No tools on hand? Try renting


POSTED: Friday, April 03, 2009

It's good to know the pulse points of your community—the closest police station, for instance, and fire station, hospital, church, grocery store ...

And tool rental shop. Because a tile chipper is not the sort of thing your average neighbor would have handy; and you just might need one someday—no matter your gender.

As manager of Hawaiian Rent-All, a shop that rents tools as well as party supplies and more, Raynard Hasegawa is accustomed to informing walk-ins about the value of renting versus purchasing tools. What the store stocks is high-quality commercial tools.

“;They come in needing a tool, talk to us, leave to do the research, find it costs the same or more to buy one that's of lesser quality that they'll probably only use once,”; said Hasegawa, “;and they come back.”;

Store owner Paul Gibfried explains it's more cost-effective in the long run if you don't plan on using the tool often. Rental facilities maintain equipment so it's always ready to use. “;If it sits in storage and it's got an engine or carburetor, it has to be kept up and oiled, or it rusts and you end up having to buy a new one next time you actually need to use it.”; Plus, he said, it eats up valuable storage space in the garage.

“;We get a lot of do-it-yourselfers, but we also get contractors who, let's say, already have five chain saws but for a particular job needs a sixth for a day, so it doesn't make sense to add another to his inventory for just a day of work.”;

Renting a tool involves paying for the time it's used, putting a deposit down with a credit card or check and signing a contract to release the shop of liability for personal injury or damage to the tool—similar to renting a car.

“;We had someone who rented a $2,500 polisher and broke the base,”; Gibfried said. “;All he had to do was pay $300-plus for the part… He came back to exchange the tool and could continue his work. So he still came out ahead since he didn't have to pay $2,500 to buy a tool for that one job.”;

On the corner of Beretania and McCully streets, Hawaiian Rent-All at 1946 S. Bereta- nia St. draws customers from all over the island. “;We have regulars who live in Waimanalo,”; Hasegawa said. “;If they know we have the tool, they'll come.”;

For those who don't live on the east side, FKS Rentals & Sales in Mapunapuna and Home Depot in Kapolei might be more convenient.

“;If we don't have what they need, we'll refer them”; to the other shops, said Wilfred Kato, rental manager of FKS. “;Main thing is the customer gets what they need.”;

Kato finds that his DIY patrons are equally men and women, but many female customers will rent smaller electrical hand tools. “;Women who come here tend to rent chipping guns or hammers if they are renovating something like a bathroom. They use it to remove tile.”;

More popular items in general? “;A lot of stuff to do with concrete ... mixers, concrete vibrators, compressors, demolition equipment ... During heavy rains we get a lot of requests for de-watering equipment like trash and submersible pumps to (siphon) water.”;

FKS, located at 663 Kakoi St., caters to the construction trade and therefore keeps similar hours, 7 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. weekdays, “;but we've been considering adding Saturday hours,”; said Kato.

At the Kapolei Home Depot, Aaron Adams, manager of the tool rental department, finds himself doling out tools used for concrete placement, as well as lawn-and-garden equipment such as soil tillers, and carpet shampooers and cleaners. “;We don't have Bobcats and backhoes, but we do carry smaller items like mud drills, auging drills and concrete mixers.”;

The Kapolei branch is the only Home Depot on Oahu with a tool rental center. Many factors determine whether a branch can offer the service, from square footage to city restrictions and outside storage availability, said Home Depot spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher. The company is considering opening another tool rental center on Oahu.

Adams said, “;We get an equal amount of men and women renting the same things. ... In fact, a lot of women come in, and I'm surprised at the work they do themselves. ... Their husbands are (deployed)—we get a lot of military who live on this side—so the wives will take on a lot of projects.”;

Not everything involves construction or remodeling projects. Hawaiian Rent-All also offers floor scrubbers and buffers, carpet cleaners, drain snakes, plus tillers and stump grinders for yardwork. “;And of course party equipment,”; like warming trays and big pots, Hasegawa said. He has regulars who come in yearly for floor buffers and polish for their wooden floors.

During last year's day-after-Christmas blackout, demand was high for generators, he said. “;We took a waiting list and gave the person an hour to pick up the machine, and if they didn't show, it went to the next person on the list.”; The new hold system had just been put in place—just in time, as it turns out.

“;In heavy rains, lots of people find out their roof's faulty. That's when our wet/dry vacs and carpet cleaners and dehumidifiers go fast. ... Every rainy season, different people come in—the others have already fixed their roof problem.”;

Gibfried just added a miniature excavator to his inventory. It's yours for a day for $250 and a $500 deposit, versus about $27,000 to buy one. “;It's popular. You have to weigh the job and the cost of labor to hire men to dig up the dirt and the time you have to do the project. Sometimes it's cheaper and faster to have one man on an excavator than hire several for a day to dig.”;

Another popular item is scaffolding, which customers use for painting houses or cleaning windows.

The most peculiar item rented recently? A double-handled handsaw for someone who needed to cut down a tree. “;Paul and I were scratching our heads about that one,”; Hasegawa said. “;We asked the customer, 'Why would you want to rent that—you'll need two people to use it—when you could rent a chain saw?'”;

Turns out, Hasegawa said, the customer was trying to be considerate. “;He didn't want to bother his neighbors with the noise.”;