Meet Expressway Cinema Rentals
With a tagline of “Rent. Hire. Create.”, Expressway is “a provider of expert lighting and camera support for the creative community.” Under the surface, however, Expressway has a deeper mission to help grow production infrastructure in smaller markets. Expressway works with local film commissions to build robust production operations. And with its program to support students, the company is empowering the next generation of creatives.
“From the start, we wanted to build something greater than a production rental company,” said General Manager, John Baumgartner. “Our founders saw an opportunity to create a company that had immediate impact and left a lasting legacy.”
Expressway was founded in 2010, and for its first eight years operated with a custom in-house management solution. As the company grew out of its 14-foot trailer and into a full-service rental house fueling major productions, the backend was stretched beyond its capabilities. While it was difficult to imagine abandoning the nearly decade-long investment, after seeing Flex at NAB in 2018, management knew it was time to make the move.
“Our plan was to give ourselves plenty of time to implement the system,” John laughed. “But as we discovered the power Flex gave us to overhaul our infrastructure, we not only moved up our implementation timeline, but also decided to expand into a new market.”
Flex allowed Expressway to double its inventory nearly seamlessly while implementing the new system. And if two locations are possible--it allows the company to consider the possibility of a third without serious complexities. “Flex has helped us broaden our ambitions.”
Upon implementing Flex, John said Expressway was instantly aware of the effect the platform had on the company’s operations. Prior to Flex John often went to bed worrying if everything was on the truck. And if a customer called to say something was missing from the order, John’s team couldn’t always track whether the missing asset was included or not.
“We always want to make our clients happy. We lost thousands of dollars --even when we knew we were in the right.” That’s now an issue of the past. Flex allowed Expressway’s rental agents to better show what was provided in each order, and also take responsibility if an asset was missing. “Before Flex, we fielded a few complaints per month. Now, maybe we get one per quarter.”John added, “I couldn't sleep when I wasn’t 100% sure that an order was on a truck. Flex has given me peace of mind.”
With two locations and a third coming soon serving several mid-sized markets in the northeast, and with more than 20,000 assets to track, Expressway relies heavily on Flex’s ability to manage conflicts. “We aren’t sending out 50 or 100 of the same thing. Everything we do is ala carte. I can’t imagine a world where we’re as successful without Flex. I don’t want to remember the old days of paper and pen.”
Still, the most unexpected Flex advantage isn’t about assets--it’s about people. John explained that by using Flex, the learning curve has shortened. New employees no longer need years of prior experience and can become effective in days instead of weeks or months. This allows Expressway to hire, train, and promote people more quickly. “Flex allows us to get our people up to speed faster, which creates company growth, and more importantly, career growth for our employees. Flex is actually helping us create more jobs, which circles directly back out to our mission to help build the production ecosystem in the markets we serve.”
Would John and Expressway recommend Flex to others? “Absolutely. The way we operate would be impossible without Flex. And beyond the actual product, the customer service and support levels are far beyond what I could have imagined. Because we are also in the customer service business, I’m especially impressed by the near-immediate responses I consistently receive.”
A final note: When we spoke with John, our Zoom was interrupted for a minute. “Sorry,” he explained, “we’re part of the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ reboot.” We asked him to do his best Carlton dance impression. Sadly he declined.
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