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Entrepreneurship, niche rentals, family-owned ethos propel B.E.R.

By Brock Huffstutler

April 19, 2024

Entrepreneurship runs in the Boland family. It’s what established their equipment rental company, Boland Equipment Rental (B.E.R.) not once, but twice.

Meghan Boland serves as president of B.E.R. and is member of the ARA of New Jersey board of directors. Her father, Brian, started the company in 2001, but Meghan says it was not his first go-around with the B.E.R. brand.

“He had a former company, Boland Equipment Rentals, in the 90s, which sold to United Rentals in 1998,” Boland says. “He took a few years off and then started B.E.R., which primarily operated on the West Coast doing underbridge trucks for a while. After evolving in a few different ways over a long period of time, we ended up back in New Jersey under our current structure.”

A B.E.R. bucket truck on a bridge work site

Following the twists and turns that led the enterprise from coast to coast, B.E.R. landed it in its current base of operations in Hackensack, N.J., where it serves a niche clientele.

“We’re kind of a niche within what ARA (American Rental Association) companies typically offer,” Boland says. “We have scissor lifts, boom lifts and telehandlers, but we also carry bucket trucks, underbridge trucks, power rail trucks, and we provide traffic control to roadway closures for companies. I like to say that we service three different customer segments: government for infrastructure support; industry — electrical companies, flag companies, sign companies; and construction.”

The company sits at the intersection of many business opportunities.

“We’re right outside New York City by the George Washington Bridge. So, we can easily serve New York City, New York State, and all of New Jersey. We even do a little bit of Pennsylvania and Connecticut,” Boland says.

The Boland family’s business acumen goes back even farther than B.E.R.

“My grandfather was an entrepreneur himself. He owned a lot of different companies — a sign company, a crane company, and a pool company at one point. So, growing up, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, not really knowing what that meant,” Boland says.

Meghan Boland got hands-on with equipment as a child (with help from dad, Brian)

Following a stint at Tulane University in New Orleans, Boland initially pursued a career in the fashion industry. Then the lure of independently-owned business drew her back to the family’s rental company.

“I worked at Michael Kors, Gap, and other companies, and I did love it,” she says. “Then in 2019, my dad was looking to exit the rental business and gave me one last, ‘Do you want to take over?’ I made the switch in April 2019, and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Today, B.E.R. operates out of an office and shop with a 1- to 2-acre lot where approximately 35 employees oversee a fleet of the company’s signature bucket trucks and more.

“We’ve always been known for our bucket trucks because they’re pretty unique,” Boland says. “Beyond that, we rent booms and scissors all day.”

Training is also a priority at B.E.R.

Working at height with B.E.R. equipment

“I do a lot of training across the board,” Boland says. “Anytime we bring in a new piece of equipment, everyone in the company is out in the yard to see this new technology. Even down to the accountants — they’re charging someone for renting this, so they need to know what it is. Manufacturers come in and I’ll host training for our mechanics, train-the-trainers and certification trainings. We also host customers who want to get certified, whether it’s ANSI [American National Standards Institute] or a forklift training, we’ll host them. We have a classroom upstairs and we do hands-on training. Whether it’s onsite or if it’s for the underbridge truck, we take them to a bridge, close down the roadway and get them that training.”

Boland says that aside from her company’s niche equipment offerings and training expertise, its family-owned ambiance sets it apart from the pack of customers’ other rental options in the region. “We own that we’re a small, family-owned company,” she says.

A B.E.R. underbridge training exercise

Even as the company grows, B.E.R.’s small, family-owned ethos is paramount.

“When we’re going through the hiring process, we’re hiring for personalities that are going to fit into our office rather than experience,” Boland says. “99 percent of our hires did not come from the rental world. And when you call us, you’re getting someone on the phone, so we stand by our service and the quality of our equipment. In our company culture, everyone has a positive attitude. They want to work together as a team. We have fun, but we’re trying to get the job done to the best of everyone’s ability. I think customers notice that. They like stopping in even when they don’t necessarily have to. They’ll just come in and say hi. Some bring us food to the office, and everyone has a fun time with it.”

Boland figures that kind of culture will continue to propel B.E.R.

“Everyone in our company really wants to be here and part of a small family office,” she says. “They’ve been to the bigger corporate organizations where they feel they are a number, and it’s rewarding when they’re here. And everyone asks about not just the job getting done, but also about their family and what’s going on outside of work. And again, our customers see that. Even when we’re dealing with difficult situations, everyone has that positive attitude to get it done and get it fixed. I think that is what really sets us apart, no matter what.”

Networking, RentalU highlight this rental owner’s value in ARA membership

Meghan Boland

Meghan Boland

What does Meghan Boland, president of Boland Equipment Rental (B.E.R.), Hackensack, N.J., value about her company’s membership in the American Rental Association (ARA)?

“Definitely the networking,” she says.

In the past year, Boland has become part of the ARA of New Jersey board of directors and ARA’s Equipment Rental Shared Interest Group (SIG). She also is a member of ARA’s Young Professional Network.

“In the last year I’ve met a lot of great people through the organization, whether it’s at the SIG meeting or at The ARA Show™,” she says. “I’ve also joined peer groups, which I know isn’t directly ARA-related, but a lot of people who are in ARA are in peer groups. And we’ve been using RentalU recently.”

RentalU is ARA’s online education and training platform that offers members rental-specific education and training.

“As we’re expanding, we’ve brought on a lot of new hires, and I’ve been using the onboarding aspects of RentalU for that,” Boland says. “And we hosted the first ARA Certified Forklift Training hands-on event at our facility.”