New businesses can take anywhere from months to years to open.
In the case of the new Superior Rents in Wichita, it was more like a dizzying few weeks.
“We had to get in there really quick,” owner Steve Wohnoutka says of opening where BlueLine Rental was at 7422 W. 21st St. near 21st and Ridge Road.
“We thought another rental company was going to snatch it up.”
Never miss a local story.
Wohnoutka and his brother, Dan, started their Springfield, Mo.-based tool and equipment rental company in 2005 and had three locations, including in Joplin, Mo., before opening their fourth in Wichita.
“We were looking to grow closer to home,” Steve Wohnoutka says.
“This unique opportunity is what brought us to Wichita,” he says. “Eight weeks ago I had no idea this was coming up.”
In May, within about a half an hour of BlueLine shutting its doors, Wohnoutka says he heard the news.
“Word gets around really quick in the rental industry.”
He says he saw an opportunity to open immediately, particularly with the help of former BlueLine employees.
“We didn’t want to let it pass by.”
R-Quip had been in the 7,000-square-foot space before BlueLine.
“What attracted us to it was its past history as a rental store that’s very similar to ours,” Wohnoutka says.
He says in addition to having big tractors and forklifts, Superior Rents also has jack hammers, drills and home and yard equipment. He says the broader fleet selection has more of an emphasis on smaller contractors and do-it-yourself types.
“We do have a wider variety of smaller tools.”
In addition, Wohnoutka says Superior Rents also offers instruction for customers on projects and using tools.
“The staff at the store has to know what they need and how to use it – be able to explain it to them,” he says.
“That’s one of the hardest things of expanding a rental store like ours,” he says of having trained staff. “In this case, they were there.”
Still, he says, “I just packed this in on such a short time frame.”
Wohnoutka says everyone in the company “pitched in and did something that wasn’t their normal role. That’s how it got done.”
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve done in the business. … It’s a whole new chapter.”
He says he would do it again if a similar opportunity comes up.
“We will try to swoop in and pick them up again.”
Wohnoutka won’t necessarily wait for another company to close shop first.
“We’ve now gone out and done a location that has to stand on its own,” he says of opening far from home.
“This is now kind of like the cookie cutter. It will open the door to do other expansions. That’s why it’s … so exciting,” he says.
“Now we know we can do it.”