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Finding your people in the perfect setting

By Brock Huffstutler

December 12, 2023

Attendees from L & A Tent Rentals, Trenton, N.J., (center and right) mingle with an industry peer from Missouri at the 2023 YPN conference, Clearwater Beach, Fla.

Attendees from L & A Tent Rentals, Trenton, N.J., (center and right) mingle with an industry peer from Missouri at the 2023 YPN Conference, Clearwater Beach, Fla.

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 the mid-Atlantic — ARA’s Region Two — had to say about the events.

Steve Creamer, ABC Rental Center, got ‘so many valuable connections’

Creamer, manager with ABC Rental Center, Rosedale, Md., who also serves as ARA of Maryland president, attended the YPN Conference and says the experience confirmed his opinion that ARA “consistently orchestrates exceptional events that foster so many valuable connections amongst industry professionals.”

Activities at the YPN Conference included networking receptions, free time to explore Clearwater Beach’s coastal area and keynote speaker, James Taylor, who delivered his presentation, “Supercreativity™: Augmenting Human Creativity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.”

Whether you attended this conference or not, just being a part of the YPN is valuable, according to Creamer. “The YPN program, in and of itself, stands as an indispensable resource, teeming with opportunities waiting to be taken advantage of,” he says. “Whether it be at a conference like this one or an event at The ARA Show™, I always recommend attending if you have the chance. It is one of the things that gets you excited to be a part of this industry.”

Deborah Clager, Rental Time, found a place to ‘find your people’

Clager, Rental Time, Gibsonia, Pa., president, participated in the Women in Rental Conference.

“I loved the event,” she says, adding that she chose to make the trip because she wanted to “connect with other women who understand the uniqueness of the rental world.”

Clager attended the 2022 Women in Rental Conference that was held in Scottsdale, Ariz., and says the opportunity to see familiar faces was a big part of what drew her to this year’s outing. “My favorite part of this year’s conference was seeing friends I made in Scottsdale last year — and laying on the beach. I really needed the break!” she says.

Sara Ross, who delivered her presentation, “Activate Your Aliveness Factor,” in front of the Women in Rental group, was “so inspirational,” Clager says. “I related to what she was saying and can hopefully use inspiration from her to get out of survival mode.”

Russ Hicks of AAA Party Rentals, Laurel, Md. (left) with rental professionals from around the U.S. at the conference.

Russ Hicks of AAA Party Rentals, Laurel, Md. (left) with rental professionals from around the U.S. at the conference.

Clager’s overall feeling toward ARA’s Women in Rental group is one of gratitude. “I am so thankful for this group,” she says. “I have been in the rental industry for a long time and have always felt like my voice wasn’t heard in the male-dominated industry, especially in the equipment world. Now I know I’m not alone and that all the experiences I’ve had, most of these women also have had. It’s just so amazing to find your people!”

Carol Crittendon, Virginia Abrasives Corp., loved ‘this perfect setting’

Crittendon, who serves as marketing manager with Virginia Abrasives Corp., Petersburg, Va., also attended the Women in Rental gathering and says she walked away “recharged and energized by the passion these women bring to their jobs and our industry.”

Crittendon has enjoyed past Women in Rental Conferences and was similarly impressed by this year’s program. “This perfect setting, in Clearwater Beach, complemented the excellence of the presentations and activities,” she says.

As it was for most attendees, connecting with peers was at the top of Crittendon’s agenda at the conference. “Connecting with new women I’ve never met and reconnecting with friends I’d made previously was my favorite part,” she says.

Ross’ presentation resonated with Crittendon as much as it did with Clager from Rental Time. “Sara [Ross] was so energetic and fun! I’m reading her book now and really learned more about myself from her presentation,” Crittendon says.

Next year’s Women in Rental Conference is already on Crittendon’s calendar.

“Keep it up, and let’s make it bigger,” she says. “I know at least two other women at my business would like to attend next year, and I don’t want to have to fight them for one of two spaces!”

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