Purchasing Used Mast Climbers


Mast Climbers

The current state of the construction market presents all sorts of challenges for contractors. By the same token, it also offers tremendous opportunities for those who can afford it. For instance, the used construction equipment market always has played a significant role in the industry, particularly in difficult times. The mast climbing work platform (MCWP) market doesn’t differ from the rest. Even though it is a relatively young segment in the United States, we have seen drastic increases in used platforms transaction volume during the present crisis.  Mainly stimulated by contractors going out of business, and others significantly reducing their fleets, the situation has rapidly created an aggressive secondhand market.

Manufacturers of other types of equipment are, for the most part, heavily involved in the used equipment business. While each manufacturer in the MCWP market seems to be dealing on an opportunistic basis with used equipment, we now see Hydro Mobile being the first big player in the United States to step forward and create a formal program revolving around the purchase, exchange and sale of used mast climbers. This new venture will allow more flexibility for customers. For example, Hydro Mobile will sell refurbished equipment with a manufacturer warranty, which will allow contractors to get quality equipment at reduced pricing.

In these times, there are often opportunities on the market that are really worth going for. Indeed, we have seen some extremely low selling prices for mast climbers in auctions or directly from contractors trying to get rid of equipment. Still, in most cases, it is worth evaluating the value of purchasing used equipment directly or through a manufacturer. The potential problems related to the short- and medium-term use of secondhand mast climbers can rapidly offset the apparent deal you got on the market. Here are five key elements to consider when deciding on the purchase of a used MCWP.

Equipment past history
The number of years in service of a platform is usually a good indicator of its remaining lifespan. One thing that also needs to be considered is the history of the equipment you are looking into buying. What type of jobs was it used for? How many hours of operations does the platform have? Was maintenance regularly performed? In what conditions was the equipment stored? Were recalls or upgrades performed by the previous owner? These are all questions that should help you make a decision. A well-maintained older unit may actually represent a wiser purchase than some newer platforms.

Parts availability/manufacturer support
Discontinued products and mast climbers manufactured by companies no longer in business often represent the lowest priced equipment on the market. Even if these MCWPs are still in good condition, you must be able to purchase parts at a decent price and get them promptly. If there are safety issues with the product or on a jobsite, will you be able to receive support? Will you be able to purchase additional parts or accessories if you need to adapt your equipment to a specific set-up? Are proper parts to perform recalls or upgrades easily accessible? Again, these are all questions that need to be considered in order to make a sound business decision.

Authorized dealer proximity (product support)
Authorized dealers offer many services that can help you maximize your investment. These guys can provide troubleshooting, erection and dismantle services, and maintenance, and they also sell parts and equipment. Additionally, dealers can rent equipment compatible with the products you purchased and offer training to help you make a safe and efficient use of your mast climbers.

Training is a key issue in the MCWP industry. Actually, training should serve two distinct purposes, safety and liability. When buying a used product on the market, it is important to assure you can get proper product-specific training. Indeed, training your workers, E&D crew and operators is required on a jobsite in order to be safety compliant. Safety and liability are two elements that cannot be taken lightly in our industry. On the other hand, MCWP training should also help your company reach a maximum level of efficiency with the products you own. Might it be through better understanding product performance and set-up, or by learning how to maximize workers performance? We all know that efficiency is one of the main reasons contractors start using mast climbers.

What type of MCWP do you presently own? In the future, will you be able to purchase additional equipment to complete your fleet? Can you easily find additional used equipment that would be compatible? What will be the resale value in a couple of years? Having a short-term view can offer immediate benefits but can sometimes play tricks on you when looking long term.

In conclusion, buying used equipment directly from the manufacturer usually represents an additional cost. But when analyzed properly, these costs can often be offset by the manufacturer’s warranty or hidden costs related to the topics addressed earlier in this article. When you look at the big picture, finding a great deal doesn’t always mean finding the cheapest purchase price.

Thierry Lachapelle is marketing and sales director for Hydro Mobile Inc. For more information, call 888-484-9376, or visit Hydro Mobile is a privately owned corporation mainly involved in the design, manufacturing and distribution of mast climbing work platforms for the construction industry.

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