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Sarah Wilper, your ARA regional director, talks equipment theft

By Sarah Wilper, CERP

June 6, 2023

Sarah Wilper, CERP

Sarah Wilper, CERP

Welcome to “the season,” American Rental Association (ARA) Region One members, and welcome to the first of what is expected to be a regularly occurring equipment theft-themed edition of the In Your Region newsletter.

Rental is one of the last good faith industries. We trust our clients to care for and return our products. However, we know that isn’t always the case. In my experience, theft is never more evident than in the spring and summer months. During this time, we face heightened threats internally, on the customer side and from unknown, outside actors.

With hiring challenges continuing to plague our industry, we often have no choice but to put as much trust in our employees as we do our customers. We do our best to hire those we can rely on, but the reality is that it doesn’t always work out — sometimes we can get burned by a team member. Fortunately, in-house theft is the type we see the least across our region. Most of us have personal experience with in-house theft that has helped us create checks and balances to protect our products. The affordability of things like security cameras helps to give us all some peace of mind, and creating healthy environments in our businesses that inspire loyalty among staff can head off problems before they start.

We face our biggest challenges with customer theft and external theft. All the security cameras in the world won’t stop someone from loading up a car full of your tables and chairs and never returning them. Fences and locks do not stop thieves from cutting your fence and stealing 10 catalytic converters off your box trucks, all within a span of 10 minutes. And yes, I speak from experience on that one! It happened to us in the last month (read more about catalytic converter thefts in this issue of In Your Region). It is a tough and painful reality we face in rental.

Tables and chairs are items that frequently go missing, as well as any machines or concession items that are easily sold at pawn shops or scrapped for metal.

Many of us have reevaluated how we operate to mitigate theft. Some rental companies only offer delivery now, doing away with customer pick up options. We’ve seen additional alarms, security systems and cameras installed, and we rely on our insurance providers to give us feedback and direction to help reduce loss. But mostly we are diligent. We are ever watchful, listening to our gut feelings and trusting our experiences.

Despite the challenges we face related to theft, Region One continues to grow, expand and develop within our industry. We are always searching for new and creative ways to protect our businesses. I hope the resources shared in this and future equipment theft-focused editions of your ARA regional newsletter will help.

On a different, happy note, the ARA’s 2023 Women in Rental (WIR) Conference and Young Professional Network (YPN) Conference will both be held on the East Coast — in Clearwater Beach, Fla. — in October. Registration for each conference opens July 5 and the events sell out fast, so be sure to secure your spot early. Find full details on each conference and registration access at the links below:

2023 WIR Conference, Oct. 23-24

2023 YPN Conference, Oct. 25-26

Most of us spend all year gearing up for these spring and summer months where business goes from busy to bonkers. We have perfected producing an annual income in a short season each year, so I wish everyone a successful, profitable — and secure — season!

Sarah Wilper, CERP, ARA Region One director
Taylor Rental Center
Manchester, Conn.