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Who said rental isn't funny?

by Brock Huffstutler and Connie Lannan

April may be National Humor Month, but folks in the equipment and event rental industry know how to mix the seriousness of the business with the joy of laughter all year round.

Just ask those passing by Hawaiian Rent-All in Oahu, Hawaii. The company’s theater-type marquee sign is famous for its whimsical, humorous messages that have long been a mainstay and reputation-builder for the company.

The sign is “the highest-visibility comedy platform in the islands,” says Kirstin Downey in her article, “Being Funny Is Also Good Business For This Honolulu Rental Store,” which appeared in Coconut Wireless Weekly.

Downey recalls that when “Hurricane Lane fizzled but a bunch of local boys from Honolulu won the Little League World Series, the sign read: ‘Little League Thank You For Being The One To Blow Us Away.’’’

Other memorable messages on Hawaiian Rent-All’s sign, listed on the company’s Instagram account, include:

“Lonely? We Rent Stud Finders. Happy Valentines.”

“You Barely Get What You Want After Marriage and Elections. #Rent Instead.”

Public feedback about the signs proves that having a little fun can make a big splash in a market: “The most creative, sarcastic AND consistent signage I’ve seen!! Always fun passing by to see what’s up there,” read one post on the company’s Instagram account.

Attendees of the American Rental Association’s (ARA) 2021 Leadership Conference received a reminder about the importance of laughter from guest speaker and comic Tim Gard, who delivered a message about harnessing humor as a skill to prevent or cope with stress in the rental workplace.

“A lot of us can utilize what Tim taught us in the sense that when situations get tough and people are really stressed-out, humor can make things less awkward and we can find the fun in every situation,” said Billy Paquette, general manager, B.L.C. Equipment & Supply Co., Salem, N.H., and an ARA of New Hampshire board member.

Reggie Eda, co-owner, Oxon Hill Rentals, Fort Washington, Md., and ARA of Maryland vice president, who participated in an impromptu “nose flute” performance led by Gard at the conference, agreed.

“Tim was 100 percent on point about incorporating humor in your leadership or in your role as a supervisor. In the end, you’ve got to have fun,” Eda said.

The inspiration to use humor to blow off pandemic-related steam resonated with Meagan Priest, manager, Chair Rental, Englewood, Colo., and ARA of Colorado vice president, who said that Gard’s message “couldn’t have been more perfect. After 2020, all you can do is pivot and be flexible. To put on a spin of comedy — being optimistic and making people laugh — it was something we all really needed to hear.”