We talked to Willy Schlacks of EquipmentShare about the construction industry and COVID-19.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Willy Schlacks: Very well. We are remarkably fortunate to be in a position to help others during these times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded EquipmentShare.
Willy Schlacks: My brother and I had a less than usual upbringing. Unlike most kids our age, we did not have typical access to computers, phones, or video games. But we were very curious about how things worked, and both had an entrepreneurial spirit. We created our first business at ages 10 and 15. Working in and around the construction industry at a very young age provided us with a unique perspective about an industry that had not changed in decades.
We first launched the concept of EquipmentShare after experiencing frustrations in our construction companies. We had no capacity for real-time visibility into our jobsites. We set out to build an ecosystem by first connecting the three verticals within the industry: assets, people, and materials.
From that point on, the company and technology continued to evolve to meet contractors’ needs and anticipate the challenges they face on and off the jobsite. Today, EquipmentShare’s growing presence of more than 70 locations, including equipment and service yards, research and development sites, administrative offices, and specialty solutions, serve the rapid demand for the company’s equipment solutions. Working with major equipment manufacturers, EquipmentShare’s cloud is the platform for construction and industrial companies enabling a real-time view into the connected jobsite. EquipmentShare’s enterprise suite is OEM-agnostic and can track any piece of equipment, regardless of brand, to help fleet managers monitor assets, prevent theft and machine misuse, track employee hours and shifts, increase machine utilization, and digitize maintenance and work orders to avoid unplanned downtime. We are changing the way construction does business.
How does EquipmentShare innovate?
Willy Schlacks: We employ nearly 2,000 team members of diverse perspectives that challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of possibilities to create unparalleled customer value. We empower our staff to think outside of the box and develop new and better ways to solve problems. I see this every day on the job and am constantly impressed by their commitment to moving this industry forward.
We’re also not afraid to try new things, throw something against the wall and see if it sticks. Our Robotics division is a testament to our commitment to innovation. They’re building a platform for autonomous construction technology solutions. We’re a very flexible, nimble team, which means we’re able to change our focus on a dime to make sure we’re delivering something of true value to our customers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Willy Schlacks: Construction contributes significantly to our nation’s GDP and is a driving factor in the economic health of communities in every corner of the country. Unfortunately, the industry has been hit hard—from the increased cost in building materials due to a decrease in manufacturing production, to the complexities of safely managing jobsites and customers. But this is where EquipmentShare can really show its strength and help the industry transition through the storm.
Our team of engineers and field staff at EquipmentShare continues to develop new ways to help the builders of America move forward in this time of national health crisis. Our proprietary smart jobsite technology, EquipmentShare Track, allows contractors to manage and track their fleet from anywhere on the planet through their smart device. It’s EquipmentShare’s mission to ensure that contractors and construction professionals have the right tools and assets to get the job done, whether that’s contactless equipment rental experience, smart jobsite technology, service, and parts or a new machine. We are the go-to construction resource for getting the job done today and tomorrow.
One side effect of tech-powered communication is less time spent talking face-to-face, which is currently necessary as we continue to navigate work in a pandemic. EquipmentShare’s suite of construction technology solutions includes various tools and features that will help contractors continue to work without risk of exposure.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Willy Schlacks: Certainly, I feel the lesson I always learn is the downfall of my own hubris and the wisdom that humility brings.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and EquipmentShare in the future?
Willy Schlacks: I don’t really have any reason to feel stress or anxiety when I think of what most humans on earth deal with. As far as protecting the company, my brother and I do not see EquipmentShare in any other terms than the people that are part of it, and we feel a deep obligation to serve them.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Willy Schlacks: We don’t see many companies attempting to compete with our vision. If there are those that come along, we welcome positive friction, and we will always be an underdog, achieved primarily through tackling the impossible. We stay in the game by fostering an environment of humility and curiosity and keeping at bay the inevitable failure that follows success.
Your final thoughts?
Willy Schlacks: Unlike many companies out there experiencing a slowdown in hiring as a result of the pandemic, we are still looking to fill a variety of positions throughout the country. Glassdoor recently named EquipmentShare on the list of 21 companies actively hiring amid Covid-19. We encourage those looking for a new career to visit our website at equipmentshare.com. Our culture is unique at EquipmentShare. We hire people who are not content with sitting still, but rather, they’re passionate about tackling challenges in new ways. We empower our people to think outside the box to drive the future of the construction industry.
Additionally, our drive to help contractors build spaces and structures efficiently is matched by our desire to build up and better communities through philanthropic initiatives like our new BuildShare Partnership program. As one of the largest construction equipment rental companies in the world, we partner with non-profit organizations to deploy our assets and team members on building projects that benefit the public and community. From community rec centers and parks, annexes, and other structures for charitable organizations, or homes for those in need, BuildShare Partnerships build-up, and better communities.
Our Covid-19 statement and mission to move contractors through the pandemic: https://www.equipmentshare.com/covid