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Networking and plenty of fun were on hand for ARA of Ohio’s recent sports events

By Connie Lannan

February 7, 2023

A few ARA of Ohio members who attended the state chapter's Cleveland Cavaliers game event

A few ARA of Ohio members who attended the state chapter’s Cleveland Cavaliers game event

As a way to reach out to more American Rental Association (ARA) members in different parts of the state, the ARA of Ohio recently offered two sports event socials — the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game Jan. 16 and the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey game Jan. 21. Both events provided great networking and exciting game action.

Brad Huntley, manager, American Rent-All, Holland, Ohio, had never been to a professional basketball game before. Neither had his girls, ages 10 and 12, who love the game, so he took his wife and two daughters to see the Cavaliers defeat the New Orleans Pelicans 113-103.

“This was the big leagues. We all had a blast. My girls had a great time,” he says.

Huntley regrets that more from his store couldn’t attend. “We opened it up to our team, but we had another event that we had to tear down. Many of our team had to be at that,” he says. “I know this would be something that our employees would like to do in the future.”

James “JP” Fritz, president, Lasting Impressions Event Group, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, who serves as ARA of Ohio treasurer, is a confessed “huge” Cavaliers fan. “It was a no-brainer to get tickets. We actually had our Christmas party around this event. We had pizza at the Cleveland shop and then met downtown for the game. We had a blast,” he says.

As a hockey fan, John Fleeger Jr., owner, Home City Tent & Awning Co., Springfield, Ohio, and his wife, Susan, have been trying to see the Blue Jackets play in person for the past 20-some years. “We have had tickets before, but then something came up and we had to hand them off to someone else. This time we finally made it,” he says.

Fleeger, who lives about an hour’s drive from the arena, had some challenges getting to the game after the directions on his phone took him to the wrong parking lot, but they made it to their seats just in time for the puck drop. They weren’t disappointed.

Susan and John Fleeger enjoying the ARA of Ohio's Columbus Blue Jackets game event

Susan and John Fleeger enjoying the ARA of Ohio’s Columbus Blue Jackets game event

“We had a great time. This was my wife’s first time seeing the Blue Jackets play,” Fleeger says, adding that the excitement on the ice made it even more thrilling. “The Blue Jackets were down 2-0 and then came back,” he says. The final score was 5-3.

This was Fleeger’s first ARA of Ohio event. He appreciated the opportunity to attend and the “nice package deal the ARA of Ohio put together, with the ticket for the game and vouchers for something to eat,” he says.

They even had the chance to meet with other rental operators. “As soon as we sat down, my wife struck up a conversation with a gentleman sitting next to her who was in rental and had worked in Springfield in the past.”

That gentleman was Joe Otten, new owner of Xenia Tool Rental, Xenia, Ohio. “I am new to the rental business and just acquired the business in October. I joined ARA shortly after I took over the business and think it is important to be involved in the association. This was the first ARA of Ohio event that came up for me to attend, so I wanted to go,” he says.

It turned out to be “a really good event,” Otten says. “I brought one of our suppliers, a customer and my manager. We each had our spouses with us. It was great to spend some time together. The arena was also outstanding, the seats were good and the Columbus Blue Jackets won.”

More ARA of Ohio members who enjoyed the Columbus Blue Jackets game event

More ARA of Ohio members who enjoyed the Columbus Blue Jackets game event

While he initially planned the outing as a way to have some quality bonding time, he was pleasantly surprised to meet other rental operators. “I met Jeff Loudermilk, the ARA of Ohio president, one of the sales folks from Vandalia Rental and another gentleman. That was great. In talking with Jeff, I learned about the combined ARA of Ohio/ARA of Indiana mixer at The ARA Show™. I had registered to attend the show, but I had not signed up for the mixer yet. I have now,” he says.

The event turned out to be a definite win for Otten. “All in all, being new, it was great to be able to participate and meet Jeff and the others in addition to the team building with a key staff member and other constituents. It exceeded my expectations and I plan to attend future ARA of Ohio events,” he says.

Loudermilk, president, Rental Stop Ohio, Sunbury, Ohio, was thrilled to hear that. “We had a great time meeting other ARA members as well as cheering on the Columbus Blue Jackets to their win over the San Jose Sharks,” he says.

For Loudermilk and the rest of the ARA of Ohio board, providing these events in different parts of the state is a major goal. “We want to offer more opportunities to gather with our rental colleagues. There is value in networking with your peers in the industry. We have not offered tickets for these two events before, but we received good feedback and would like to do these again. Our next event is our ARA of Ohio and ARA of Indiana mixer at The ARA Show in Orlando and then we are planning a sporting clay shooting event this March in Delaware, Ohio. We are always looking for different ways to connect with our Ohio members,” he says.