rental: How did you get into the rental industry?
Judy Fishgold: I met Jim Pedulla, the company’s CEO and owner, in the summer of 2014 and have been together ever since. My background is in agriculture, real estate and retail. Jim was a general contractor and lent tools to his friends. They would break them or not give them back, so he started borrowing them.
Altra has grown from a small shop of two employees to a 20,000 square foot space and 23 employees. Jim asked me to work for his company in the spring of 2017. That year, we added 16,000 square feet of space and opened a new state-of-the-art showroom.
rental: Could you tell us a little bit about your current company?
fish gold: Our store is a building material specialty store that celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Sales people come by all the time and say they’ve never seen anything like our store. I’m here. Our latest venture is our new ‘store within a store’ work shoe and safety clothing division. We call it Shoe Lodge and carry well over 200 styles of work boots, safety clothing, personal care items and accessories.
We have a diverse customer base that includes contractors, municipalities, farms, masons, carpenters, utilities, machinery and serious DIY enthusiasts. We only carry major brand, contractor grade equipment and supplies. A complete one-stop shop for renting anything from wallpaper steamers to telehandlers, construction equipment and supplies, concrete consumables, power tools, fasteners, garden supplies, socks and more.
rental: What have been some of the challenges and successes you have experienced over the years you have been in business?
fish gold: One of our biggest challenges today is dealing with ongoing price increases and surcharges for nearly all products and freight, as well as delays in delivering new equipment and parts.
Another recent challenge for us over the past two years has been finding qualified employees with the right skill sets during the pandemic. During this time, we are also considering raising wages and benefits, increasing pay per employee by up to 30% and introducing a stronger benefits package to maintain retention. New York state labor laws and orders continue to change, allowing employees to take more paid time off.
Additionally, we have a very large retail inventory and compete with vendors who sell directly to the internet or end users. We are always vigilant and dedicated to good purchasing practices.
rental: What would you say is your favorite part of this job?
fish gold: My favorite part of the job is working with the team to continuously improve our culture, learn the industry, and grow our business. we take care of each other.
I also look forward to being a member of the ARA NY Board of Directors. We have been able to look at a variety of industry standards, both nationally and globally, to the wonderful tools available from ARA. It has also given me the opportunity to meet colleagues and vendors from all over the country with whom I can share my challenges and successes. It was a great honor to attend the Leadership Conference in November and I learned a lot. I also learned from my new colleagues that there are a lot of women in rentals. Women in Rental InitiativeAs a rental business, we appreciate all the services provided through ARA and are proud to be a part of this world class organization.
Last but not least, my favorite part of my job is taking our golden retriever Molly and our black lab Usher to work every day. and customers enjoy their company immensely!
rental: What business technology or aid is most commonly used and why is it important to your business?
fish gold: We are currently reviewing new rental software that includes terms and conditions for rental equipment. We have a very large retail division along with our rental division and we have found that our strong rental software does not support our retail requirements, but the strong retail software does not support the rental side. We are currently in the process of implementing SmartEquip. We have a strong parts business and service department and we look forward to being able to order parts.
rental: Ok, fun question! What are your favorite hobbies?
My favorite hobby is reusing old items into art! Much like turning antique costume jewelry into modern wearable items. Or make a bracelet out of old cufflinks. Or you can even turn your grandmother’s baby pearls into earrings you can wear every day. Painting old furniture and lamps is always fun.
Also, we live on Lake Ontario and collect some great driftwood so we can make pencil trees for the holidays. I like to reach out. It grounds me.