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Vendor Nights in Conn. and N.H. offer upbeat networking atmospheres

By Brock Huffstutler

February 7, 2023

ARA of New Hampshire's Vendor Night 2023

ARA of New Hampshire’s Vendor Night 2023

American Rental Association (ARA) members in Connecticut and New Hampshire linked up with vendor partners at their respective state chapters’ Vendor Night events in January.

Each event offered a glimpse of new products available to the rental industry, one-on-one time with peers and vendors, hors d’oeuvres and dinner.

First up was the ARA of New Hampshire event, hosted at Grappone Conference Center in Concord, N.H., on Jan. 10.

“It’s always nice to see new items and catch up with the different reps,” says participant Larry McLaughlin, manager, ATS Equipment, Candia, N.H.

The “Bonus Bucks” offered by the ARA of New Hampshire to attendees also was a big hit. The incentive provides each store in attendance with a $100 voucher to spend with a vendor on site that evening.

“The vendors put on a great display and offered some great ARA-only deals. We saw many new faces from both our vendors and attendees. While networking is a primary focus of all ARA of New Hampshire events, ‘Bonus Bucks’ are a huge hit every year at our Vendor Night. It acts as a great incentive for both vendors to come sell and attendees to make purchases with new vendors,” says Allison McIntosh, owner, Taylor True Value Rental, Concord, N.H., and ARA of New Hampshire president.

McIntosh adds that this year’s Vendor Night was “uniquely special as we were able to showcase Alex Dirck [ARA program manager, chapter leadership relations], who gave a presentation discussing the benefits that ARA membership has to offer, and Sarah Wilper [executive vice president, Taylor Rental Center, Manchester, Conn., who is the incoming ARA Region One director].”

Dirck repeated her ARA membership benefits presentation the next evening, Jan. 11, at Stony Creek Brewery in Branford, Conn., where the ARA of Connecticut held its Vendor Night.

“This was the best turnout we have ever seen,” says Manny Polloni, COO/CFO, The Greenwich Tent Co., Bridgeport, Conn., who also serves as vice president and treasurer of the ARA of Connecticut. “The vibe was that everyone wanted to get together after the pandemic fatigue of the past few years and the camaraderie was evident throughout the evening by both vendors and attendees.”

ARA of Connecticut's Vendor Night 2023

ARA of Connecticut’s Vendor Night 2023

Polloni also says that for the overall 2023 outlook, “Many attendees were upbeat about the upcoming event season, feeling like it was going to be another successful year. I heard many stores even saying 2022 was their best year ever.”

ARA of Connecticut president Brittany Sherwood, owner/lead event coordinator, Tents Unlimited, Torrington, Conn., also was thrilled with how Vendor Night turned out.

“We had record-breaking attendance with a 60 percent jump from last year’s Vendor Night,” she says. “Our members were highly engaged and had an opportunity to speak to vendors about the newest products and technology available in the industry as well as network with other industry professionals.”

Sherwood says her major takeaways from Vendor Night included the “incredibly positive feedback from both members and vendors,” and “the major highlight of the event where we were able to honor various stores and members with an awards ceremony in recognition of their dedication to the ARA of Connecticut. We thought it important as a board to make note of these members and stores as they are the reason we do what we do as volunteers.”

“I look forward to this event every year because it gives you a great opportunity to visit with so many vendors and catch up with other rental stores that you have become friends with,” says Russ Dagenais, owner, Taylor True Value Rental, Wallingford, Conn. “ARA of Connecticut, formerly Connecticut Association of Rental Dealers [CARD], has been great to me. About the time CARD was being formed I had entered into the rental industry full time. My father was diagnosed with cancer, so I quit my job and came to work for my father full time. I was able to use CARD to help me solve different issues that came up, with educational training or by just sitting down with members with a roundtable discussion. As I look back, I was one of the younger members; now I’m one of the older members. One member back then said, ‘We are not competitors; we are colleagues.’ I’m so glad that Brittany [Sherwood], Sarah [Wilper] and all the ARA of Connecticut board are carrying on with the association.”