“In Northern California, construction is up... and our agriculture economy is looking strong,” notes Brent Skousen. “The green rush, growing commercial marijuana, has helped, too. We’ve been renting heavy construction equipment to help clear fields."
For Brent Skousen, owner of Twin Cities Equipment Rentals in Yuba City, last year was a good year and he anticipates the same for this year. “In Northern California, construction is up, the homeowner market is healthy, and our agriculture economy is looking strong,” he notes. “The green rush, growing commercial marijuana, has helped, too. We’ve been renting heavy construction equipment to help clear fields and trenchers to install irrigation systems.”
Renting to “weed” growers was certainly something Skousen didn’t anticipate when he purchased the general rental store in 1991, but the owner knows in this industry you go where the market takes you. “We rent primarily to homeowners, smaller contractors, and people in the ag business. We have our niche and don’t compete with the big national companies in the larger industrial markets,” he adds.
His store employs 14 people, many of whom came to him for their first real job. Skousen admits it’s getting more difficult to find good people who are motivated, but he also takes the challenge personally.
“A big part of what I like to do is motivate young kids, to teach them a good work ethic and literally grow them from the ground up to be good, solid employees. We may start them out by cleaning up in the shop and learning equipment and then moving them along to get a commercial driver’s license, so they can deliver rentals. Eventually, they may even work behind the counter. They may leave after four or five years, but not without the tools and work ethic to help them be successful.”
That’s not to say all his employees are just entering the job market. One of his veterans, who had worked with the store’s previous owner, has been on the job 34 years. “You hear it time and again, but it’s true,” he emphasizes, “You have to treat your employees well. Pay them a good wage, treat them with respect, offer training, and give them time off when they need it.”
Among more immediate challenges, he cites ongoing government regulations and technological advances, especially as they relate to diagnosing and repairing equipment, as two pressing ones. “It is becoming costly to repair the computer-controlled equipment, says Skousen. “The software is expensive, and it’s ever-changing to stay in compliance with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).”
There is a silver lining in the technology challenge. This owner has a tech-savvy son who keeps his computers up and running. In the meantime, it’s full speed ahead taking advantage of a market that’s “growing” in more ways than one.