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Spring 2008

Rental Stores Make Remarkable Comeback

Bobcat Machines Help Rebuild Cities after Hurricane Katrina

Damage from Hurricane Katrina can still be seen along Interstate 10 in Louisiana and Mississippi. More than two-and-a-half years after that terrible storm, companies in the region are working to recover and get back to business as usual.

Many rental companies survived the hurricane and today are helping their customers rebuild cities like New Orleans, Biloxi and Gulfport. Tuff Equipment Rentals of Slidell, La., and Milner Rental Center of Gulfport, Miss., are two remarkable examples.

Tuff Equipment Rentals and Milner Rental Center are a lot alike. Both companies are run by family members who make it their priority to provide the best customer service possible. Ralph Kastner Sr., Ralph Kastner Jr. and daughter Amy Kastner operate Tuff Equipment Rentals. John Milner started Milner Rental Center, and today sons Lawrence and Jay operate stores in Gulfport and Biloxi. Clearly these families have done something right, given their combined 55 years of experience in the rental market.

“Rubber tracks give us the versatility to move across soft terrain. “We have 23 Bobcat T250 track loaders and it’s difficult to keep them in.”

These organizations also have something else in common — they are loyal Bobcat equipment owners. Tuff Equipment Rentals has nearly 30 compact excavators, 40 loaders and countless Bobcat attachments including hydraulic breakers, sweepers, augers, pallet forks and grapple buckets. Ralph Kastner Sr. says Bobcat® compact track loaders have been especially helpful because of their superior flotation in wet, New Orleans soil. Tuff’s loyalty to Duhon Equipment — a local Bobcat dealership — is a testament of the dealership’s strong position in the market. “No other dealership provides the kind of service that Duhon Equipment does — they always get us the parts and service we need without making us wait,” says Ralph Kastner Jr.

Although Milner Rental Center doesn’t carry the large Bobcat inventory like Tuff, general manager Lawrence Milner says his family’s store has always purchased Bobcat equipment from Beard Equipment.

In November 2007, the Milner family celebrated 30 years in the rental business. Today the company is a valuable resource for contractors or homeowners looking to rent durable Bobcat skid-steer loaders or compact excavators. “Most of our customers rent Bobcat equipment to complete projects where other equipment won’t fit,” Milner says. “We carry the 323 excavators for customers who dig for septic tanks, water lines and footings for foundations.”

Storm Survivors

Both Tuff and Milner survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but not without some losses. Ralph Kastner Sr. says water damage from the storm ruined most of his Bobcat inventory and cost him millions of dollars. “We bought almost 70 pieces of Bobcat equipment, including 30 grapple buckets for storm debris cleanup after Katrina,” says Kastner.

“Bobcat has an excellent product with a reputation for good service. Our sales specialist at Beard Equipment takes good care of us — he is always there when we need parts.”

Thankfully, the Milner rental store in Gulfport didn’t sustain wind and water damage like other structures along the Gulf Coast. “We were fortunate because we’re on a little hill — what little hills there are in Mississippi,” Milner explains. “The flood waters reached the street behind us. The store served as a shelter; more than 30 people stayed here during the storm.”

Reflecting on the days immediately after Katrina, Milner says his customers were thankful the store didn’t get severely damaged. “We had customers lined up outside the store,” he says. “We were open for business the following day and customers were anxious to rent the Bobcat equipment.”

With dependable machines and attachments from Bobcat, rental stores like Tuff and Milner are helping developers on the Gulf Coast rebuild cities and the economy. If you’d like to read more about Bobcat equipment designed for the rental market, as well as what other customers are saying about Bobcat machines, visit the rental page.