With contractor and homeowner construction booming around Minot, a new business has arrived just in time to help out those who need to rent a unique piece of equipment, buy some safety gear, or have some service work done on existing equipment.
Ahern Rentals has moved into the old Starr Fireworks building on the north edge of Minot at 4715 N. Broadway. Mac Magaster, branch manager, said they actually started renting some equipment as early as this past November when they were still under construction, but have only officially been open for around a month.
Ahern Rentals began in 1953, when founder John Ahern and his wife, Martha, started renting equipment out of a gas station they had purchased. In just a few years, the rental business expanded into its own space and now Ahern Rentals has 75 rental locations in 23 states.
Ahern rents everything from jackhammers and boom lifts to large front-end loaders and dump trucks. They will also sell any piece of equipment in their inventory if a customer would rather own then rent.
"Not only will we sell new equipment, we'll sell used equipment. If somebody wants something and they can't afford a brand new piece of equipment ... we have older ones in our inventory that we will sell," Magaster said. "It's all the equipment that we carry, so anything that we rent, we'll also sell."
Along with sales and rentals, Magaster said they also do service, and not just to their own equipment, but on just about any piece of equipment a customer might have.
"If you have a backhoe, if you have a Bobcat, if you have a piece of equipment that you would like us to look at, we'll also service that," Magaster said. "Now realize that like anything, our rentals come first, but we do offer that service."
Ahern Rentals will also send a mechanic out in the field to fix a piece of equipment, again with the caveat that its own rental equipment takes priority over customer-owned equipment.
Magaster mentioned they are still looking to hire another mechanic with a CDL. Anyone interested can call or stop by the store for more information.
Along with the smaller pieces of equipment inside the store, Ahern also has retail space selling a wide variety of safety gear such as gloves, safety glasses, reflective vests, hard hats and safety cones. Magaster said they will also carry a good selection of power tools and trucking equipment such as tie-downs, oil and windshield washer fluid.
"There's not a lot on North Hill to stop and get those things," Magaster said. "We're going to try and be a little bit diverse. We're also going to have shovels and brooms and snow shovels and ice melt."
The Minot store will be a little different from most Ahern locations by offering a much wider selection of retail items than normal.
"We're going to try and do a little bit more. We're going to try to cater to homeowners, especially now in the spring when the homeowners start rebuilding these flooded homes, which I am one of," Magaster said. "We want to cater to construction, providing heavy equipment to the construction industry, and also to the oil fields, of course."
While the oil fields aren't the main reason Ahern came to Minot, Magaster said they did play a part. To that end, Ahern will be offering a good selection of Carhartt clothing to pull in some of that business. Ahern will be stocking a wide variety of fire resistant Carhartt clothing in particular, as Magaster said laws are changing in March that will require anyone going to an oil well site, even news media, to wear fire-resistant gear, whether it be Carhartt or another brand.
Ahern is based in Las Vegas, and Magaster said when the economy started going south in that region the company looked to expand into markets where the economy was still good or looked to grow. The company had markets in the west and south covered, so the expansion occurred in the east and central regions of the United States, where it finally landed in North Dakota. Magaster said it was North Dakota's overall good economy that brought Ahern here.
"I'm not going to tell you that oil didn't have anything to do with it, because obviously that's also driving our economy," Magaster said. "Minot's a better location than Williston due to the housing and the fact that we have an airport is a real bonus."
He said the location in the old Starr Fireworks building gives them excellent visibility from U.S. Highway 83, and he sees the North Hill area as growing in the coming years, with more housing and a new grocery store going up in the area.
He noted another big service they offer that was previously only found in south Minot is propane refills, whether customers want their current tank filled or they want to swap out their empty for a full. Magaster said they will fill everything from 20-pound tanks used for grills up to 100-pound tanks used in campers.
Ahern is still working on getting all the equipment to the store, and Magaster said if a customer doesn't see what he or she wants, he is able to get equipment from any of the other stores as long as it makes financial sense to ship it. That basically means a large piece of equipment can be ordered if the customer wants to rent it long enough to offset the shipping charges. After the customer is done with it, Magaster would keep it in his inventory for future use, as it would make little sense to spend money shipping it back.
Along with the construction equipment, Magaster said they will also be getting in more equipment for homeowners this spring that will target their particular needs. He noted they already have quite a few industrial-strength pressure washers available, which are great for cleaning siding or driveways.
"I've been here 12 years, so I know what's popular in the spring," Magaster said. "Rototillers, aerators and those thatchers that pull up the old, dead grass. So we're going to try and get a couple of those."