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Insights - Jan 11, 2018

Small-business profile: AnyQuip

The Calgary firm’s innovative peer-to-peer model helps pricey construction equipment change hands

The online-sharing economy that gave way to Airbnb and Uber has – in Canada, anyway – now moved beyond hotels and taxis to include expensive, heavy construction equipment. And AnyQuip is leading the way.

The Calgary-based firm is a marketplace made up of equipment owners looking to offset usage dips for machinery such as wheel loaders and excavators, and the contractors who are in temporary need of them. AnyQuip brings formal legality, affordability and security to deals that used to happen on an ad-hoc basis.

“We have 13,000 rental listings on our site so far, and just finished our first full construction season,” says company President Jennifer Lussier. “Demand has been really strong. Now everyone is looking for rock trucks for mining in northern Alberta.”

AnyQuip was the brainchild of heavy-equipment contractor Steve Skiba, who would describe equipment sitting idle during the off-season as “million-dollar paperweights.” To help execute his peer-to-peer idea, he recruited software entrepreneur Clark Johansson and marketing expert Lussier. The trio launched AnyQuip in June 2016. “Steve had the idea, Clark was the tech and I was the window dressing,” says Lussier with a laugh.

Lussier then took over the company’s top spot that September, as Skiba and Johansson found they couldn’t give AnyQuip the focus it needed while also running their other businesses. “I’ve been building the brand from the start, so it made sense to align with one person in the top spot,” explains Lussier. “They are still involved in a strategic-advisory capacity, but I am running the day to day.”

In addition to growing its listings across 174 different equipment types, AnyQuip has also doubled its membership base since March 2017. Customers work in a variety of industries, from civil and oilfield construction to landscaping and agriculture, and AnyQuip’s geographic footprint extends to all of Western Canada. Lussier says the plan is to soon launch in Ontario, where the company has been building up supply.

“We’ve been focusing on our backyard for now, because with every rental we’ve been learning something new, and adjusting and iterating our platform,” she says.

For instance, the company has been signing on large enterprise clients, and their procurement process involves many moving parts. “To make a rental happen typically involves the coordination of as many as five different people,” Lussier explains. “So, we’re looking to understand how the procurement process works on a bigger scale, and streamline our process to match.”

Equipment owners and contractors typically become aware of the company through its paid search campaigns, word of mouth or ads with various industry associations. And mobile devices allow Lussier and a small, devoted sales team to ensure they keep themselves available when those customers come calling. “Some people go on the rental platform and don’t need a conversation,” she explains, “but many others want a conversation, and so we make sure we are accessible.”

In addition to their reliance on mobile technology, the fact that their work often takes them on the road means the AnyQuip team also uses a collaboration-platform ”as an efficient way to collaborate remotely.”

And while technology is at the heart of its platform, Lussier credits AnyQuip’s growth to relationship building. “That has been a big learning,” she says. “We thought everyone would book online, but AnyQuip is ultimately a relationship business and that was always part of our brand. We’re the contractor for the contractor.”