Metro Rental

Kill Devil Hills, NC

First in Resiliency

Rob Waddington took over his family’s tool rental business in the Outer Banks in the late ’90s at 28 years old. “When my dad decided to have me take over the business,” Waddington said, “the finance people were like, ‘Are you out of your mind?’ But this one company believed in me, and they loaned me thirty grand. And that was the start.” Business was not always easy, and Waddington had to pivot during the 2008 financial crisis. Construction projects dried up, so he refocused on event rentals. “I bought whatever I could in party goods and just started capitalizing on that and liquidating my tools, licking my wounds, and moving on to what we’re doing now.”

Keeping up With Change

But keeping up with the changing economy during the recession proved to be more challenging than Waddington had expected. He fell behind on his sales tax payments and came close to losing everything. “Without money you don’t have a business. So it’s just trying to keep that balance and trying to manage it that’s always a bit challenging. There’s no handbook on that.”

Business Rescue

A banker friend suggested Waddington call Matthew Byrne with the SBTDC to see if he could help Metro Rental’s bottom line. “I just called him up and it was like [the TV show] Bar Rescue,” Waddington said. Byrne helped him secure financing on his building, held him accountable, and acted as a sounding board for big decisions. “I call Matt whenever I decide to buy something . . . it’s always nice to hear [a professional opinion].” Waddington emphasized the importance of staying in touch with your advisors and financial partners. “If you keep open lines of communication, then a lot of things will come through.”

A Wide Range of Knowledge

Over the years, the SBTDC has provided a variety of services to Waddington and Metro Rental, including financial analysis, business valuation, and resources for hiring new employees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the SBTDC worked with Waddington to secure a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, ensuring he stayed in business. Waddington and Metro Rental have provided services for a wide range of clients, including the U.S. Coast Guard. With the help of government contracting counselor Joel Guge, he plans to set up his System for Award Management (SAM) Registration down the road to allow him to take on larger contracts. In the time since Waddington began working with the SBTDC, his sales have nearly doubled, and he’s added three full time employees.

“The SBTDC has helped with the growth aspect and with the financing and everything. It’s like an engine, it’s all moving parts.”

Room for Growth

Now, Metro Rental is thriving, and there’s room for additional growth. “We’re in an awesome market and I’m grateful for that. That’s what enabled us to expand, but with Matt helping me it all works together to where I can get the funding or the advice,” Waddington said. He’s looking at adding storage space to contain his large inventory, which itself continues to expand. “My biggest thing is space right now. So that’s where my growth is needed. I can buy the stuff all day long and rent it. That’s not a problem. I just need somewhere to put it.”

Looking Back

As he looks back on his early years running Metro Rental, Rob Waddington, now with decades of experience, has some advice for new business owners: “Don’t stand down. Don’t be scared to speak your mind.” As a new business owner, contractors often tried to intimidate him, but he always learned the most when he followed his instincts and made his own mistakes. “Mistakes happen in all businesses. It depends on how fast you correct those mistakes.”

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