Renting lets users test-drive plastic bins before buying

07/10/2013 09:27:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

If you’re unsure how a specific plastic bin size may work in your operation, you only need bins during a short period or you’re hesitant about taking the plunge into plastic, renting the containers may be an option.

“We have customers who may not fully realize the benefits of plastic bins, and they don’t want to lay out that type of capital. This allows them to test-drive the bins, so to speak,” says Frank Ramos, Macro Plastics account manager for Northern California and southern Oregon.

Although the rental program remains a small part of the Fairfield, Calif., plastic bin manufacturer’s overall business, it still is of value to certain customers, he says.

“This is not a core business for us, but it’s been something that’s been good for us and good for our customers,” Ramos says. “We’ve been able to help them out of jams and give them flexibility.”

Tailor program to customers

Madeira Beach, Fla.-based Reusable Transport Packaging Inc. launched its rental division, Container Pal, last year at the request of customers, said Jon Bean, chief executive officer. The business is young and continues to evolve.

But he says the division already offers three or four different options and is willing to tailor programs to customers.

“Maybe they need a quick shipment (of bins) to get the crop in,” he says. “Maybe they just are storing for a while. Maybe they just don’t want to make the capital investment in plastic bins for the season.”

In addition to short-term rentals, Container Pal also offers a lease-to-own program that helps buyers manage cash flow.

“They know they need them,” Bean says. “They know they don’t want wood—they want plastic, but they don’t want to put the capital up front.”

A relatively new fleet

Macro Plastics likes to tout its relatively new fleet of rental bins, Ramos says.

The program also involves some of the more popular sizes, such as the  48-by-48-by-30-inch harvest bin. Once the bins have been rented out a few times, the company sells them used at a discount, which appeals to some buyers, Ramos says.

Should renters decide to buy the bins at the end of the period, they receive a rental credit that can be applied to the purchase. The reason to go with rental bins varies among users, he says.

Taking a test drive

California Endive Farms, Rio Vista, Calif., was one of those firms that rented to test drive plastic bins. Growing Belgian endive is a two-step process.

Chickory roots are harvested from the field, then put in large 4-foot-by-4-foot-by-4-foot bins under cold storage to push them into dormancy.

The second step involves pulling the roots from the cold and forcing them to grow in dark rooms to produce the endive. Currently, California Endive Farms uses all wooden bins. But co-owner Richard Collins says he wanted to test whether plastic bins might work better.

“I have a very skeptical board of directors, so we just needed to demonstrate the value and validity of the investment before we would commit to quite a bit of money to change over from wood to plastic,” he says.

So far, it appears precooling of the roots as they come in from the field has been cut by one-half to two thirds with the plastic bins, Collins says.

That should equate to a large energy and cost savings and a boost in capacity.



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