When a door slams in one’s face, it’s one’s job to find a window. When Ali Zaimi didn’t find one, he made his own path. Ali worked for a rental company in many different roles, including accounts receivable, inside sales, then outside sales. Unfortunately, Ali was fired in the heart of the recession. He started his own company two weeks later in September 2009.
Ali started his own business as an equipment broker soon because he had a mortgage, his wife, and his baby to think about. He used his seven years of experience working in three stages of the rental biz to his advantage.
This was when Olympic Equipment Rentals (OER Services) was born in Palatine, IL. Today, OER Services specializes in aerial lift and material handling equipment rentals/sales across the U.S. and world.
To start, OER was run by Ali and one employee, and they would rent a couple pieces of equipment themselves. OER wanted to have longer contracts with customers, so buying equipment made sense. Ali turned to Beacon Funding when other financial institutions turned him down as a start-up. After financing, OER Services owns 63 pieces of aerial and material handling equipment and operates under a full team.
OER Services Snapshot:
- Aerial work platform rental business from Palatine, IL, specializing in fork, boom, and scissor lift equipment rentals and sales in 47 states and outside the U.S.
- Started in 2009 by an equipment broker working out of his house with 3 aerial lifts and 2 employees
- After financing expanded to 63 pieces of equipment and a team of 8 employees
- Approved for financing as a start-up from Beacon when banks would not approve
- Acquired 23 aerial lifts from financing with Beacon Funding
The “one-stop-shop” for equipment rentals
OER Services was very different in its early stages with Ali running the books, doing sales, and managing the business out of his home. He was an equipment broker with three pieces of construction equipment that he rented himself. He would negotiate the cost of rentals with a margin.
The OER Services team started with Ali and one sales rep, then they added one more a year later. Today they have a team of eight. Now that the team has expanded, Ali’s wife, April, does the bookkeeping while Ali can focus on his sales team.
With their full team, OER Services caters to businesses internationally with aerial work platform equipment rentals and sales, specializing in fork, boom, and scissor lifts —equipment used to lift other equipment or material up into the air.
OER Services is different than their competitors because they give every customer individualized attention and care.
“We roll out the red carpet for our customers. We serve the smallest contractors to large government entities with a single point of contact,” Zaimi says.
Start-up financing fast
In 2010, OER decided it would be a good idea to provide equipment for government agencies, such as the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), by serving them competitive quotes for aerial lift equipment.
In order to provide these competitive quotes, OER would have to provide longer contracts and offer more equipment than what they were renting. Lucky for them, a lot of used equipment was available on the market at lower prices because of the recession. This is where financing came in to play. The start-up business needed to grow their fleet and increase their monthly margins quickly.
OER Services applied for financing in February 2010 with many lending companies but had no bite because of their limitations as a start-up. They needed to be in business for at least 2-3 years and had to match other prerequisites they lacked. On top of all this, OER Services needed answers fast. They needed a quick turnaround time in order to purchase equipment through auction channels, thereby paying the seller off within a week.
With Beacon Funding, Ali was able to apply as a start-up and utilized his personal credit in the process. He was approved for his first two pieces of construction equipment (two JLG scissor lifts) to add into his rental fleet within 48 hours.
“Beacon Funding helped us when other banks would not extend traditional lending to us,” Ali says. “Those first two pieces were instrumental with monthly cash flow in the early stages when I was just a single-man company. It’s helped us grow in the past six and a half years to the team of eight we are now.”
Beacon embodied the one-on-one approach OER boasted when a local Beacon rep delivered the lease paperwork himself to Ali’s house.
“Beacon helped us keep the lights on at the beginning,” Ali says. “They worked with us when no one else would give us the time of day.”
Beacon was able to give OER Services the start-up financing they needed to grow their rental fleet with a dollar purchase option on most of their 23 leases.
OER Services around the world
When OER Services was a company of one working out of his home, Beacon Funding was there to lend a hand. Now after financing, OER has 63 pieces of equipment and serves nationwide to 47 states. Their market has gone global, serving government agencies and U.S. embassies around the world including parts of Africa and Canada.
Even when life throws punches, one must be able to get back up and start anew. Beacon helped OER Services reach their potential by being their partner in the equipment financing journey.
“Beacon Funding has helped us create our American dream, and we are confident they can help most small businesses out there create theirs.”
Keep dreaming Ali, it really takes your business places.
Thank you to OER Services for participating in Beacon Funding's Success Spotlight program. The Success Spotlight program gives Beacon customers and partners a chance to shine with recognition of their equipment financing success. This is achieved through enhanced exposure and free nationwide publicity through Beacon's online channels. To learn more about the program click here.