Versalift is a market-leading manufacturer of bucket trucks, digger derricks and cable placers based in Waco, TX. The company is increasing production to meet the demand of those at-risk communities in the United States, Puerto Rico and neighboring Caribbean Islands that were hardest hit by hurricanes and, more recently, wildfires.
The destruction of the September storms was unthinkable; in November, six weeks after the hurricanes made landfall, CNN reported that at least 499 deaths were believed to be storm-related, but other sources have put that number at 1,000 or more. On September 20, 2017, Maria made landfall near Yabucoa in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane. It is the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years. The energy grid is heavily damaged, with an island-wide power outage. Restoring electricity to the entire island may take months or years. The storm also hit the US Virgin Islands, where at least one person died. In Southern California, the Thomas Fire completely destroyed more than 230,000 acres of land, significantly affecting those people reliant upon electric power infrastructure in the area. As a company, Versalift has actively pursued a response-and-support posture.
Versalift Rentals are booked solid for the next 6 months. The rental fleet readied for mobilization as early as September and traveled South to be in position for the response. Hurricane Harvey nearly drowned the city of Houston, and 82 people in Versalift’s home state of Texas lost their lives as a result of the storm.
Versalift boosted production because the storms showed no sign of stopping or even slowing down.
The hurricane season always means high demand for bucket trucks. These essential utility trucks are designed to build and maintain a nation’s vast network of telecommunications and electric utility lines. This year was exceptionally challenging, with storms and fires hitting multiple population centers, and the desperate need to restore power continuing to grow. While the United States and its citizens, both on the mainland and in the Caribbean, will eventually rebuild basic utility infrastructure stronger than ever, it is a long road and there is a lot of work to complete before these systems get back up and running.
WHAT IS VERSALIFT DOING TO HELP?
Versalift Response: In September of 2017 the company immediately launched Versalift Response, a program designed to support its customers in their efforts to reach out to those communities most in need, providing deals through its Utilitytrucktrader.com subsidiary on current ready-to-go inventory, special leases from the new Versalift Capital Program, and quick and proprietary access to rental fleets.
Training: When non-stop bad weather conditions and other dangerous natural phenomena disable electric power infrastructure, there are rarely enough trained technicians (in the industry, they are known as linemen) available to do the work of restoring it. The company’s approach has been to design and institute a worldwide, web-based Bucket Truck Operational Training program. Versalift, through its Versaliftfit.com website, now offers online and in-person training programs that meet ANSI and OSHA guidelines for every product line it sells. This means that as Versalift customers hire new staff and buy more equipment to meet needs, they have the tools in place to properly ensure that their staff is trained to safely operate any Versalift bucket truck they purchase.
Rental Fleets: Because Versalift is a leading bucket truck manufacturer with a 50 year heritage and a family of distributors around the country and the world, the company is aware of where the units are that are ready to go and help right now. Versalift’s bucket truck rental subsidiary, TRL Rents, currently has units available in 15 locations around the country. The TRL rental fleet is currently at 95% utilization, because the most powerful units are already working non-stop to restore power in affected areas.
Manufacturing: There is never a good time for natural disasters. Instead, there is always a good opportunity to be well-prepared for what may come. Versalift manufacturing and support services are benefiting from recent management changes, which have been focused on improving First Time Quality and unit production speed, across the board. With new facility improvements and adjustments to the just-in-time manufacturing process, Versalift’s Waco, Texas location has been able to meet new demand for trouble trucks, digger derricks, and cable placer units. As new units leave the Waco manufacturing facility and head toward the rebuilding efforts, Versalift continues to raise awareness that the work is not even close to being completed.