Homeowners and small contractors have a new option when they need to rent, purchase or service heavy equipment or home and lawn tools.

American Rental Equipment recently opened a branch on Mahoning Drive East in Mahoning Township. The company is owned by Michael Piechota, who also owns the original American Rental Equipment in Allentown.

"We found that a lot of people from this area were needing rentals," said Piechota, who noted that it was often cost-prohibitive to transport rental equipment from Allentown to our area.

"No one knew where to go. People were traveling 20 to 30 miles to get rental equipment," he said. "This store is not far from Tamaqua, Jim Thorpe, Coaldale. Now we're here and can service these areas."

Piechota began searching for a store location and found the Mahoning building in September. He has ties to the area, with family members living in Bowmanstown and Mahoning Township.

As a former truck garage, the building has plenty of space to house rental and retail equipment and a well-stocked hardware area, as well as room for a repair shop.

"We're not just a rental company," he added. "We're also a sales and service company. We have all of the things you would need for any project. They can get their rental item, plus all of the small things they might need at one stop."

Rental items range from Bobcat excavators and backhoes to tile saws, pressure washers, stump grinders, chippers and lawn equipment. They also rent party equipment, including hot dog rollers, bounce houses, folding tables and chairs, and cotton candy and popcorn machines.

The store sells many of the same products that are offered as rentals. For example, they are a dealer for Ferris and BigDog zero-turn mowers. Ferris mowers are best known for their full suspension system, which allows for a smoother ride while mowing.

"It kind of rides like a car," said Piechota. "It has shocks and springs, so you're not beating yourself up while you cut your grass."

This winter, American Rental Equipment also plans to sell and repair snow plows and snow removal equipment. They also sell a large selection of trailer equipment, from lights to hitches, and offer trailer repair services.

"This store is here for everyone's use. It's like an old-time hardware store, where there is a person behind the counter that you actually know and who can help you find what you need," he added.

The Allentown store remains open overnight during snow storms to assist homeowners and plow drivers in need of supplies or repair items. Piechota plans to continue this at the Mahoning store. He also plans to have extended hours during summer storms and power outages, when area residents are more likely to need generators and household tools to recover from storm damage.

"It doesn't matter if it's a winter storm or a summer storm we'll be here," he said.

American Rental Equipment is located at 511 Mahoning Drive East, Lehighton. The store is currently open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, but expanded weekday hours are planned.

For more information call (570) 818-4450 or go to www.americanrentalequipment.com.