Hitting a 1,000th Air Compressor Milestone
Family-owned and -operated since 1931, Washington Air Compressor Rental Co. is much more than air compressors
Since 1931, the Stecklein family has been running Washington Air Compressor Rental Co. (Washington Air), providing quality products for sale and rental, with and without operators, and reliable services for its customers’ needs. With the third generation managing the operations, the family-owned and -operated business specializes in rental equipment, operator rentals, new and used equipment, expert service, and parts and supplies with on-site delivery available 24/7, 365 days a year.
One Thousand and Counting
This year, Washington Air Compressor Rental Co. is celebrating an incredible milestone, having transferred its 1,000th Doosan air compressor from inventory to the rental fleet since Washington Air’s founding nearly 90 years ago. The unit was rented out to Celtic Demolition, who is demolishing the Baltimore City Detention Center (BCDC, formerly known as the Baltimore City Jail), a state facility since July 1991. Washington Air is proud to be a Doosan Dealer since 1982 and to have contributed to a project with a history dating back to 1859 when the jail opened.
Unusual Beginnings Result in Decades of Success
Albert E. Stecklein Sr. started the business in D.C., having been an auto mechanic by trade back at the time in the late 1920s. He established an air compressor equipment rental business by a fluke, having unexpectedly come into ownership of a few pieces of equipment when a customer who would use Albert Sr.’s garage left town and “paid” his rent with several air compressors.
Stephen Stecklein, one of the current Owners as well as the company’s Executive Vice President and CEO, says of his grandfather: “He had the novel idea of putting one of the compressors on a Coca-Cola truck, basically creating one of the first air compressor trucks in the area. And then he just started renting out the tools that were associated with them. He established the business back then with Schramm air compressors, and he became a Schramm dealer.”
Washington Air Compressor Rental worked directly with Schramm through the 1970s, and then started to diversify more into other equipment over the next couple of decades. Much of the business then was operator-based, but the company also rented and sold the tools, such as air tools, air pumps and air saws.
The company has grown exponentially over the years, now with four locations (one in D.C., two in Maryland and one in Virginia) and close to 70 employees. Stephen shares his pride in the history and current accomplishments of this unique family business. He says, “Washington Air Compressor Rental Co. is rich with tradition and a deep commitment to serving our customers. We’re dedicated to providing quality products and we represent many of the best lines in the business for both rental and sale. As the D.C. metro area has grown, so has our company. Not only are we one of the oldest rental companies in the United States, we are also one of the largest independently owned and operated in the area. Our goal today, as it’s always been, is to provide you with a complete solution to your equipment needs.”
The union company operates year-round even during the quieter winter months where rentals of heaters, sales of propane and supplying snow removal equipment become more prevalent.
A Legacy of Experience and Service
Steve’s brothers are all Co-Owners of the company, each providing distinct talents and skill sets. Albert III is Vice President, handling credit and collections; Brian is a Branch Manager; and Kevin is in sales. Their father, Albert Stecklein Jr., who still serves as President, has been their mentor in the business and has passed along not only his experience but also his pride in maintaining excellence in service and quality.
As the industry evolves and Washington Air’s customer base increasingly becomes subcontractors, Washington Air has evolved, too, meeting the challenge. Stephen says, “It’s about having boots on the ground and being familiar with projects and what the needs are of the various trades and contractors in charge of those projects. We’ve been able to develop an understanding of how each company works. Plus, since we’re older than everyone else in the industry, we have that added level of expertise. We’re blessed with long-term employees who pass along their knowledge.”
As to what gives Washington Air its greatest edge, Stephen remarks that taking care of their employees and customers has always been the main focus, adding, “It’s really that prompt service and being able to quickly respond and assist our customers in whatever project they’re working on. And not having downtime. We also have operators on our team, and that really sets us apart from a lot of the national rental companies.”