Angie Venekamp, ECP-SM, general manager, Rental Network, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada, and American Rental Association (ARA) Region Ten director, says that construction rentals across the country are finishing 2023 relatively strong after a somewhat shaky start.
“Construction segments saw a bit of a slowdown earlier this year, enough to where people were wondering what was going on. But once summer was over, they started to recoup and hit the ground running again,” she says.
At the same time, some major economic factors that are impacting commercial and residential construction — and having ripple effects in the rental world — are being felt in Canada heading into 2024. “Activity has plateaued a little bit with the rising interest rates,” Venekamp says. “New builds have slowed down. Even renovations have slowed down and some projects that were slated to start this year have held off a little bit. Everyone is waiting to see how the interest rates go, so a lot of that slowdown is tied to the higher interest rates and people being hesitant to borrow. Combined with rising material costs, there is a lot of uncertainty out there.”
Alongside building materials, equipment prices are rising but that is proving to be something of a boon for rental operations. “We’ve seen more people leaning towards renting instead of buying new equipment right now, so that’s been a big plus for heavy equipment, and general tool has been along the same lines,” Venekamp says.
2024 also is likely to see a continuation of what Venekamp sees as a twofold phenomenon related to the diminishing labor force. “More automation in equipment is enabling staff to do the work that might have needed two people before, so there is potential with that. But there is still a lack of skilled workers that is hindering business growth,” she says.
In the event rental sector, Venekamp says business “seems to have done rather well. More people are getting back into their corporate travel and hosting those events that they’ve been holding off for the last several years. Everyone I have talked to said the event segment has had a spectacular year.”