Interview: Stefan Ponea on his return with Omnirent

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Stefan Ponea is returning to the equipment rental business in Romania and it is not surprising to hear that he is taking a high-tech approach.

Always a pioneer in rental IT – he was tracking his fleet and the real-time operations of his depots way before it became the norm – Ponea’s new Omnirent business will operate only with “digital savvy customers” who will rent through their mobile devices.

Stefan Ponea, CEO of Omnirent. Omnirent founder and CEO, Stefan Ponea. (Photo: Omnirent)

Ponea is a well-known figure in Europe’s rental scene having built his Industrial Access business into the market leader in Romania before selling to Mateco in 2016. He stayed with the company until March last year.

Having completed the non-compete period, during which he worked at a waste management company and as an IT consultant, Ponea is now concentrating on Omnirent.

“I won’t be targeting market share”, he says, “but only working with digital savvy customers. My target is to have customers who can do business with me in 5 minutes or less, and who share my values.

“Customers who user the power of technology, without bureaucratic systems, but based on one-to-one relationships with decision makers.”

By his own admission, the digital only strategy will limit his market - he tells IRN that this customer base may represent just 5% to 7.5% of the Romanian market.

“I strongly believe that there is a new generation of people who like a simpler life – not more complicated”, he tells IRN. “It is not about lowering prices, it’s about enjoying doing business with people who share the same values.”

AI-based rental management
Ponea built his own rental management software system with Industrial Access but says Omnirent will use a new AI-based system that he has created from scratch, and it will incorporate a customer App called MyOmni.

“Basically, you will do business with your phone or watch, whatever you use, and it won’t be dependent on the brand of phone”, says Ponea.

He says he won’t be rewriting the basics of rental, but nevertheless believes that technology, and an outsourcing model that will see him use sub-contracted drivers and workshops, will allow him to operate a lean business, with around four staff at the head office in Bucharest.

Ponea has begun talking to OEMs about supplying equipment, with aerial platforms, telehandlers and industrial forklift trucks being among the first target machines. He will also cross-hire from rental partners in Romania.

“This will not be a business built on turnover, but profit”, he says, “I have agreements with cross-rental companies for bigger self-propelled booms and forklifts. And I can cross-rent from their depots.”

He says the initial focus will be on Bucharest, which is the biggest rental market in Romania by a large margin; “I don’t intend to move outside of Bucharest in the first year, except for long-term contracts.”

Ponea prefers not to discuss the past and is instead intent on growing Omnirent in a certain way; “I’m not looking to go mainstream, but to create a niche where people share the same values.

“If you manage to create some kind of positive environment, it’s one of the parts of life that can give you a sense of peace.”


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Ollie Hodges Publisher Tel: +44 (0)1892 786253 E-mail: [email protected]
Lewis Tyler
Lewis Tyler Editor Tel: 44 (0)1892 786285 E-mail: [email protected]