Industry veteran Mike Disser reveals what he sees as the keys to success in rental

RMC Consults LLC is built on 45 years of experience in all aspects of the construction equipment rental industry, including extensive experience in mergers and acquisitions. Recently joining founder Mike Crouch is Mike Disser, who brings a rich industry background to provide advisory services and who recently shared with us his views on what it takes to succeed in the industry.

We at Rental Briefing met Mike Disser some 25 years ago, when the rental industry was a very different animal than it is today. In those days, the internet was the latest driving force, rental as a means of equipment acquisition was still a tough sell for some in construction, and United Rentals was the new kid on the block. 

A lot has changed in the last couple of decades - buzz words like digitalization and sustainability were unheard of, while consolidation was already happening but in a wildly different iteration than we’re seeing today.

To get some perspective on where things are headed for the equipment rental industry and what it might take to succeed in it going forward, we asked Disser to share his views with us. Following is an excerpt from that discussion.

Rental Briefing: What is your history in the rental industry?
Mike Disser recently joined RMC Consults LLC.

Disser: I started working in the equipment rental industry back in 1996 with a small to mid-size general rental company, Albany Ladder, located throughout the state of New York. The company was soon to be acquired by National Equipment Services, which later became NES Rentals.

I became the vice president of sales and marketing in 1999, and we went on to acquire over 40 companies by the end of 2001. From private investment, going public for a short term, and then back to private again, NES Rentals was acquired by United Rentals in May 2017.

I then consulted and worked with various rental industry-related businesses until 2022. I most recently worked as vice president of sales for Cross Country Infrastructure Services, who rents large construction equipment and supplies to oil and gas industry contractors. I helped prepare and divest the company’s pump division to a private equity-backed specialty pump business in 2023.

Rental Briefing: What is your current role and your personal goals for it?

Disser: I recently joined forces with Mike Crouch and RMC Consults LLC to help expand its M&A advisory services. I will be providing consulting services including strategic advisory, value creation and business transaction opportunities for our rental industry partners.

My personal goal is to use the experience I’ve gained in a 20-year career, including acquisitions and divestitures of various rental businesses and networking with many talented individuals, to help rental business owners transition to the next phase in their lives, and investors to find relevant businesses that fit their portfolios.

Rental Briefing: What do you see as the most critical issues facing rental businesses today?

Disser: Beyond the host of operational, financial and HR issues rental businesses face each day, two words come to mind: clarity and adaptability. It starts with a solid business plan that spells out precisely who or what the company is and does, how it does its business and with whom. And make sure to share this purpose with your entire team. Find your niche or what differentiates you from your competition and refine it over time. There has always been the temptation to be “all things to all people.” Having clarity of purpose can focus you enough to get really good at what you do and keep you on track.

Then, adaptability is pivotal for a continuous improvement process. Are you stuck in the same old way of doing things? Have you asked your customers about what you do well or need improvement on? Have you embraced the latest technologies that can provide increased efficiencies for your business? Have you made adjustments to the way you hire, coach and train people?

Being able to discern and implement the necessary changes to improve your business can often be missed. Be objective and get outside help if needed. As you make changes, there may come a point in time that you need to rewrite your business plan as you expand and grow.

Rental Briefing: What is driving the current climate of consolidation within the market? Where do you see it headed?

Disser: Consolidation of the equipment rental industry has been going on for decades, now with transactions happening on a monthly basis. For the strategics, like United Rentals, Sunbelt Rentals, HERC Rentals and others, there has been a distinct shift from geographic acquisitions to a more strategic one, such as specialty rental businesses, to augment their current offerings.

They have most geographic areas covered, so now their sights are set on new businesses. I believe this trend will continue as new rental business opportunities are realized. Recent acquisitions of a construction matting company or movie production lighting and grips are examples of these new rental businesses. I recently read where we might actually be renting our clothes in the future. The rental industry is the original sharing economy and we are only limited by our own perceptions and complacencies about what is possible.

It has been a little different for private equity firms who have been acquiring rental businesses in order to consolidate and re-engineer in order to improve their return on investment. With interest rates moving higher, it has become a little more difficult to achieve their ROI goals. However, there are record amounts of money on the side lines waiting for the right investments.

PE firms must look beyond their traditional financial engineering levers of add-ons, financial management, financial leverage, and operational cost control. Instead, they need to lean into and improve their operations and systems to drive organic revenue growth.

Bottom line: Consolidation is here to stay.

Rental Briefing: What do rental companies need to do to succeed today? 

Disser: Equipment rental companies must employ various strategies to stay successful in today’s market. Here are a few:

  • Diverse equipment inventory: Offering a wide range of equipment options to cater to different industries and customers’ needs.
  • Online presence and booking: Providing easy-to-use online and mobile platforms for renting equipment, allowing customers to browse inventory, check availability, run reports and make reservations conveniently.
  • Customer service: Providing exceptional customer service and support, including timely responses to inquiries, assistance with equipment selection, and troubleshooting during rentals.
  • Maintenance, safety and quality assurance: Ensuring that all equipment is well-maintained, regularly serviced, and meets safety standards to minimize downtime and maximize customer
    Construction equipment Disser says adaptability is pivotal for a continuous improvement process. (Photo: Adobe stock)
    satisfaction and compliance.
  • Flexibility in rental terms: Offering flexible rental terms, such as short-term and long-term rentals, with options for delivery and pickup to accommodate various project requirements.
  • Competitive pricing: Implementing competitive and data-driven pricing strategies to attract customers while still ensuring profitability.
  • Technology integration: Incorporating technology such as GPS tracking and telematics to monitor equipment usage, location, and maintenance needs efficiently.
  • Market analysis and forecasting: Conducting market analysis and forecasting to anticipate demand trends and adjust inventory accordingly to meet customer needs.
  • Partnerships and networking: Building partnerships with construction & industrial companies, event planners, specialty contractors, and other businesses to expand their customer base and reach.
  • Sustainability initiatives: Implementing environmentally friendly practices, such as offering energy-efficient equipment options or recycling programs, to appeal to eco-conscious customers and align with corporate social responsibility goals.

Editor’s note: Please stay tuned for the second installment to our interview with Mike Disser, where he will provide advice and insight specific to smaller, independent rental businesses. 


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Euan Youdale Editor Tel: +44 (0)1892 786 214 E-mail: [email protected]
Lindsey Anderson Editor Tel: +1 312 929 4409 E-mail: [email protected]
Tony Radke Sales Manager Tel: +1 480 478 6302 E-mail: [email protected]
Ollie Hodges Sales Manager Tel: +44 (0)1892 786253 E-mail: [email protected]