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The ARA Show brings exhibitors and attendees together for 66th annual convention and trade show

By Stephen Elliott

February 19, 2023

The ARA Show education sessionThe ARA Show 2023™ gave both attendees and exhibitors a chance to connect for the first time since the previous show in October 2021. More than 700 exhibitors gave attendees an opportunity to see and buy products and place orders. Attendees also came together for a number of educational and social events throughout the week. 

Saturday, Feb. 11, kicked off with EventsU and Future of Equipment Rental, two unique offerings that included segment-specific education sessions and networking opportunities.  

On Sunday, Feb. 12, attendees had a chance to attend 16 education sessions on a wide variety of business and operational topics presented by experts and industry peers. Examples included speaker Arthur Greeno, a 30-year Chick-fil-A multi-unit owner/operator, author, entrepreneur and speaker. 

Greeno shared how he takes care of his team to build a positive culture. 

“The culture is the glue that puts everything together,” Greeno said. “My job, as a leader, is to protect my team. Our job is to make our people feel special, whatever that may be.” 

“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, it was just awesome,” said Carol Fontanez, ECP-SM, Jamco, Sanford, Fla. 

The ARA Show education attendees

During the Sunday ARA Industry Awards Lunch, Beth Hoff Blackmer, Aspen Rent-All, Basalt, Colo., kicked off the program by sharing the importance of volunteering and giving back to the industry. The highlight of the event was the induction of Doron Broadfoot, The Rent-It Store, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and James “Jim” Ziegler, Rental City, Boulder, Colo., into the Rental Hall of Fame.  

“It may have my name on it, but certainly, it’s not all about me,” said Broadfoot, who has been a member of the rental industry for more than 50 years. “It’s about a great rental community that comes together. You know when something needs to get done, it gets done. And of course, nothing seems to happen in this business without the great help of the professionals that make up ARA, both present and past. This is a great tribute to all of us and our Focus on the Future.” 

Ziegler started his career in the rental industry in 1969 and expressed gratitude to those who encouraged him along the way. 

“Winning this award would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from my family, my colleagues and from whom I’ve derived strength to challenge myself and perform at each stage in my life,” he said. 

Monday’s Keynote Session opened with remarks from Tony Conant, ARA CEO, who spoke of the resiliency and abilities of those in the equipment and event rental industry. 

Gavel pass

Scott Irwin passes the gavel to Steve Mau

“I know there are still concerns around staffing and equipment availability, but rental folks are crafty people, and this community just figures out how to make it work,” Conant said. “The grit and ingenuity of the folks in our industry, rental operators, and manufacturers alike, has been on full display the last few years. Kudos to you all for having what it takes to keep things rolling.” 

Scott Irwin, Delux Rental, Ypsilanti, Mich., who became American Rental Association (ARA) chair at the conclusion of the show, then passed the gavel to ARA’s 61st president, Steve Mau, Brainerd General Rental, Brainerd, Minn. Mau spoke of the importance of awareness of the rental industry and engagement from ARA members. 

“How can we leverage all of us for the betterment of the industry?” Mau asked. “Awareness. 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.” 

The Keynote Session continued as Daymond John, CEO and founder of FUBU, a global lifestyle brand and star of ABC’s “Shark Tank”, spoke of overcoming adversity and finding your path despite obstacles. 

Daymond John“I’m not going to tell you anything new,” John said. “I’m going to remind you of what got you here. Because every single person in this room, you have things money can’t buy. You have experience, you have discipline, you have manufacturing, you have pipelines, you have things that people can’t buy. The part you may be missing is the easiest thing; it’s taking the things that got you here and applying them into the new way of today. There’s nothing wrong with that and you’re going to be absolutely unstoppable.” 

Also on Monday, ARA released its latest forecast for the equipment and event rental industry, which indicates the outlook remains positive for 2023. ARA reported that U.S. equipment rental revenue surpassed its pre-pandemic highs in 2022, ending the year as a $56.1 billion industry. ARA, in partnership with S&P Global Market Intelligence, shared that in 2023, the U.S. equipment rental industry’s growth will soften, but still grow. Year-over-year growth in 2022 was around 13.5 percent and year-over-year growth is expected to be around 5.3 percent in 2023 and 1.9 percent in 2024. 

“In speaking with rental companies across the United States and Canada, despite some unprecedented headwinds, their businesses are strong. It’s generally a great time to be in rental,” said Tom Doyle, ARA vice president of program development. 

Foot traffic was steady on the show floor during the week. Several exhibitors said they were happy with the show and attendees who were there to make orders. Attendees said they had a variety of reasons to come to the show. 

Korinne Talham and Joseph Pastore with Pastore Rental Equipment, Hudson Falls, N.Y., saw the Orlando show as an opportunity to learn. 

“We’ve been in business for four years now, but there’s still so much to learn about it,” Talham said. “Even the first day, we learned something as simple as changing something small on our business card that might help.” 

Pastore agreed. 

“We came to the show to get new information and things that we just didn’t know, because there was nobody to learn from,” Pastore said. “We didn’t know about the ARA until this spring, and we joined and then found out this is where you come to learn that type of stuff.” 

“It’s a buying show, so it’s exciting to come to a show like this, not only to check out any show specials, but seeing what’s new in the market,” said Dave Hehr, Contractor Solutions Trench Shoring, Des Moines, Iowa.  

Exhibitor Greg Seifert, Premier Attachments, Fort Wayne, Ind., said the show was successful for his company. 

“The interest has been great,” Seifert said. “It’s been a positive experience in terms of the foot traffic orders.” 

Dormie Roberts with Dynapac North America, Fort Mill, S.C., said the show does well for her company because it is a selling show. 

“The ROI is there,” Roberts said. “People are here to buy the equipment and that’s why we come out.” 

Among the many events at the show, the ARA Foundation Charity Auction and Reception on Tuesday evening raised more than $82,000. The auction featured a variety of items. Money raised during the event supports ARA Foundation programs that help those in the equipment and event rental industry, including educational scholarships, employee training assistance, disaster relief, improvement projects that give back to communities while raising the profile of rental and mentor/mentee relationships within the industry.  

Brian Richardson, L & A Tent Rentals, Trenton, N.J., made a $3,000 winning bid on a John Deere lawn tractor. Richardson says the ARA Foundation is important to his company and the rental industry. 

“We want to give back to the ARA Foundation for everything they’ve done for everybody in the rental industry,” Richardson said. “I’ve seen firsthand what it [the Foundation] has done.” 

The show also featured a variety of networking opportunities including the Young Professional Network (YPN) Reception on Sunday, Feb. 12, the Welcome Reception and ARAPAC Reception on Monday, Feb. 13, and the Women in Rental Breakfast, Show Floor Reception and ARA’s Tuesday Night Event at Universal Studios Orlando on Tuesday, Feb. 14. 

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