Talking Shop… Owners of Indian Peaks Rental
December 26, 2013
Indian Peaks Rental, Highway 40 and CR 85/87 intersection, Tabernash
How long have you been in business? 8.5 years
How did you get started in this business? In the early spring of 2005, Mike Leiser approached his ski-school buddy, Mike Giesie about a business idea. It wasn't a new business but rather a rebirth, as Leiser has been in the industry since he was a 10 years old. It had been 5 years since he had sold his tool and equipment rental store, Indian Peaks Rent-all, to Wagner Rents in Granby, and Leiser was ready to open up shop again. He knew Giesie's background in excavation, construction, big-rig truck driving, as well as his experience with managing employees and thought with their combined experience, a rental store would have a great chance of being successful. Giesie, who had been contemplating business ideas with Becca, agreed this type of rental store was definitely needed in the community. She pulled together a business plan while wrapping up her software consulting job. With the help from his buddy, Mark Ellis, Giesie built the first building of the current Indian Peaks Rental on Giesie's property at County Road 85 and U.S. Highway 40. Becca purchased the computer software and hardware and started inventorying the tools and equipment that Leiser purchased from a rental store that was closing in Pueblo.
Business mission statement: To serve the remodeling, building and property maintenance equipment needs of Homeowners, Contractors, and Businesses in Grand County with safe and modern tools and equipment.
Success in the mission: Through our disciplined growth strategy, we have been fairly successful
Challenges to the mission: Managing growth and debt, while keeping a modern fleet of equipment
How do you cope with Grand County's seasonal surges? The equipment rental business requires a lot of maintenance and refurbishing so we focus on that in the winter months, plus we adapt as best we can with products needed for the slower times. Longer hours and being prepared for the surges allows us to "make hay while the sun shines."
What do you think is the biggest business barrier in Grand County? The weather, the fluctuation in the population, not having all the necessary business resources close by and being able to attract and retain employees.
What do you think is your biggest business barrier on a state and/or national level? Truly affordable health care for ourselves and our employees. Too many regulatory agencies that do not seem to be fiscally accountable.
What can government here do to help? We are a county that thrives on year-round recreation, tourism, and second homeowner market. It would be great to see the county and all the towns embrace this as part of their missions. Grand County government could probably help with this as it has proven to be fiscally conservative while being socially liberal. If there was a way that they could encompass their ways and means to the other entities and businesses in the county, we would all benefit. While we are generally against more regulation, maybe mandatory recycling, and mandatory bear-proof trash cans would be something specific the towns or the county can do to improve Grand County.
How does your business give back to the community? We donate selectively as we can. Also through our partnership agreement, we are able to let Mike Leiser spend a large amount of his time volunteering for Grand County Search and Rescue. We try to use our experience to give advice to anyone who asks — whether they are our customer or not.
Give examples of how you are environmentally responsible: In our third year in business, we started doing our part for clean water in Grand County by investing in a waste-water recycling system and closed looped wash system. We also recycle all our scrap metal, cardboard and fuels. We have made and will continue to make a significant investment in Tier4 equipment. This equipment reduces Diesel particulates and other pollutants. It is not required in Colorado, but the industry is headed this way, and we are trying to be proactive.
How do you support other local businesses? We buy locally as much as possible and we refer our customers and contacts to local businesses when we think it will benefit them.
How do you feel about direct competition? Even though it may appear that we have no direct competition, we keep our rates fair and we work hard to ensure that we have safe, reliable equipment that is available in a timely manner. We back that up by asking questions and making suggestions to our customers so that they can benefit from our experience.
How do you market yourself? Most of our marketing is word of mouth and our location. We also have a website, indianpeaksrental.com, which is currently being redone by a local business.
What's the main thing you have you learned in your years in business? That both internal and external customers are our biggest assets. And if we have not helped the customer solve his or her problem, we have not done our job.
Where do you go for help when you need it? We turn to our local accountant, lawyer, contractors, and businesses. In addition, we turn to Mike Leiser's family and their long-time rental business experience. We also have a very strong national association. They provide their members a lot of valuable information and training.
Who is your biggest business influence/mentor? The hundreds of people we have listened to over the years
What do you think is the most significant economic driver in Grand County? There are several that are significant: Tourism, recreation, the second-home market, the mill, and possibly forestry management.
If you could go back in time and start up your business venture all over again, what would you do differently? Have a bigger location.
What's the best compliment you received from a client/customer/guest? "Thank you for training me and keeping me safe from harm's way"
What do you consider to be your biggest mistake in business? Being unable to retain former employee because we haven't been able to provide retention packages
What organization(s) is (are) most useful to business owners? Ours is our national association – American Rental Association
How much of a role does technology play in your business? Technology in our business is mostly related to counter and back office operations. We also use the internet a lot to research maintenance issues. We are doing our best to constantly adapt.
What are the technology challenges in your business? Just keeping up with it is a huge challenge! Trying to find the time to devote to social media and keeping the website up-to-date is difficult.
What's the general key to making a customer happy? Training; making sure they have the right tool for the job and they know how to use it. In addition, fair pricing and our loyalty to them.
Is their any certain trend you've noticed in consumer habits lately? People are very cost-conscious.
What are some tricks such as signs or window displays that you've noticed work in attracting customers to your front door? The only thing we do is line up our equipment along the fence line so it is visible from Highway 40
What are some ways to keep up staff morale? Treat them with respect and tell them when they have done something well. We also allow them time off for their pursuits, as we understand why people live here.
What are some ways you train your staff on an ongoing basis? Every day is a learning experience for all of us here at Indian Peaks Rental. Whenever a training opportunity arises, like a class provided by one of our suppliers or the association, we will make arrangements for the staff to attend. We also teach them to operate and demonstrate equipment.
If you could give advice to a novice entrepreneur, what would it be? Always remember who you are and why you chose to do what you are doing. Do thorough research, make a well thought-out business plan and share it with trusted advisors. Listen to their advice. When the plan stands up to scrutiny, follow it.
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