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From the mid-Atlantic to the Big Easy: 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 Josh McGroarty, Mac Rentals, New Albany, Pa., said, “We just started our rental business in the last year, and someone recommended joining the ARA, so we did. This is our first show. I’ve gone to a lot of trade shows, and this one seems well done.”

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.

“The [EventsU] speakers were great,” said Larry Hogue, Grand Rental Events, Odenton, Md. “Their knowledge was unbelievable and I’m grateful they gave us some tips on deciding how to move forward.”

L-R: Josh McGroarty, Haley McGroarty and Dalton Maynard of Mac Rentals fresh out of an education session

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.”

David Darby III, Rent-E-Quip, Colonial Heights, Va., and an ARA of Virginia board member, sat in on the session titled “The Power of Using ‘Yes, And!’ Innovation to Stay Competitive in the Rental Industry” and said, “It was a very interesting take on an improvisational comedy vibe — it got the message across but in an entertaining and engaging way, which always drives it home.”

“I attended ‘Generational Issues: Stop Acting Your Age!’ I thought that was really well done,” said Dalton Maynard of Mac Rentals. “The speaker knew what he was talking about, got people involved and really got them interacting with what he had to say. You felt like you were part of what he was talking about.”

“The FUNdamentals of Meaningful Leadership” session presented by Paul Long was, according to McGroarty, “Awesome. And I just left [a session] about consumer behavior in a world of GIFs and that had some really good information.”

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.

L-R: Paulo Matos, Joe Piacenza and Paulo Matos Jr. of Down-Neck Equip. Rentals on the trade show floor

“We come to the show every year. I’m here to buy some air compressors. We bought some of those, and we bought some Cormidi USA products as well. That’s really what brought us here,” said Paulo Matos, Down-Neck Equip. Rentals, Newark, N.J., adding that he saw an item that truly impressed him. “The Movex stairclimber — that’s the most impressive thing I’ve seen in a while at the show.”

Darby said The ARA Show is “one of the biggest opportunities to view new products as they come onto the scene. It’s where we make the majority of our purchasing. And we are able to network with the different vendors side-by-side, so, if we’re ever comparing any different products, it is the most intuitive way for us to understand the pros and cons of different items.”

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.

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

Woodruff and Behnke Spencer receive special recognition in New Orleans

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

Scott Woodruff — Industry Impact Award

Scott Woodruff, second from right, accepts the Industry Impact Award

Scott Woodruff of Tent Ox, Mechanicsburg, Pa., received the 2023 ARA Industry Impact Award, which recognizes a manufacturer supplier and/or independent manufacturer representative rental industry professional who made a significant impact on the association and/or industry during the past two years.

Following many years as an event rental business owner, Woodruff devoted himself to developing specialized attachments for articulating loaders. Seeing a need for this type of equipment, he set out to develop the necessary attachments to do the work of the tent rental industry.

The attachments are designed to assist with not only tent installations and removals but also with moving materials around job sites in general. Woodruff markets this equipment as the Tent Ox, along with the associated attachments.

There are presently 725 Tent OX systems operating in the U.S. and Canada.

“It is an honor to receive this prestigious award. It is my hope that the Tent OX has made a difference for both owners and installers alike,” Woodruff said.

Tina Behnke Spencer — Leadership Impact Award

Robert Steele of AirPac Rents, Front Royal, Va. (left), accepts Tina Behnke Spencer's Leadership Impact Award

Robert Steele of AirPac Rents, Front Royal, Va. (left), accepts Tina Behnke Spencer’s Leadership Impact Award

The late Tina Behnke Spencer, AirPac Rents, Front Royal, Va., posthumously received the 2023 Leadership Impact Award for ARA’s Region Two. 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.

Behnke Spencer was active in the ARA of Virginia. She was a member of the ARA of Virginia board of directors from 2017-2020 in a term that included service as board president. Behnke Spencer returned to the board in 2021 and was serving as secretary at the time of her passing.

“It was an honor for me to present this. Tina was a very good friend,” said Brian Richardson, ARA Region Two Director, who presented the award during the Region Two Reception.

Behnke Spencer’s award was accepted by her brother-in-law, Robert Steele of AirPac Rents.