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ARA of Montana kicks off 2023 with annual meeting

By Brock Huffstutler

February 7, 2023

ARA of MontanaThe Doubletree by Hilton Missoula-Edgewater in Missoula, Mont., was the host location for the annual ARA of Montana state-of-the-state member meeting held Jan. 26-27.

The state-of-the-state meeting has come to be known as a gathering chock full of informative education, peer networking and fun, and this year’s event didn’t disappoint.

The 2023 winter getaway event featured three special guest speakers:

  • Lee Ann Piano, a John Maxwell-certified speaker, trainer, coach and empowerment expert, who delivered a session packed with strategies to achieve personal and professional success, including tools, techniques and concepts to reach next-level performance, and how to hire, inspire and retain valuable team players.
  • Detective Sgt. James Dietz, Michigan State Police – Special Investigations Division, who shared in-depth strategies to thwart equipment rental thieves and fraudsters.
  • James Auerbach, American Rental Association (ARA) vice president, event segment and industry workforce development, who shared “ARA Resources That Will Directly Benefit Your Business.”

Megan Lacy, store manager, RDO Equipment Co., Missoula, Mont., who serves as ARA of Montana secretary, had several takeaways from the event. For example, she describes Det. Sgt. Dietz’s presentation as “very insightful — he gave lots of good tips on red flags we might see when nefarious ‘renters’ come to our stores with the intention of stealing equipment. I learned several new things to look for and train my staff to watch for when getting information from a new customer. He stated very well that when one of us is the victim of crime, it has a negative impact on all of us in the industry and we can work together to help prevent that from happening.”

ARA of Montana meeting attendees

Presenters Lee Ann Piano (left) and Det. Sgt. James Dietz (second from left) visit with ARA of Montana members

Carson Sneed, co-owner, Big Sky Rents, Kalispell, Mont., and ARA of Montana treasurer, also got a lot of value out of the event’s education and networking. “Lee Ann was great. Her positive and interactive presentation really pulls people out of their element. She is very good at getting the room engaged and talking among each other. Her ‘team-builders’ and ‘team-busters’ exercises are a great way to get your employees engaged and locked into the culture at your store,” he says.

In addition to the theft-prevention education, attendees also had the opportunity to enjoy a tour of Montgomery Distillery along with a tasting.

Lacy says the overall event was beneficial in solidifying the common threads those in the industry share. “I can really see the value in networking and building relationships with others in the industry so we can view them as allies rather than competitors,” she says.

Sneed also feels the getaway was terrific, even if Montana’s January weather was less so.

“The event was great although the weather was not so cooperative,” he says. “But we still had a strong number and quite the different crowd. Members I’ve never met before showed up, so that was great. Member engagement is key to any association and event.”