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Company Really Does Rent All

Endwell firm lends for weddings and construction sites

By Charles Erickson, Correspondent


ENDWELL -- Six days a week the telephone seems to ring every few minutes inside the cluttered office at 3303 E. Main St. At the other end of the line is usually a person interested in temporarily possessing an item.


The owners of Floyd's Rent-All understand how the explicit inclusiveness of their company's name invites queries from the inconvenienced and the curious.


"We had someone that wanted to rent a casket," said co-owner Joan Simons, with a laugh. The caller wasn't planning to use it for a super-saver funeral but as a Halloween prop.


"We get calls for cherry pickers, backhoes," said Nancy Apalovich, Joan's sister and business partner. "But we haven't gotten into that stuff yet. It's on our shopping list."


Even without any mortuary or heavy earth-moving machines available for rent, the sibling owners reported that business at Floyd's is doing very well.


All the inventory belongs to one of two segments: equipment or celebrations.


Rug shampooers, floor sanders, sheetrock jacks and other hardware are some of the top equipment rentals. Tents, tables, chairs, dishes, linens and other pieces are let out for parties and gatherings.


The sisters, the only children of Floyd and Alice Balcom, were little girls when their father began Floyd's Rent-All at this location in 1961. They've been around tools and machines for as long as they can remember.


"I'd rather go to a hardware store than a clothing store," Simons said.


Apalovich said, "We worked right along with him. We used to go on deliveries at night. He didn't have any help. He did it all himself."


There are 10 employees now, with more taken on during the summer. This has allowed the owners to expand the roster of rentable products beyond what was offered by their father, who died in 1991.


Goods are picked up in Endwell, or delivered -- usually to places no more than 30 or 40 minutes away. Walk-in rental transactions are the largest segment, according to the sisters, and most renters are consumers, not contractors.


June, July and August are the busiest months at Floyd's, and wedding receptions are responsible for much of the seasonal increase in trade.


"We've got quite a supply of colored linen," Apalovich said. "When I got married, we had paper on the tables. Now, today, people want linens and china."


After the kisses, meals and dancing, the rented plates, dishes and glasses are brought back here and put through an industrial washer. Linens are laundered and pressed on Floyd's own equipment.


A popular piece of equipment rented at Floyd's, an appliance dolly, costs a lessee $8.50 a day.


Whether it is a limousine, wood-chipper or tent, the goal of any rental business is to bring in revenues that surpass the amount spent to buy the item. The more something is rented, the faster the business recoups the initial outlay.


Unlike car and truck rental companies, however, Floyd's Rent-All does not sell its used stock but continues to rent pieces until they can be borrowed no more.


"If we buy new, we try to stick with the same model and use the old one for parts," Simons said.


The sisters once collected a deposit from the renters of hardware, but ended the practice after it was found to be too much of a paperwork hassle.


Some customers have to be hounded or threatened with police action to return an item, but there are relatively few absconders.


"It's a small percentage," Apalovich said. "We couldn't be in business if it wasn't."


Inventory control resembles that of a library. The owners need to know what they have in stock, what's been borrowed, who has it and when it's due in. For a company that rents dozens of items, it is a challenge.


"The computer is a big part of helping us to make sure the stuff comes back," Simons said.


As the sisters spoke about the future of their business, how they hope to add rental products and how they still get excited by the arrival of new merchandise, the front-desk phone rang again. It was the middle of a Saturday afternoon. An employee answered, greeted and listened.


"Yes, we have those," the woman said. This meant the caller wasn't inquiring about renting a casket, a boom truck or a bucket loader. Perhaps they needed an engine hoist, some helium tanks, a chocolate fountain or an advertising sign.


The caller had one final question and received the standard reply: "We're open till five."