Back in 2013, two entrepreneurial brothers noticed a lack of technology in the world of construction. No strangers to startups and the construction industry, the pair took their frustrations over the technological gaps in asset management and equipment utilization and rental, and they used them as motivation to create EquipmentShare.
Willy Schlacks, President and co-founder of EquipmentShare, says that the construction industry is complicated and he wants to alleviate some of that complication.
“When you’re in construction it’s a fairly chaotic business, I guess that’s the best way to put it. There’s a lot going on and there’s a lot to keep your mind wrapped around,” said Schlacks. “Most of those things can be automated or simplified and made efficient with technology, but they weren’t. It didn’t really seem like technology had transcribed over to the construction world.”
How EquipmentShare Works
Schlacks’ company reduces those unnecessary complications with sophisticated fleet management software and a companion marketplace and rentals platform.
“On the technology side, what we fundamentally do is connect machines and extract data,” explained Schlacks. “So, on a bulldozer or a truck or whatever it may be, we install a tracker and we extract all this engine data through the device.”
The software is specifically targeted for contractors, allowing them to be in control of not just one asset, but hundreds or thousands of assets on one platform. They can collect data in real time, enabling them to better manage their fleet by having a pulse on factors like utilization, maintenance, job costing, and so on.
After extracting the data, EquipmentShare delivers it to users in a format that they can use to make important business decisions. The fleet maintenance software then connects the user to EquipmentShare’s marketplace, enabling users to either rent or lend equipment based on their needs revealed through the asset data.
“If [users] either want to rent or lend on the marketplace, they’re already tied in. It creates a much more seamless process,” said Schlacks. “They have all that rich data and they see all these details and acquisitions, which employee used the machine, how it’s being used––and that ties into job costing and all these other things. If there is a problem, the marketplace is there to solve that problem.”
Staying focused through scaling
Currently, EquipmentShare is being used in markets in the Midwest, the South, Texas and Florida. The company just completed a series B funding round where they raised $26 million. Schlacks intends to put the funds towards scaling.
“We’ve capitalized the company to the point where we can scale well, said Schlacks. “We’re grateful to investors. We can’t scale without them.”
Even through scaling, Schlacks plans on keeping the company hyper-focused on their two solutions: software for contractors and a marketplace that meets supply and demand needs.
“It’s far more about leading the industry on the tech side of extracting and consuming data from machines, and optimizing and leveraging that data,” said Schlacks. “That leads us into exploring remote control for machines, augmented reality for job sites, automation, all that stuff. It’s all on the horizon.”
What’s next for EquipmentShare
Schlacks would like to see EquipmentShare build a strong global presence in both their technology and marketplace offerings. In an industry that generates $50 billion a year, he doesn’t think tapping into demand and sourcing the supply is going to be too difficult.
“We have certainly made a lot of inroads and we know how to do that and that’s probably what a lot of other companies struggle with,” said Schlacks. “Without detailing our top secret methodology, the ways we do that have matured.”
With a promising lead in the industry and a successful round of funding just completed, one of the remaining challenges Schlacks does see is with growing his staff of 120 employees and deciding which opportunities to take as they arise.
“There’s always a challenge of finding great people,” said Schlacks. “There’s also the challenge of which opportunities to tackle. There are so many opportunities that it’s difficult to narrow the focus to what is important.”
He’s not letting those challenges slow him or EquipmentShare down, though.
“At the end of the day, I enjoy it. It’s exciting and we’re doing something cool, but largely it’s because we do have a great team. Whenever you’re tackling a difficult problem, it’s made possible by the people that you know.”
Christine McGuigan is the Associate Editor of Silicon Prairie News.