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From New England to New Orleans: Shaping the future of rental

By Brock Huffstutler

March 14, 2024

The six-year hiatus from the Big Easy came to an end in February when The ARA Show™ 2024 kicked off at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

The 67th edition of the American Rental Association’s (ARA) premier event — which is the world’s largest equipment and event rental industry-specific convention and trade show — offered attendees plenty of opportunities to network and learn from peers, industry experts and vendors.

First-time attendee Alliyah Taylor, Admar Supply Co., Rochester, N.Y., said, “I’m very new to the industry, so I’m here to learn and meet some new people and, as a purchasing specialist, talk to some vendors and hopefully get some orders in. I’ve met some new people, which is what I’m here to do. This venue is huge and it’s beautiful. Being here [in New Orleans] is beautiful. I’m excited to see all the equipment and all the vendors.”

Saturday, Feb. 17, featured the return of EventsU, a full-day program designed exclusively for those in event rental with plenty of rental-specific education and networking.

Alliyah Taylor, Admar Supply Co., Rochester, N.Y., right, and other ARA of New York members at The ARA Show.

Alliyah Taylor, Admar Supply Co., Rochester, N.Y., right, and other ARA of New York members at The ARA Show.

The education continued on Sunday with presentations delivered by engaging expert speakers and rental industry panel discussions covering tracks grouped into four themes: “Learn & Lead,” “Connect & Collaborate,” “Empower & Engage” and “Plan & Strategize.” Then, following Monday’s Keynote Session presented by Jon Taffer of the hit TV show “Bar Rescue,” attendees focused on the trade show that featured more than 650 exhibitors.

During his presentation, Taffer talked about time and how we choose to use it, saying that using time wisely can lead to other avenues of success. “We live and die by the revenues that we create,” Taffer said. “We live and die by the connectivity of our businesses to our customers.”

Taffer said accelerating processes can be applied to create better results. He also talked about accountability and making excuses.

“If you can blame someone else for your failure, you have no reason to change,” Taffer said. “That’s when change happens, when we own it. I’ve learned in ‘Bar Rescue’ if you own failure, you find success. But, if you don’t own failure, you keep failing. That’s the most powerful lesson I’ve learned.”

The common denominator for failure is an excuse, according to Taffer. “Excuses paralyze us,” he said.

Attendees from Vermont inspect equipment on the trade show floor

Austin Pastore, with Pastore Rental Equipment, Hudson Falls, N.Y., said Taffer’s presentation was informative. “It was very good. I thought that creating a reaction as part of your marketing plan was good advice,” he said.

Heading to the trade show floor, Judy Fishgold, Altra Rental & Supply, Ontario, N.Y., who also serves on the ARA of New York board of directors, said her company was shopping for new rental software. “Our challenge with software is that we are very heavy retail. We have rental and retail. And we also have boots, clothing and safety apparel. We have over 20,000 items in our store, so we need software that can handle retail and rental.”

Many attendees also enjoyed returning show favorites like the Young Professionals Network (YPN) Reception, Regional Receptions, Women in Rental Breakfast, ARAPAC Reception for members of ARA’s political action committee, and the ARA Foundation Charity Auction and Reception.

Just before the wrap-up of the show, many attendees shared an unforgettable evening with chart-topping country singer Mitchell Tenpenny at the Tuesday Night Event at House of Blues New Orleans.

“It was so nice to see the rental community thriving in New Orleans,” said Tony Conant, ARA CEO. “From the opening program to the final bell, rental operators got everything they came for — education, networking, buying and entertainment. The Sunday education lineup and Tuesday night at House of Blues were some of the best experiences folks had in many years. I heard nothing but positive feedback on the keynote speaker, Jon Taffer. He has a way of getting your attention and delivering a message that business owners need to hear.

“Equipment availability seems to be much better this year so the show floor was busy with deal seekers. The ARA Show proved again that it is the best place in the world to see rental equipment and products, get rental-specific professional development and network with the best group of people on the planet,” he said.

Click here to view the show wrap-up video from Rental Management.

Chapin, Donabedian and Morris receive special recognition in New Orleans

Left to right: Deb Ross accepts Jay D. Chapin’s Rental Hall of Fame honor; Stefani Donabedian; Dan Morris with ARA Region One Director Sarah Wilper, CERP

Three members hailing from the American Rental Association’s (ARA) Region One received special recognition during The ARA Show™ 2024 in New Orleans:

Jay D. Chapin — Rental Hall of Fame

The late Jay D. Chapin of Springfield, Mass., was past president and co-founder of Taylor Rental Corp., was inducted posthumously into the Rental Hall of Fame. The Rental Hall of Fame was created by ARA in 2000 to honor those individuals who have changed the trajectory of the equipment and event rental industry.

“Our family is so honored and so blessed. Dad was such a humble man and never tooted his own horn. I know he would have been very appreciative,” said Debra Ross, Chapin’s eldest daughter.

Stefani Donabedian — Rising Star Award

Stefani Donabedian, Decanted Wine Truck, Hudson, Mass., who serves as president of the ARA of Massachusetts, received the 2023 ARA Rising Star Award.

The award recognizes a young professional who has demonstrated leadership at the grassroots level.

“Receiving the Rising Star Award is a tremendous honor, and I am humbled by this recognition,” Donabedian said. “The opportunities to contribute, learn and grow within the rental industry are a highlight of my professional journey. Being part of the Young Professional and Women in Rental communities fills me with pride. I am filled with excitement for what’s next in my journey.”

Dan Morris — Leadership Impact Award

Dan Morris, Kennebec Equipment Rental Co., Fairfield, Maine, who serves as president of the ARA of Maine, received the 2023 Leadership Impact Award for ARA Region One. The Leadership Impact Award recognizes an individual in each of the ARA’s 10 regions whose leadership benefited their state and/or local association and its members over the past year.

“I was quite taken aback when I was told I would be receiving this award,” Morris said. “It was and still is hard for me to see that I have done enough to be deserving of such an award. I am most appreciative of those who nominated me and happy to know that my efforts are recognized by my peers, when I cannot see them myself.”