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.
“We’re looking for equipment,” said Cory Sturdivant, Red Rock Rental, Franklinville, N.C., from the trade show floor of his motivation for attending this year’s show. “We’re a new company that opened up in 2020 — at the height of the pandemic — so we’re looking to purchase 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 Karen Alcock, CERP, Classic Tents & Events, Norcross, Ga., who, following speaker Tim Gard’s session, “Who Says Leadership and Laughter Can’t Mix?”, said, “Not taking life so seriously is what I took away from [Gard’s session].”
The show’s education also was a hit with Carol Fontanez, ECP-SM, Jamco, Inc., Sanford, Fla. “On education, this year I think [The ARA Show] hit the nail on the head with leadership, which is huge, because leadership can apply to managers, supervisors or owners. It’s not specific to owners. So I think the leadership part was fantastic. I went to ‘Be the One’ with Ted Ma. That one made me cry; it was fantastic,” she said.
Following Monday’s 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 they were seeing was robust.
“The show has been awesome so far. There has been very heavy foot traffic. This show does primarily very well for us because it’s a selling show. The ROI is there. People are here to buy the equipment and that’s why we come out,” said Dormie Roberts, Dynapac North America, Fort Mill, S.C.
Daniel VanFleteren, Zippity Outdoor Products, Charlotte, N.C., a first-time exhibitor, said “it’s been an excellent first show for us. We’ve had tons of interest. We’ve had people requesting quotes. The floor traffic has been awesome. Even the people who aren’t purchasing the product directly from us, they’ve been phenomenal to talk to and better understand the industry needs. It’s just been an excellent learning show for us.”
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.
Jeff Crotto, CERP, All About Events – Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Fla., who officially became ARA president-elect at the conclusion of the show, participated in the ARA Foundation auction and had a winning bid of $600 on a Char-Broil deluxe grill. “We should give back to the industry and support all of the great programs the Foundation has helped our industry with, including scholarships and more,” Crotto said.
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!”