Sweeping the American Midwest: 30 Years in Sanitation Equipment

RNOW, Inc.
Written by Pauline Muller

While the sparkling cities of the United States may be the envy of many municipalities and citizens around the world, the cleanliness can often be tougher to achieve than many people may realize. That is because basic sanitation and service delivery partially hinge on specialized heavy-duty vehicles that make it possible to remove refuse and keep a general sense of order in urban areas. In North America, standards are high as droves of committed residents work day and night to keep it that way.

The demand for quality municipal equipment continues to grow but finding reputable sales partners from which to buy these service vehicles can be difficult at times. However, buyers in the market for municipal equipment know who to call for top quality and customer service. RNOW is a family-owned-and-run industry leader in quality, heavy-duty, civil sanitation vehicles typically used by municipalities, county governments, and private contractors.

RNOW’s list of new and used vehicles available for sale or rent includes garbage, recycling, and hook-lift trucks as well as street sweepers, combination sewer-jetters, hydro excavators, and sewer inspection equipment, to name but a few. Based in West Allis, Wisconsin, it also offers customers a parts division and service center with three decades of service excellence across the Midwest, including the states of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, and beyond.

Over the years, RNOW has served happy customers from all over Wisconsin and the Midwest, including the City of Green Bay, the City of Chicago, and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, and thanks to its dedication and superb service, the company is growing fast.

“We believe this to be a relationship-based business. We consider our customers and our vendors as real partners. They’re people we rely on, and they rely on us. For us, it’s about more than commercial interaction,” says President Steve Krall. “It goes deeper than that. They become friends. We develop relationships,” he says.

“If our customers and vendors are successful, we’re going to be successful,” he continues. Krall is clear that the caliber of the company’s vendors has steered it toward its current growth and success and will continue to do so.

Part of this is that RNOW goes to great lengths to understand what its clients need from their equipment. The company then goes about pairing clients with the right vehicles for the job. Some clients need automated collection vehicles; others do not. Some may need mechanical street sweepers, while others may find that air is better for their application and region. To create these custom solutions, the company collaborates with a wide range of fabricators to ensure that its clients always have the best range of quality equipment and possibilities at their disposal.

The company’s sales service includes hauling broken equipment to its dedicated service facility for repair, and as it carries a large selection of parts, any issues are fixed quickly. Some of the many brands carried by the company’s parts division include Ampliroll, Diamondback Products, Labrie, Leach, Loadmaster, Proteus, Schwarze, Super Products, and Wittke.

The company recently introduced a new financing service where prospective buyers can apply for vehicle leases. This addition is proving to be what many of its customers need to pull them through some of their projects on budget and on schedule, a saving grace for many.

Touching on the realities and results of supply chain challenges driven by the COVID-19 crisis, Krall is humorous yet brutally realistic. “I don’t know if anybody has overcome supply chain issues,” he laughs, highlighting how the flow of parts and products remains “flipped on its head.” The struggle is real but so too is the team’s commitment to mitigating the ill effects of the pandemic on local commerce.

RNOW is a loyal member of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), whose guidelines and best practices help the company to remain on top of its game and in line with the latest industry standards and laws. “SWANA’S influence forces our manufacturers to meet the needs of what the SWANA members want, in other words, our customers and end users. The collaboration that comes out of SWANA gives our end users something to strive for,” Krall says. SWANA sets the bar, and by answering the needs that result from its guidelines RNOW answers the demands of its customers.

The company was founded by Krall’s father Dan Krall in 1980 when he set out to create a hydraulic rebuilding firm and service center. “Some of his largest customers at the time were waste haulers. My father… partnered up with a man in garbage truck sales in the late eighties who did not have a service center,” Krall says.

Dan Krall identified the market need and set to work rebuilding and servicing garbage trucks. Krall, Senior then hired garbage truck salesmen. In 1992, RNOW, Inc., standing for Refuse and Recycling Needs of Wisconsin, was born. The company split from the hydraulic rebuilding operation to focus entirely on sales and service. Steve Krall joined his father in the business in 1996, taking charge of operations and leading the firm.

When it comes to the RNOW team of sixteen, Krall could not be prouder. He is, without a shadow of a doubt, an appreciative leader. “I have to say I am truly blessed because I have had so many good people over the years. We have a very good group of people who work with us. It is awesome. Part of our growth is in the consistency of [our] people. They are all unique people with unique skills, and I want them all to be successful too,” he says.

Employees know that the health and strength of our relationships with others are what really matters. Relationships “are what define you. Your family and work life are the people. In the end, nobody is going to care about what you did. People are going to remember the times together,” says Krall.

Thirty years later, many people have devoted entire careers to RNOW and its staff turnover rate remains as low as ever. Being charitable is another priority here, as the company donates to several good causes annually. The Shrine Circus, the Special Olympics, and several veteran organizations are just a few of its beneficiaries.

The team’s commitment to its customers is second to none. Some of its most longstanding customers “have continued to work with us. Everybody in equipment knows that this stuff is going to break; if we had a failure with them, they came back anyway because we took care of the failure. That is a source of great pride,” Krall says.

Rolling ahead, RNOW’s goal is to remain known for being the company of choice in the municipal equipment market rather than the largest and paying its staff even better than it currently does. Achieving these goals will be done by keeping its size manageable and retaining its family-oriented authenticity.

For Krall, growth beyond what can be comfortably managed is illogical, especially in terms of taking care of customers and vendor relationships to the degree to which they have become accustomed. After all, there are not that many companies that have retained customers for over thirty years, and that says a lot about this team’s aim to please.

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