The long 16-month wait came to an end on Feb. 11 when The ARA Show™ 2023 kicked off at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.
The last time the equipment and event rental community gathered face-to-face at the American Rental Association’s (ARA) premier event was in Las Vegas in October 2021. With the opening of the show in Orlando, it was time to get back on track with the show’s normal operating schedule. For those in attendance, there was no better place to be to reconnect and focus on the future.
“It’s a buying show, so it’s exciting to come to a show like this,” said Dave Hehr, Contractor Solutions Trench Shoring, Des Moines, Iowa, from the trade show floor. “Not only to check out any show specials but seeing what’s new in the market. We’re here to see the show specials and new equipment.”
The 66th edition of 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.
Saturday, Feb. 11, featured two brand-new education sessions, Future of Equipment Rental for those on the equipment side of the industry, and EventsU (formerly Events & Tents) designed exclusively for those in event rental, brought unique insights.
The education continued on Sunday with presentations delivered by engaging, expert speakers and rental industry panel discussions covering tracks grouped into four themes: “Learn and Lead,” “Connect and Collaborate,” “Empower and Engage” and “Plan and Strategize.”
The mix of the serious and the funny in Sunday’s education sessions resonated with attendees like Rachel O’Brien, ECP-SM, J&F Reddy Rents, St. Louis Park, Minn., who, following speaker Tim Gard’s session, “Who Says Leadership and Laughter Can’t Mix?”, said, “I really like how he emphasized using humor to deal with stress in the workplace, but not in a way that diminishes people — that it has to be positive and happy. You need to leave your stress at work.”
“I like that [several education sessions] are focusing on employees. There are a lot of HR-driven sessions. It’s been really nice to see,” said Dan Farrell, Marquee Event Rentals, Mission, Kan.
The show’s education also was a hit with Chad Wagner, A1 Rent It, Wayzata, Minn., who attended the mergers and acquisitions-themed session presented by attorney James Waite. “James has got a ton of industry experience; I’ve seen him speak multiple times. I thought his presentation today on the sales process and then what he sees on the inside of deals from both the buyer and seller side is just a great insight into the M&A [mergers and acquisitions] activity that is going on in the industry,” Wagner said.
Monday’s Keynote Session saw Steve Mau, Brainerd General Rental, Brainerd, Minn., officially become the new American Rental Association (ARA) president. One of the main themes Mau touched on during his remarks was the importance of awareness of the rental industry.
“How can we leverage all of us for the betterment of the industry? Awareness,” Mau said. “When you ask someone about the rental industry, do they think of cars or houses, or do they think of their next big event or construction project? If the public knows who we are and the role that we play in our communities, customers and employees will follow. We need to tell our story.”
Following the Keynote Session presented by Daymond John, attendees focused on the trade show that featured more than 700 exhibitors.
On-site comments from exhibitors suggested the activity on the show floor was robust.
“We’ve gotten a lot of good leads and we’re showing a new attachment. The show has been very well-attended,” said Scott Clevenger, Arrow Material Handling Products, Lenexa, Kan. “A lot of customers – and a lot of new customers – have been coming by. It seems like they really want to get back out and see the products, so it’s nice to be back.”
Show networking favorites like the Young Professional Network (YPN) Reception, Women in Rental Breakfast, ARAPAC Reception benefiting ARA’s political action committee and the ARA Foundation Charity Auction and Reception also returned.
Randy Hauder, Bloomfield Rent-All, Bloomfield, Iowa, participated in the ARA Foundation Auction and had the winning $2,000 bid on a custom rental contract from James Waite Law. “It makes it easier to bid on stuff knowing it’s going to a good cause,” Hauder said. “I appreciate everything the Foundation does.”
Just before the wrap-up of the show, many attendees kicked back at the sold-out Tuesday Night Event at Universal Studios Orlando. It was one of the biggest parties ARA has ever thrown because the association reserved special areas of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park just for show attendees.
ARA CEO Tony Conant summed up the experience this way: “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 around!”