For the love of hardware
Tyler Burns has always had an affinity for earth-moving machinery. After talking with a friend who owned a rental business in another state, Burns decided it was time to work with the equipment he loved. He closed his landscaping business and opened Diamond Rock Rental & Equipment in Gentry, Ark., in May 2018.
“It’s something that’s always interested me. I’ve always liked the stuff, especially the earthmoving part. I guess you could say it was kind of Tonka trucks for adults. I remember when I growing up and my dad was doing land leveling, where you have a big farm tractor pulling dirt scrapers, or dirt bins, over rice fields. a love for that stuff,” says Burns, who is vice president of the Arkansas ARA.
Burns took a detour from that love when, at age 21, he opened a lawn and landscaping operation. “I’ve been in this industry for 15 years. I kept thinking in the middle of summer that I couldn’t do this forever. I needed something a little more stable and easier on me. That’s when I started having serious conversations with my friend who owns a rental business in Alabama. I told him about the business. It seemed to be going well for him, so I decided it was time for me to give it a try,” he says.
It was quite a leap for Burns, who had no experience in the rental industry before striking out on his own and opening a business that offers compact moving equipment, aerial work platforms, lawn and garden and a variety of general tools including scaffolders, compactors, concrete saws, grinders and others.
“I just jumped in and started cold. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I learned by trial and error. It was quite a learning curve. I’m still learning,” Burns says.
What helped him navigate this new terrain was the sound advice of his friend, his membership in the American Rental Association (ARA), his favorite insurance agent ARA Gates Goza and other rental operators ARA.
“I heard about ARA from my friend who works in the industry. He gave me a copy of rental management. He also uses ARA Insurance. That’s how I was introduced to him and I’ve loved everything since. It’s the only way to go if you’re going to be in this industry. I couldn’t imagine doing it without the help of ARA,” he says.
He became involved with the Arkansas ARA shortly after opening his operation. “I opened in May and that summer Chuck Stone, who is the associate director of the ARA of Arkansas board of directors, called me and said there was a vacancy. to the board of directors. He asked me if I would be interested in serving. I told him that I was still learning everything, but that I would be happy to help him. It was great, even though I feel like I have so little to offer since I’m brand new,” he says.
He has found tremendous benefits in being involved with ARA. “Everyone on the board has been great. I can make them bounce ideas. We hosted social gatherings before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit. It was nice to get together with other people who have been in the industry a lot longer than I have and get their perspective on things. I also attended the ARA leadership conference in 2019 which was great. There were a lot of people there with so much experience. And The ARA Show™, I loved that. It’s been a wonderful learning experience every time I’ve been there,” he says.
Part of that learning curve has been figuring out how best to deal with the obstacles that come up.
“Really, the biggest aspect for me has been the day-to-day challenges of running an equipment rental business,” Burns says. “For example,
I ran my own lawn care business and it had its challenges for sure, just like everyone else. But everything was on a schedule. Everyone left the workshop in the morning with a list of tasks to do that day and you just went through the list. When I open the doors to my hardware rental store, I have no idea what’s coming up for the day, and even when I have several deliveries scheduled, or repairs to be done, it changes frequently. throughout the day. So learning to constantly adapt, changing schedules, dealing with the public, overcoming the myriad of obstacles, big and small, that crop up every day, those have been my biggest challenges.
Even so, Burns knows his business fills a need in his community.
“I don’t have a lot of competition. We are in Gentry. Siloam Springs is five miles south of us, which is four to five times larger than Gentry. There were two rental facilities in Siloam Springs. One of them was just on small types of lawn and garden equipment and small contractor tools — concrete saws and that sort of thing. The same year we started, it sold out. The new owner was not interested in renting. He strictly does lawn and garden sales now. Another rental company had rented compact earthmoving equipment. He decided to retire about a year and a half after we opened. It was the luck of the draw. About 20 miles from me is Bentonville, the headquarters of Walmart. This stretch – Bentonville, Rogers and Fayetteville – all have the largest national rental companies. They’re far enough apart that they don’t really compete with me,” he says.
In addition to having a local edge, what sets Burns’ operations apart is its new fleet and attention to customer service.
“My friend who is in the business is keen on keeping equipment nice and clean, looking good and working well. I tried to do the same. I just traded in a new fleet. It’s my aim. I want to keep a fleet that is no more than three years old. Besides having newer equipment, I tried my best to work with everyone. If a client rents something on the weekend and it doesn’t work for that person to bring it Monday morning, I’ll meet them on a Sunday. I try to give them that personal touch and work with my clients. I want to be able to have the equipment that my clients need to do their jobs and let my clients know that they’re not just a number,” says Burns.
Looking back on the past three years, learning about a whole new industry and dealing with the normal challenges that come with it, Burns knows he made the right decision. “I have not regretted my choice to enter the industry. I really appreciate it,” he says.