Trending Content

Ready to tackle the future

By Brock Huffstutler

December 12, 2023

Networking opportunities were plentiful at the conferences

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 from Canada — ARA’s Region Ten — had to say about the events.

Matthew Presta and Mia Presta, Eqpme, found a group ‘ready to tackle the future’

Chief operating officer Matthew and chief communications officer Mia from Eqpme, North York, Ontario, attended the YPN Conference. Neither regretted their decision to make the trip south.

“The atmosphere buzzed with the energy of a high-powered construction fleet ready to tackle the future,” Matthew says, with Mia adding that “I saw firsthand the transformative power of networking at the ARA YPN in Clearwater. It wasn’t about collecting contacts, but about building relationships that resonated on a deeper level. In every conversation and story shared, I felt a sense of unity and strength, especially alongside my empowering female colleagues in the industry.”

Matthew says he took away some resonating points from the YPN keynote speaker, James Taylor, and his presentation, “Supercreativity™: Augmenting Human Creativity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.”

“Hearing James Taylor discuss the limitless potential of technology, from AI to augmented reality, was akin to peering into a new era of construction,” he says. “ARA stands as the industry’s cornerstone, a unifying force that connects us all. At Eqpme, our role is to equip the tireless warriors of the equipment and event rental industries alike with robust, efficient tech solutions. Our focus is on purpose-driven tech, keeping the gears of the rental world turning smoothly. Opening ourselves up to this level of disruption can unleash our true potential and the opportunities that come with it.”

Mia left the conference feeling psyched.

“This event was more than just a professional gathering; it was a vibrant showcase of the determination and drive that fuels our industry,” she says. “We’re not just part of the equipment rental business; we’re shaping its future together. The energy there was palpable — a testament to the collective ambition and resilience that the ARA promotes and supports. It’s a powerful reminder of the impact we can have when we connect, share and grow together.”

Angie Venekamp, Rental Network, was ‘pleased to see so many attendees from Canada’

Venekamp, ECP-SM, general manager of Rental Network, Squamish, British Columbia, who also serves as ARA Region Ten director, took part in the Women in Rental Conference and felt it was “a great opportunity to network with other women in the industry; I was pleased to see so many attendees from Canada participating!”

Venekamp says her favorite part of the conference was keynote speaker Sara Ross, who delivered her program, “Activate Your Aliveness Factor.”

“The seminar really resonated with me,” Venekamp says. “Sara really helped me realize where I need to focus my energy.”

Karen Ackerman, Special Event Rentals, enjoyed a ‘great atmosphere to connect’
Karen Ackerman, CERP (right) with industry peer Delores Crum, CERP, of Premiere Events, Austin, Texas

Karen Ackerman, CERP (right) with industry peer Delores Crum, CERP, of Premiere Events, Austin, Texas (Photo courtesy of Karen Ackerman)

“Networking, connecting and building relationships with fellow women in the rental industry was my reason for eagerly attending and registering early,” says Women in Rental Conference attendee Ackerman, CERP, director of operations at Special Event Rentals, Edmonton, Alberta.

Ackerman rates the event as “fantastic — the location, hotel, speaker, swag bag and networking events were all well-organized and created a great atmosphere to connect with industry peers in a relaxing environment.”

The conference’s closing reception — in the form of a cruise along the Clearwater Beach coast — was one of Ackerman’s favorite parts of the event. “The sunset cruise evening was the perfect end to the conference. Lots of great conversations and, of course, dancing,” she says.

Ross’ keynote session also contained some helpful takeaways. “The best was learning about stand-out versus survival zones, learning how to recognize when we are in the survival zone, and building strategies to not go so far into the survival zone and/or stay in that zone for long,” Ackerman says.

Ackerman valued ARA’s Women in Rental initiative well before the conference, and the event only solidified that feeling.

“Women in Rental has been a great addition to the already extensive list of services ARA offers its members,” she says. “It provides a great opportunity to reach beyond your local network and learn from others who are excited to share their experiences so we can collectively raise the bar and continue to build a strong and vibrant industry.”