The place of women in the rental business

Rising above the old guard

Jenny Rauscher is in charge of equipment sales and inventory planning at Rauscher Mietlifte, her father’s equipment rental company. Since joining the company in 2017, she has grown tremendously by overcoming a variety of challenges.  She is also actively becoming more involved in the business as she prepares to assume leadership of the company from her father in the future. Given her unique position in this male-dominated industry, we seized the opportunity to ask Jenny to share her perspective with us.

Rauscher Mietlifte in a few words ? What are you specialized in? When was the company founded?

•Our company Rauscher Mietlifte is based in Lauenförde, and is specialized in the rental of aerial work platforms, forklifts and telehandlers, cranes, and other construction machinery. We also offer service and sales for the machines. Additionally, we are a distributor for Humbaur and Unsinn trailers, so we are quite broadly positioned, but it hasn’t always been this way.

Before being called Rauscher Mietlifte, the company was originally a roofing company with a 250-year current history before my father took over the business in 1993. Three years into this venture, he bought our first trailer-mounted aerial work platform, setting the company on a new path—renting out construction equipment.

For the past 20 years, Rauscher Mietlifte has been dedicated to providing construction equipment rentals. Furthermore, we have been proud members of the PartnerLift cooperative, a network of independent rental companies, since 2005.

Can you tell us a little more about yourself and your current position at Rauscher Mietlifte?

My main activity involves managing the availability of the rental machines, supplying them if needed and providing technical assistance to our customers. My father and I work as a team, deciding on the purchase and sale of the machines together.

I also took over parts of our bookkeeping. Since I will be taking over Rauscher Mietlifte in the future, it is particularly important to me to make many decisions independently and to be involved in as many processes as possible. That’s why I’ve been self-employed since 2019 in addition to my role at the company. I buy my own machines and my first Haulotte was a Star 10!

Haulotte Star 10 vertical mast

What is your background? Can you tell us more about your career? Have you always worked at Rauscher Mietlifte?

After my school education, I completed an apprenticeship as an industrial clerk from 2014-2017. However, it quickly became apparent to me that a pure desk job was not meant for me. In the summer of 2017, I joined our company and have been a permanent employee ever since.

During this time, I’ve acquired a lot of knowledge and valuable experience. I really enjoy the variety here, working with the machines is not everyone’s daily routine and every day brings new challenges that we, as a team, have to overcome again and again. Overcoming these challenges and learning from them has made me extremely versatile.

How would you characterize the German market and how do you think the rental and elevation market will evolve?

The German market is characterized by medium-sized family businesses that focus on direct communication with their customers to continuously provide good quality with fast service. There are many « small » rental companies like us in the German rental market. We will continue to grow with our customers in the future, who rely on the good service, quality, and flexibility that we can provide.

During the recent crisis, construction projects experienced delays due to longer delivery times for building materials. However, the aerial work platform will continue to be the safest solution for working at height in the future. Along with forklifts, telehandlers, as well as our cranes, the materials are transported securely to the top. On the other hand, there are increasing restrictions on working at lower heights due to legislation. To comply with regulations limiting the use of ladders, the demand for small scissor lifts has been on the rise and they are increasingly rented.

What are the main / greatest challenges your company will face in the future?

It is difficult to get young, qualified professionals. Unfortunately, many young people are moving from the countryside to the city, so I think this will be a big challenge for the future. At the moment, we have enough qualified staff to handle the day-to-day work.

However, our rental stock will change somewhat in the future, so we are already buying purely electric aerial work platforms wherever possible. Therefore, the scope of work for my colleagues at the workshop will become more extensive, and soon we will have to actively look for qualified personnel again. In addition, digitalization is really not the best in Germany, so sometimes we face major problems with having a fast and stable internet connection, especially in our rural location.

How long has Haulotte been a partner and what are your expectations from your suppliers and from Haulotte in particular?

Haulotte has been our partner since 2005. That year, we received our first articulated boom lift HA15 IP and the Optimum 8 scissor lift. Both of these platforms are still being used by our customers which bought these machines.

We have established an excellent relationship with our suppliers and I am optimistic that our strong collaboration will continue into the future, that the quality of the products and the service will remain the same or become even better and that customer requests will be addressed so that we can grow together. It is also extremely important right now that technologically future-proof products are developed and produced.

Is it a preconceived idea that women are better business managers than men? Do you have to work harder to prove your leadership skills?

That is a difficult question. On the one hand, I think it depends on the company concept and the industry. On the other hand, I also think it is a question of generation rather than gender. Everyone has their own strengths, and when it comes to being a manager, that person, regardless of gender, should be encouraged to use their own skills.

Because the rental market, or any machine-related market, is still male-dominated, I started out having to assert myself to our customers and prove that I had a strong understanding of the field.

It is often said that women managers have a more participative management style than men, in your opinion, "myth or reality"?

I would say that this is still a reality. With the upcoming generational change at the management level, I think the style will change over time. As far as our company is concerned, my father is rather the exception, and I often hear this when I talk to customers.

The experience and opinions of the employees are important and are discussed with everyone, if necessary, in order to achieve the best possible solution for the company and our customers. For example, before purchasing a new machine, the workshop is always involved in the decision.

No matter how great the best machine can be, if the service does not respond quickly and fairly and regular maintenance cannot be carried out by our workshop, we look around for an alternative product.

Are women managers less tender with their peers? On a daily basis, what do you find most difficult to manage and most rewarding?

Jenny Rauscher is in charge of equipment sales and inventory planning at Rauscher Mietlifte,

No, strictness is simply not expected of a woman. For example, if I make a decision that my colleagues don’t like, I am unfortunately still « labelled » as too strict, and discussions start. If my father makes a similar decision a short time later, it is accepted without any discussion or comments. Every day brings new and sometimes very difficult challenges. Overcoming these and receiving the positive feedback and compliments from our customers, that always makes me happy. Besides, I am currently the only female full-time employee. At times it is still difficult to assert myself against the elder and established employees, so it is even more rewarding when I can implement my suggestions.

Any advice for young women who want to start a business?
And a mantra?

Don't let others bring you down, don't listen to negative or condescending comments. As long as you are dedicated and enjoy your work, just do it and establish your company. Build your own team and surround yourself with people you can work with and who, like you, are as passionate about the business. Good luck! My mantra: “You got this!"

Jenny Rauscher is gearing up to take charge of Rauscher Mietlifte, facing a new set of challenges different from her father’s. Key among these are the scarcity of qualified young professionals in rural areas and the shift to purely electric aerial work platforms. Despite still needing to assert and prove herself in this male-dominated equipment rental industry, Jenny moves forward with confidence. Seeing a bright future for the equipment rental market, her focus is on taking Rauscher Mietlifte to even greater heights.

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