make a long-term investment. It offers several advantages, such as flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Contractors can rent equipment and tools for specific projects, saving them from the initial investment and ongoing maintenance costs associated with owning. Renting also provides access to a wide range of equipment and tools, allowing contractors to choose the most suitable ones for their projects.

However, there are also downsides to renting equipment and tools. Contractors may face limited availability, especially during peak construction seasons. Renting can also become expensive in the long run, as the costs add up over multiple projects. Ultimately, contractors must assess their specific needs and weigh the pros and cons of renting versus owning to make the best decision for their business.

According to the recent contractor buyer study, concrete firms appear to prefer purchasing new tools and equipment over renting. The study showed compressors are the item most likely to be rented, while power hammers and drills are the most expected to be purchased in the next 12 months.

Tools Rented/Purchased in the Last 12 Months

For heavy equipment, 68% of concrete contractors surveyed said they currently own or lease pickup trucks, with trailers for heavy equipment (42%) and skid steers/track/wheel (38%) being the next most used heavy equipment. In addition, heavy equipment such as concrete boom pumps and mini excavators are more likely to be rented, whereas pickup trucks are more likely to be purchased.

Heavy Equipment Renting vs. Buying

The trend of new equipment and tool purchases among contractors will likely continue in the construction industry. To remain competitive, contractors recognize the importance of staying up to date with the latest technology and equipment advancements.

While owning equipment and tools provides control and customization, renting and leasing offer flexibility and affordability. Contractors must carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option to determine the best fit for their business.

Interested in learning more about the latest concrete contractor purchasing trends? Download our Active Buyer Study today.

The study was conducted by research firm The Farnsworth Group via online surveys sent to World of Concrete and ConstructioNext (previously WOC360) Concrete & Masonry newsletter/website audience members from Informa Markets Construction.

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