It was a full house at the Canadian meet and greet at The ARA Show in Orlando.
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.
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 Nancy Snell, CERP, NJS Design Event & Party Rentals, Clinton, Ontario, Canada, who, following speaker Tim Gard’s session, “Who Says Leadership and Laughter Can’t Mix?, said, “What I got from [Gard’s session] was a reinforcement, really, of the idea that life is too important to take seriously.”
Sunday also included the Canadian meet and greet at the Hilton Orlando David’s Club & Grill. This filled-to-capacity event was a “touchdown” with Canadian attendees who gathered for food, drinks, conversation and the big game.
“I love coming to the show because I like to see what’s new on the show floor and being inspired. We see the magazines but there’s nothing like seeing it in person and being able to spend time with people who you only get to see once a year,” said participant Stephan Conze, Special Event Rentals – Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Monday’s Keynote Session saw Doron Broadfoot, The Rent-It Store in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, receive his induction into the Rental Hall of Fame — the rental industry’s most prestigious honor.
“It may have my name on it, but certainly, it’s not all about me. It’s about a great rental community that comes together. You know when something needs to get done, it gets done. I’ve enjoyed 50 years of having fun in this business and everybody else seems to get hard at work and get things done, and I seem to get the accolades. Seems like a pretty good deal to me,” Broadfoot said.
The Keynote Session also featured a presentation by Daymond John, CEO and founder of FUBU, a global lifestyle brand, and a star of ABC’s “Shark Tank” and more.
Cleveland Gervais, CERP, Gervais Party & Tent Rental, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, said he admired John’s tenacity and never giving up. “Don’t quit. Keep grinding,” Gervais said. “He didn’t have what he has now. He did it out of his living room. That’s phenomenal.”
After the close of the Keynote Session, it was time to head onto the trade show floor where attendees were able to interact with more than 700 exhibitors.
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.
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.
“The equipment availability issues did not seem to be an issue for our buying show; we have crafty exhibitors and they found ways to serve their customers,” said Tony Conant, ARA CEO, in his summary of this year’s show. “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!”