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New leaders step up in Connecticut and New York

By Brock Huffstutler

March 14, 2024

The American Rental Association (ARA) state chapters of Connecticut and New York recently welcomed four industry professionals — Carlos Ernest; Patrick Gallagher; Krista Benson, ECP-ST; and Lyndsey Salazar, CERP — to their boards of directors.

ARA of Connecticut

Carlos Ernest, Euphoria Event Solutions, Windsor, Conn.

Carlos Ernest

Carlos Ernest

Ernest has been with Euphoria Event Solutions since 2016. He serves as director of field operations for the company, a role he took on in the past year following his graduation from the University of Connecticut.

“I worked for Euphoria through high school and college doing summer labor for a close family friend and now mentor, Stephen McKay, who owns the company,” Ernest says of his beginnings with Euphoria Event Solutions. “As director of field operations, my role includes creating and developing relationships with clients as well as job-site management. Our company specializes in luxury tents and tension structures, and we have clients across North America.”

Ernest says his company’s longstanding involvement in ARA led to the invitation to become part of the ARA of Connecticut’s leadership team.

“A couple of the Connecticut board members that I have met and/or worked with previously presented me with the opportunity to join,” Ernest says, adding that he answered the call to get involved because “my new responsibilities with the company have motivated me to continue learning about the rental industry and, more specifically, the rental presence in the local community. I believe that answering this call will allow me to develop meaningful professional relationships and help me learn more about the industry on a local and national scale.”

Developing industry connections is at the top of Ernest’s agenda for his term as an ARA of Connecticut board member.

“I believe our chapter is very strong and has done an excellent job of outreach within the community, and I would like to continue to support these efforts,” he says. “I look forward to bringing a new perspective to the board and I’m interested in connecting with other chapters at the regional or national levels to strengthen our relationships within the organization. I have had the opportunity to travel to 20-plus U.S. states in my time with Euphoria Event Solutions and have learned that having connections in a variety of geographic locations is extremely valuable, especially in a pinch!”

Patrick Gallagher, Superior Rental, Milldale, Conn.

Patrick Gallagher

Patrick Gallagher

Gallagher serves as the senior rental specialist at Superior Rental, an independently-owned provider of rental solutions to the construction, industrial, municipal and homeowner markets. The company, launched in 1967, is headquartered in Milldale and operates out of five locations to serve southern New England.

In his role at Superior Rental, Gallagher handles rentals from the counter and over the phone, and coordinates the activities of five of the company’s salespeople. He oversees quotes, reservations, service calls, seasonal rentals and new accounts.

“I have served in the rental industry for 5½ years and have been in this position for two,” Gallagher says of his industry experience.

When asked what aspect of his organization’s ARA membership he values most, Gallagher says, in a word, “Networking.” As a member of the ARA of Connecticut board, he anticipates taking this benefit to the next level. “In the first of what I believe will be many years, I’d like to absorb information and learn how I can make a positive impact,” he says.

ARA of New York

Krista Benson, ECP-ST, New Paltz Equipment Rental, New Paltz, N.Y.

Krista Benson, ECP-ST

Krista Benson, ECP-ST

A self-described equipment rental “jack-of-all-trades”, Benson has owned New Paltz Equipment Rental since 2020. Growing up from the age of 14 in a family-owned True Value/Just Ask Rental business, she became adept in handling not only paperwork and rental contracts, but also hands-on equipment operation and maintenance.

New Paltz Equipment Rental grew out of the void created by the closure of the Just Ask Rental, which was run by her father, Lou Benson, for 22 years.

“When my dad sold the True Value store, the new owner did not want anything to do with the rental company,” Benson says. “My dad was going to auction off the rental equipment just to get rid of it and start fresh into his retirement. I told him I was interested in buying what he had and relocating it in the same town.”

New Paltz Equipment Rental provides mainly construction and tool equipment, with most of its inventory in “smaller earthmoving equipment, like excavators and skid steers,” Benson says. “I also have floor sanding equipment, chain saws, power washers, power tools and concrete equipment. About 40 percent of our customers are contractors and the rest are homeowners that are doing projects themselves. Most of them have project experience but a few do not. They kind of put their trust in me and we help them get the job done.”

A member of ARA’s Young Professional Network (YPN) and an ARA Equipment Certified Professional – Service Technician (ECP-ST), Benson is excited about the opportunity to bring her industry expertise to the ARA of New York board of directors.

“I am looking forward to all the knowledge and guidance I can gain from other ARA members,” Benson says. “I think this will be a great opportunity for me to meet new people and network throughout the rental association.”

Lyndsey Salazar, CERP, NY Tent, Bohemia, N.Y.

Lyndsey Salazar, CERP

Lyndsey Salazar, CERP

Salazar is a project coordinator and account manager in the sales department for NY Tent, a full-service tent, temporary structure and event rental company that serves the greater New York metro area. The company was established in 1994.

Salazar joined the rental industry in the spring of 2017 when she started working at PTG Event Services. After the company was acquired by NY Tent in 2020, “I was fortunate to be offered a position as a project coordinator/account manager,” Salazar says. “Today, I’m proud to say that I have worked and continue to work alongside some of the absolute best in the industry. Among the many events I have had the pleasure of managing in the past seven years, a few of my favorites were Maker Faire New York, Afropunk, Harlem Eat Up, NYC Wine & Food Festival and the NYC Marathon.”

After learning of the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the ARA of New York board of directors, Salazar says she was happy to serve as she believes she has a lot to bring to the table.

“Over the years, I had the privilege of attending numerous ARA shows and YPN conferences, which brought me incredible friendships and led me to serve as a YP Committee member from 2020-2022,” Salazar says. “I have always had interest in being more involved with ARA; however, I also had some major life events take place in recent years like getting married to my best friend, buying our first house, becoming dog parents and more while finding time to travel the world any chance we get, which has kept me busy outside of work. That being said, there is no time like the present and I am truly honored to be given the opportunity to get involved with the ARA of New York board of directors.”

As for priorities while she is a board member, Salazar says, “I would like to continue to see growth in higher education, as I believe there is room for all of us to improve, even at the top. Personally, having completed the CERP [ARA Certified Event Rental Professional] program, not only did I find value in obtaining the actual certification, but I also gained an extraordinary amount of knowledge in my field along the way. Aside from the CERP program, I am eager to see ARA launch its new Certified Forklift Training program, as I feel it will greatly benefit people in this industry.”

Away from event rental, Salazar has been a wish granter at Make-A-Wish Metro New York and Western New York “for almost as long as I have been part of the rental industry,” she says. “The experiences I have had and those I have been lucky enough to meet honestly transformed my outlook on life, and I’m thankful to be part of something bigger than myself.”