Do you remember how Airbnb redefined the way we travel? And how Uber and Lyft revolutionized how we got from A to B? Well, a new tech platform claims to be an efficient solution for bringing visibility and value to the supply chain’s underutilized equipment and making that equipment available to those in need.
REPOWR, a startup based in Alabama, is a virtual community and digital marketplace that monetizes the supply-chain’s underutilized equipment, via B2B equipment rentals. Think Airbnb, but a sharing-economy for the supply-chain’s mobile equipment. The company is refining the way transportation companies rent and lease equipment, by connecting transportation and leasing companies to a network marketplace.
If a transportation or distribution company’s trucks and trailers are not being utilized regularly, they become a significant expense for companies. The REPOWR platform enables equipment owners to generate revenue from its owned, underutilized equipment supply. Those in need of additional equipment capacity know where to find it, without making dozens of phone calls. REPOWR is due to release its initial mobile application in the coming months, but its website is available to gas distributors to utilize now. The company began in the long-haul trucking industry, where it has created much momentum among the some of the trucking industry’s largest companies.
“We have seen a lot of early success in the trucking industry, where we connect trucking and leasing companies of all sizes,” Patrick Visintainer, co-found and CEO of REPOWR, told gasworld. “The demand for equipment is growing rapidly and if those wheels aren’t turning, that’s a missed revenue opportunity. Lack of equipment capacity is a hot topic in the world of transportation. Many believe this to be true, but the capacity is out there… it’s just not being utilized efficiently. My family has always been deeply ingrained in the gas distribution industry and since many gas distributors already share equipment among each other, we found REPOWR to be a perfect fit for the networks of gas distributors.”
Visintainer is the nephew of Bill Visintainer, former President of GAWDA and current President of Birmingham, Alabama-based industrial gas and welding supply distributor Atlas Welding Supply. After a few years of working at Atlas, Patrick launched REPOWR with fellow co-founder Spencer Ware at the start of 2021. The tech platform was made available to IWDC members in May.
“While at Atlas, I always found it very challenging to find available equipment for special projects,” Visintainer said. “I would have an end user call me and say, ‘I need 12 tube trailers down in Panama City, Florida, do you have that?’ As an independent distributor, we only owned one tube trailer, so I just started hammering the phones. Even with uncle Bill’s network of connections, it was still a time-consuming process. I spent the next few weeks calling dozens of people asking if they had any available tube trailers? What’s the price? How long can we rent it?… and the process just took so long. Many companies already share equipment with each other, there just wasn’t an efficient process for locating and gathering the details of availability and price. That’s where REPOWR comes in to bring visibility and value to available equipment nearby. We serve as the connection point between equipment supply and rental demand.”
The REPOWR platform aims to aggregate available equipment inventory and provide book-it-now equipment to renters’ fingertips, via its mobile application. REPOWR targets gas distributors with inactive, stagnant trucks, tube/cryogenic trailers, bulk tanks, microbulk, cylinder gases, and high-end welding equipment as well as other ‘vital assets’ and connects them with industry counterparts in need. REPOWR also strategically targets vendors in the rental-leasing space to provide increased visibility and real-time availability to their equipment inventory.
“The concept is gaining traction in the trucking space with many big-name carriers, where our network marketplace provides instant access to truck and trailer capacity. These companies haul general freight, flatbed commodities, and refrigerated goods,” REPOWR COO Ware told gasworld.
“We quickly realized that the IWDC and the gas distributors alike, are essentially small trucking companies, they just happen to haul specialized commodities and the trailers needed to transport these commodities are very expensive. We are providing an Expedia-like platform for transport companies to quickly find the equipment they need and rent it with a click of the button.”
REPOWR users can search for equipment rentals and filter search results by location, type of truck, type of trailer and dates of availability. REPOWR claims that at any given moment there is over $1 trillion of valuable equipment – trucks and trailers – sitting stagnant. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, rental-lease companies saw record-level equipment demand. E-commerce platforms also experienced unprecedented growth in 2020, leading to shippers needing more rental trailers to keep up with rising orders from e-commerce giants.
REPOWR is collaborating with major companies in the gas industry about asset-utilization rates and generating a new type of revenue, by leasing their equipment. Visintainer and Ware see REPOWR’s software as a value-add feature to transportation management systems (TMS) and existing software platforms worldwide.
“I think the large players like Messer, Airgas, Air Products will find the REPOWR model to be valuable, because these companies have thousands of expensive assets on the balance sheet,” Visintainer said.
“We also feel that we have a strong product offering for the independent distributors, by helping these small to midsized companies be more flexible with equipment spending, by providing them with on-demand access to assets. We would funnel demand to companies like KAG, generate new avenues to make money. We work with leasing companies. It scares them at first, but we are just funneling qualified rental demand to them. Our goal at REPOWR is not to disrupt the equipment-rental industry. We are simply refining the way companies rent and lease equipment, by providing a more streamlined and efficient process, by providing a platform for collaboration and instant connectivity.”
Damage of equipment and disputes over insurance payouts are not a problem, according to Ware.
“We worked with a highly regarded transportation-focused firm which helped us develop the framework we need in our terms of service and rental agreement,” Ware said. “A lot of these gas distributors also have the same insurance carrier, so that alleviates much of the back-and-forth communication as far as evidencing proper insurance requirements. We’ve had no issues getting approval from insurance companies.”
Ware says REPOWR is working on an innovative insurance solution that will alleviate equipment owners’ concerns and will further streamline and enhance REPOWR’s digital rental experience.
Visintainer and Ware relate the REPOWR concept to their first Airbnb or Uber experience.
“The sharing-economy has shifted the mindsets of millions of people and now, Airbnb, Uber and Lyft are preferred among the majority of societies world-wide,” Visintainer said. “We had a customer in Indiana, post nine trucks, while they search for new-hire drivers to fill trucks. If each of these trucks are rented for a year, they’ll earn additional revenue of $400,000. Transportation equipment is expensive, so it’s expensive to insure. Every year, insurance premiums hit a new all-time high. Many asset owners don’t realize they are still paying ridiculously high insurance premiums for equipment that’s just sitting in the yard. REPOWR helps to recoup these type of operational expenses.”