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Finding new ways of thinking

By Brock Huffstutler

December 12, 2023

Darrick Farr, of A-1 Party & Event Rental, Columbia, Mo. (left) with industry peers from New Jersey at the YPN Conference

Darrick Farr, of A-1 Party & Event Rental, Columbia, Mo. (left) with industry peers from New Jersey at the YPN Conference

The American Rental Association (ARA) recently held its annual Women in Rental and Young Professional Network (YPN) conferences in Clearwater Beach, Fla. Women in Rental took place from Oct. 23-24, and the YPN Conference followed from Oct. 25-26. Both conferences were sold out, and attendees spent two days focused on networking and professional development with their rental peers.

See what some of the attendees who traveled from parts of the Midwest — ARA’s Region Six — had to say about the events.

Dillon Bathke, Rent-All, found something ‘so useful’

Bathke, an equipment sales specialist with Rent-All, Sioux Center, Iowa, attended the YPN Conference. He says his favorite part of the event was the keynote speaker, James Taylor, and his presentation, “Supercreativity™: Augmenting Human Creativity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.

“James had an interesting approach to the benefits of creative thinking and how doing so can directly impact the way we resolve issues or problems in our businesses,” Bathke says. “He spoke on how AI [artificial intelligence] can assist in creative thinking and the possibilities it brings to our industry. A big reason why this seminar was so useful is being able to implement the strategies and ideas into our everyday problems right away.”

Amanda Hemphill, CERP, General Rental Center, found ‘new ways of thinking’

Women in Rental Conference participant Hemphill, from General Rental Center, Springfield, Mo., felt the event, in a word, was “Amazing. It was very well-planned, kept us busy talking and networking with the other people there. The speaker was excellent, and I took away several great ideas and new ways of thinking to help in both my private and business life,” she says.

“I wanted to be a part of a conference that really spoke to me about being a woman in rental,” Hemphill says of her motivation for attending. “I wanted to be in a room of women who wanted to be there and were ready to talk about the issues, challenges and blessings of being in this amazing industry.”

Amanda Hemphill, left, with other attendees from across ARA's Region Six at the Women in Rental Conference

Amanda Hemphill, left, with other attendees from across ARA’s Region Six at the Women in Rental Conference

Hemphill says that while she enjoyed all aspects of the conference, her favorite part was probably the keynote speaker, Sara Ross, who delivered her program, “Activate Your Aliveness Factor.”

“The speaker was amazing, probably one of the best I have ever heard,” Hemphill says. “Sara’s talk helped me recognize when I’m feeling like I’m in that crazy zone of stress and gave me the tools to help recognize it and how to break out of it. I’ve been living in that zone for the past year, especially the past two months with busy season going on, and you get to a point when you think that’s ‘normal.’ It’s really not. Having the tools to recognize that is very valuable.”

Of the ARA Women in Rental initiative overall, Hemphill says, “I love it. In a male-dominated industry, it’s nice to have the opportunity to connect with women in the industry, talk about those issues that affect us, the jobs available and the challenges that go with them. Someday, we hopefully will not need a women’s initiative, but it’s very nice to have it now!”

Rachel O’Brien, ECP-SM/MT, J&F Reddy Rents, says it was ‘the best one yet’

O’Brien, president of J&F Reddy Rents, St. Louis Park, Minn., has been to Women in Rental Conferences in the past and says this year’s was “the best one yet. I love attending to meet successful women in the rental industry, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new people. The networking is my favorite part of these events.”

Rachel O’Brien, left, networks at the conference

Rachel O’Brien, left, networks at the conference. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Fitzgerald)

O’Brien says Ross’s keynote presentation was timely. “It really hit home after the nonstop summer I had,” she says. “Her whole message of self-care and focusing on family as well as business applied to all of us. She had several great tips for empowering your team. I’ve already been putting them into practice.”

“I love going to these conferences because they are a business retreat for me,” O’Brien says. “It’s a way to think about your business in a new way. There’s a wonderful group of women to talk with, ask questions and have some fun. The evening parties are the best and I love boating — I think the boat cruise was the best closing party to date. It was a wonderful relaxing evening with everyone together and great music!”

ARA’s focus on career development for women means a lot to O’Brien.

“I finished the RentalU Women in Rental Career Development Program. It was great information for improving my business and team. It covers many timely topics women are dealing with in our careers and businesses,” she says.

Jody Kerr, Toro, loves ‘having a large circle’ of peers
Jody Kerr, center, and other conference attendees take part in a Clearwater Beach clean-up activity

Jody Kerr, center, and other conference attendees take part in a Clearwater Beach clean-up activity. (Photo courtesy of Jody Kerr)

Kerr, key account manager with Toro, Bloomington, Minn., says she loves the format of the Women in Rental Conferences.

“There is time dedicated to education but also a lot of time to catch up and network with our Women in Rental peers. I love that I meet one or two new women each year. I love having a large circle of women peers in the industry,” Kerr says.

Kerr says the conference is important because “I think there are many of us that look forward to seeing our friends each year and spending time with them that we just normally wouldn’t be able to do, even at The ARA Show™.”

“We (Toro) love being a sponsor of this event. It’s very important to us,” Kerr says.

Anna Clark-Insco, Billy Goat, ‘didn’t want to miss it’

As a member of ARA’s Women in Rental Committee, Clark-Insco, senior manager, business planning and sales administration with Billy Goat, Lee’s Summit, Mo., was especially keen to see the conference be successful. She wasn’t disappointed.

“I thought it was a wonderful event with excellent networking opportunities in a beautiful place,” she says, adding that “I had the privilege of attending last year and got so much out of it, I didn’t want to miss it this year.”

“Sara Ross was extremely helpful for me. I’ve already adopted some of her tips and tricks in disconnecting from work and spending time doing things that recharge me,” says Clark-Insco of what she took away from the keynote speaker.

Like several other attendees, Clark-Insco’s favorite part of the event involved beach time. “My favorite part was dinner on the beach where we could visit and watch the beautiful sunset,” she says.