The energy was electric as more than 120 members of the American Rental Association’s (ARA) Women in Rental group and Young Professional Network (YPN) gathered for a sold-out dual conference, hosted at The Scott Resort in sunny Scottsdale, Ariz.
It all kicked off with a welcome reception full of networking and fun on Tuesday, Nov. 29, followed by ARA Foundation-sponsored education sessions on Wednesday, a choose-your-adventure activity and a closing reception for both groups at Scottsdale’s El Churro Classroom Bar & Bocce Lawn.
“The location and facility this year are awesome. It’s great having this many people in one space to network and just be together,” said YPN member David Hawk, AAA Rents, Moline, Ill.
During the Wednesday YPN education session, Galen Emanuele presented “Transforming Impact: Next Level Leadership, Culture & Feedback.” Emanuele, a highly sought-after international speaker with clients including Microsoft, Safeway and NASA, also is a worldclass improviser, having taught and performed improv for many years and toured with the cast from “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” His presentation struck a positive chord with YPN attendees, who interacted with each other through improv activities and conversations.
“I loved the improv exercises from Galen about listening more and how to talk to people,” said first-time YPN conference attendee Ashleigh Spatt, Alert Rental Software, Colorado Springs, Colo. “It’s so easy to get distracted in today’s world, but it’s important to learn how to focus, engage and connect with people, both customers and colleagues alike. I’m excited to do the exercises back at work and try new things to improve our operation.”
During the Women in Rental education session, Sara Frasca presented the workshop “The 3 Core Mindsets of Innovation.” She brought a unique perspective as a female leader with corporate and start-up experience. Frasca’s message resonated with attendees in the room. For attendee Toneisha Ramcharran, Handyboys Event Services, Lakeville, Conn., the conference was an opportunity to get involved and make the most of being new in the industry.
“It’s been an amazing experience. Meeting people and networking has been great, and it really shows that we aren’t alone — a lot of the challenges we face are so similar and it’s been a great learning experience,” said Ramcharran. “People here have been so supportive, giving ideas and recommendations. I’ve learned so much from the other women here and have really enjoyed the one-on-one time to grow.”
“At first I was a little anxious with this being my first experience at a conference like this, but I have found a lot of like-minded people who are open to sharing their experiences and perspectives,” said Caitlin LaChance, Giffin Equipment, Santa Barbara, Calif. “This may feel like it’s a male-dominated industry and that can make people anxious or doubt if they have the knowledge to be here, but it doesn’t matter. We’re all here to learn, interact and grow our confidence, community and create a support group.”
YPN Conference attendee T.J. McQuaid, TJM Rental & Supply, Canton, Mass., said this year’s experience was bittersweet.
“I’ve attended almost every single YPN conference in the last 10 years and can’t believe it’s my last one. I remember when I came home after my first conference, I felt like it was the best thing I had done for myself professionally,” McQuaid said.
That sentiment was shared by Hawk. “If you don’t come to these conferences and education sessions, you’re really missing out. It’s a big commitment, but it’s invaluable and will pay tenfold — it’s one of the best things you can do,” he said.
The YPN and Women in Rental groups will have the opportunity to gather again at The ARA Show™ 2023 in Orlando.
Women in Rental and YPN Conference attendees participate in give back project
During the YPN and Women in Rental Conferences in Scottsdale, Ariz., attendees were given time to take a break from learning and choose their own adventure for the afternoon. Options around Scottsdale included a guided hike of McDowell Mountain, guided historical and culture bike tour of the downtown, yoga in the park, shopping at Fashion Mall and 5th Avenue, and a group give back benefitting a local women’s shelter and active military abroad.
More than 25 attendees participated in the give back project, where they packed boxes to provide necessities, including personal hygiene items, snacks, and notes of encouragement to both groups.
“The military give back definitely hits home, which is why we decided to contribute,” said Adam Sneed, Big Sky Rents & Events, Kalispell, Mont. “We like to make a difference when we can, and this was a great way to do that.”
Project participant Susan Irwin, Delux Rental, Ypsilanti, Mich., also said the cause was important to her with her previous experience working in a domestic abuse safehouse for women. “This cause is near and dear to my heart as I know what these women go though, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate in this project. Giving back is a humanity thing, not just a rental thing. We believe in treating people the way you want to be treated and we have the ability to help, so we do.”