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In the summer of 2014, Jonathan Darby and Matt Smith founded Great Plains Equipment Rental with two skid steers, a truck and a trailer. 

“We had almost no knowledge of construction equipment when we first started,” Smith told CED. “It’s pretty funny when it was just the two of us , and we would open up the back gate of a skid steer to ‘service’ it and just sit there and stare at each other for a few seconds. We would pay a mechanic to come to blow out air filters and do oil changes.”

However, Smith explained, “things very, very quickly changed and we became sponges for information on how to properly service equipment. We owe a lot of our early mechanical education to Daniel Burgess with On-Site Service in Midland, Texas. He still consults for us sometimes, and Jonathan and I both consider him an excellent friend and resource.”

Smith’s knowledge of the rental business stemmed from his and his wife’s experiences in renting real estate. “Before founding GP Rentals, my wife and I had several residential and commercial properties that we owned and rented. The model of renting assets is one that makes a lot of sense in my mind.”

After a year or so of dealing primarily with skid steers, the company began renting out larger equipment like mini excavators, dump trailers, and towable boom lifts. Over the past couple of years, Great Plains Equipment Rental’s inventory has continued to grow, not only in number, but in size; they now rent telehandlers (5.5K 19-footers to 10K 56-footers), warehouse forklifts (6K), and powered boom lifts (60- to 85-footers), as well as a great variety of other equipment and tools.

In the past five years the company has grown to become the ultimate source of top equipment brands for the commercial, residential and industrial construction industries in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, with brands like Bobcat, Skyjack, Allmand, Makita, Core Out, Canysom, Haulotte, Mi-T-M, and Bomag. In 2019, GP expanded beyond its original Lubbock location to a second branch in Wolfforth, Texas.

Great Plains Equipment Rentals aspires to be the best equipment rental agency in the region, and they take a three-pronged approach to this end: “First and foremost, we have outstanding people involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. Secondly, we genuinely focus on treating customers fairly and with great respect. Lastly, we continually ensure our prices are the best, or very nearly the best available in the equipment rental marketplace.”

When asked what GP Rentals will look like, ideally, in ten years, Smith said, “A rental company where our customers have had years of assurance in knowing that we are here to partner with them and equip them with every tool needed to get their job done right. If we keep our eyes focused on this vision, our company will grow exponentially.”

Another source of Great Plains Rentals’ growth will undoubtedly be their recently acquired AED membership. “We decided to join AED for the robust training, education, and testing modules and resources available both online and in-person. , Smith said. “This is a resource that’s not available, at least at such a comprehensive level, in other associations out there.” 

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