By Canadian Rental Service
The ties that bind Canada’s rental industry were never more evident than at the 2015 rental shows this spring. Friends and family of two late business owners – Dale Pardy of Butler Scaffolding and Rentool and Jim Johnson of Cavalier Industries – were offered condolences and fond memories by their communities amid the usual buying, learning and laughter that accompanies the Canadian Rental Association’s flagship events.
By Canadian Rental Service
B.C. Regional Trade Show
by Ed Cosman
From the moment I stepped off the plane on Friday morning right through to when I flew back to Toronto on Sunday, the skies in Surrey, B.C. – home of the CRA B.C. trade show – treated everyone to a non-stop downpour. That, however, did not stop some 230 rental professionals from taking part in this annual event Jan. 23 and 24.
The show started on Friday afternoon with delegates visiting and making business deals with the 47 exhibiting companies, including first time exhibitor Valley Traffic Systems with Kelly Shannon and Bill Van Esch showing their latest traffic control products. Another first time exhibitor – Vic Khosla of Unique Business Systems – showed off his rental software system. Dinner that night was served on the show floor and the hospitality room back in the Cascades Hotel allowed everyone the opportunity to unwind and exchange rental tales after the show closed for the day. The trade show resumed on Saturday morning with lunch served on the show floor.
John King from Total Equipment Sales was hard at work both days of the show even though his equipment wasn’t as it was stuck at customs and did not arrive in time. Rentquip Canada introduced their brand new line of Patron-branded water pumps at the show. Sizes range from a one-inch de-watering pump right through a four-inch trash pump. All are assembled in Canada with Honda engines.
On both show days a $1,000 prize was awarded to a rental store to spend with a show exhibitor. The daily winners were Arnold Buteau of Warner Rentals and Brad Wiebe of Star Rentals. Making his last appearance at a trade show was Multiquip’s Don Flint, who retired at the end of January.
The gala awards banquet was held on Saturday night. After a number of speeches the awards were presented. The Rental Store of the Year was won by Warner Rentals with Ralph Warner accepting the award. The CRA B.C. Supplier of the Year went to Westerra Equipment with Grant Phillips accepting the award. Afterwards the non-stop entertainment was provided by Tracey Bell who was pinch hitting on very short notice after Johnny “Bagpipes” Johnson cancelled due to illness. Bell impersonated a number of female singers including Janis Joplin, Madonna, Cher and more. The interactive show had the audience in stitches. A special mention needs to go out to Rentquip’s Jim Freeman and Bill Pedersen of Pedersens Rentals for their “voluntary” participation.
Atlantic Regional Trade Show
by Patrick Flannery
About 100 rental professionals braved the towering snowbanks of Moncton, N.B., to participate in the CRA’s Atlantic Regional Trade Show at Casino New Brunswick. Attendees toured booths featuring 42 exhibitors and swapped stories of their struggles with the extreme winter weather that has clobbered the region for the past month. Some significant buying went on, with broad smiles on the faces at the Brooks Construction booth, among others.
The event opened with the CRA Atlantic banquet on the Friday night before the Saturday show. This year’s banquet was an emotional affair as the Atlantic local paid tribute to its departed president, the late Dale Pardy, with his wife, Sara, and children, Emily and Tim, in attendance. Pardy died of lymphoma in December at the age of 36. He was widely credited with rejuvenating the Atlantic association with his energy and enthusiasm, helping to build up the trade show, recruit a full board of directors and bring back the golf tournament after some years of decline. Memorializing Pardy, national Atlantic director Hank McInnis of Hewitt Rentals said, “Dale had a vision for this association and this show. Now it is up to us to keep that vision alive.” He called for volunteers to stand for election to the CRA Atlantic’s open board positions.
Incoming CRA Atlantic president, Murray Salter of Hewitt Rentals, also honoured Pardy. “Dale wanted this association to be something people wanted to do, not something they felt they had to do,” Salter remembered.
The show floor had an indoor golf chipping game set up to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Business was brisk, with Tim Pardy filling in the gaps between paying golfers. At the end of the show attendees had raised $240, with McInnis announcing the CRA Atlantic would match the donation.
The show wrapped up as always with a draw for prizes donated by the exhibitors.
The Rental Show
American Rental Association
Even with greater anticipation and increased expectations for The Rental Show 2015 in New Orleans, the optimism and energy could be felt from all facets of the rental industry throughout the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Feb. 22 through 25.
That optimism and energy also are reflected in the final attendance numbers, which increased for the sixth consecutive year – a milestone that hasn’t been achieved by The Rental Show since the early 1980s. Rental business attendance increased nearly fie per cent this year over 2014.
While the attendance growth was apparent throughout the exhibit hall when it opened, the enthusiasm wasn’t limited to the show floor. The pre-show Events and Tents workshop on Feb. 21 had been sold out since November with 450 registrants, plus the wide variety of educational seminars on Feb. 22 attracted attendees in great numbers. Then there was the keynote session featuring Denver Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, on Feb. 23, drawing a capacity crowd that gave the NFL’s only five-time MVP numerous standing ovations before, during and after his address.
Christine Wehrman, ARA CEO, was pleased with the remarkable way attendees and exhibitors were enjoying one another throughout The Rental Show, participating fully in the programs and events, and using the networking opportunities the show provides.
“Everything at the show was working at the highest level this year. There was strong interest in meeting with exhibitors, purchasing of equipment, excellent networking and positive attitudes from all attendees and exhibitors,” Wehrman said. “There is an optimistic outlook for the future of the equipment rental industry, short-term and long-term. Everyone is very confident of the future being a stronger marketplace and they are investing in the growth of the industry.”
Paul Phelon of Timp Rental Center in Orem, Utah, now ARA’s chairman of the board, noticed that confidence as well. “The show had a great deal of energy, with a lot of people in New Orleans and a high level of buying activity. Members were flooding the show floor and vendors were excited to see people coming.”
Exhibitors felt the energy throughout The Rental Show also. “People were buying from the beginning of the show and others were shopping and then coming back to finalize quotes,” said Clay Eubanks of Takeuchi Manufacturing. “We knew it was going to be good because the economy overall is doing better. The show this year was like the old days with a buzz and buying activity.”
Next year, a celebration of ARA’s 60th anniversary will be the focus of The Rental Show. Dates for the show are Feb. 21 to 24 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.
Prairie Region Trade Show
by Patrick Flannery
Saskatoon put its best foot forward at the March 14 Prairie Show, thanks to double-digit temperatures and another strong combined effort by the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba CRA locals. About 160 attendees made for a lively show floor and over 50 visitors enjoyed a Friday tour of some impressive Saskatoon rental operations. But the big news of the show was the announcement that it would move to Edmonton in 2016.
Cavalier founder Jim Johnson was on everyone’s minds following his death Feb. 27 at the age of 69. His son, T.J., and daughter, Brittni, were approached many times with condolences and old stories. T.J. and Brittni now own Cavalier as president and vice-president, respectively. CRA chairman, Marc Mandin, paid tribute to Johnson in a speech at the banquet, noting his exuberance, his emphasis on quality and his enthusiastic support for the association.
ARA president, Terry Turner, was on hand for the Friday tour and to speak at the Saturday night banquet. Turner thanked the western locals for the warm welcome to Canada and mentioned his delight at suddenly becoming 25 per cent richer just by crossing the border.
David Mintenko, CRA national president, made the official announcement of the show’s move to Edmonton at the banquet. He recognized the strong efforts of the Saskatchewan local over the years to host the show and build it into the successful event it is. The move was formalized with the “hand off” of a Roughriders football, signed by the Saskatchewan board, to Alberta national director, Jim Boddez. Reaction around the show to the move was positive, with many exhibitors expressing excitement at gaining exposure to the hot northern Alberta oil-field rental market at the next show.
In lieu of a traditional educational seminar program, the Prairie Show featured a well-organized tour of three Saskatoon stores (Handy Group, The Rent It Store, and Hub City Display), one equipment dealership (Earthworks) and a local micro-distillery, LB Distillers. Three guesses as to which stop was most popular.
It was a big show for Doug Krasowski of Wacker Neuson, who took home both the Doug Mitchell Award and the Dickie Doo award. The Doug Mitchell Award recognizes industry knowledge and contributions to the associations. The Dickie Doo honours those who have grown to a certain stature in the western rental industry.
Fundraising through a 50/50 draw and silent auction raised over $3,000 for the Doug Mitchell and Dorothy Wellnitz scholarship funds, awarded by the ARA to children or employees of Canadian rental operations who wish to further their education in a field relevant to rental.
by Martin Forgues
Trade shows usually remain quiet around opening time – most activity revolves around the various kiosks where sales reps get ready to meet and greet rental business owners, hoping they got in an early “Black Friday” mode to buy the various equipment, ranging from light power tools to heavily polished lifts and vehicles. But on March 11, this relative sense of calmness contrasted with the excitement of one dynamo who kept running up and down the aisles of Laval’s Plaza Forzani, which held Quebexpo 2015.
Newly appointed as managing director of the CRA, Nathalie McGregor jumped on the rental business bandwagon after spending years in the non-profit world. “I wasn’t that familiar with the rental business when I started my mandate last year, but I love a good challenge”, she said before mentioning that her French/English bilingualism and love for contact with the public have proven to be quite an asset over the year during which she held her tenure. “I love working for people, helping them connect”.
She also innovated for this year’s edition with a new feature that proves quite popular both with dealers and shoppers. “We set up a rest area, complete with comfortable stools and free coffee and water. It brings people together in a very natural and relaxed way,” said McGregor.
With a background in accounting and sales, she confidently tackled the task of organizing the show on behalf of the CRA with the Quebec association acting as “field operators,” making sure that sparks flash between the reps showing off their latest gear and the business owners, some of them already emailing their bankers.
“We expect around 300 to 350 visitors. I’d say that Quebexpo is quite a success”, said McGregor.
Sitting at a stool in the CRA’s kiosk and chatting both with fellow business owners and Quebec local volunteers, Benoit Légaré, the association’s treasurer and owner of Location Pro, based in Quebec City, echoed his manager’s sentiment. “I buy most of my equipment here at Quebexpo. The discounts that the exhibitors offer during shows make a huge difference. Even if I don’t buy, I make contacts, which can always be useful later,” he said. “I’m assuming double duties today – recruiting new members and going on a shopping spree.”
Roughly an hour after opening time, the mood was already switching from calm to dynamic, with dozens of rental business owners chatting up with sales reps, trading business cards, negotiating deals and using smartphone banking apps to make on-the-spot transactions with their financial institutions. “Attendance is small compared to bigger shows in the U.S., but the atmosphere is far more convivial,” said Tom Brennan from Inteq Distributors and one of 78 exhibitors present, which sells high-tech measure instruments aimed at the construction industry.
He should know, being used to much larger tradeshows and hauling his demonstrators from their Exeter, Ont., headquarters to as far as Louisiana.
Ontario Conference and Product Expo
by Patrick Flannery
The Ontario Canadian Rental Association put learning at the forefront of its conference program March 25 at the Holiday Inn in Guelph, Ont. The event drew praise and increased attendance with its full morning of education sessions featuring access to experts that rental store owners would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
The revamped schedule featured education seminars from 8 a.m. until lunch, followed by the traditional tabletop displays in the nearby ballroom. Presentations were divided into party and equipment rental streams, with equipment rental operators hearing about scissor lift transportation courtesy of Skyjack and Vermeer, and equipment theft prevention from two York Regional Police officers. Party rental folks got a presentation on heating and air conditioning sizing for events from L.M. Temperature Control. Both groups were offered panel discussions with officials from key Ontario regulatory agencies: the Electrical Safety Authority, the Ministry of Labour’s Industrial Health and Safety program, the City of Guelph’s building permit office and a truck inspector from the Ministry of Transportation. The questions flew fast and furious and it is safe to say everyone in the room learned something. Presenters and panel members were mobbed after the sessions with additional questions and requests for contact information. The association reported 160 rental professionals at the event. The CRA Ontario banquet followed the show day, highlighted by an encouraging keynote speech from special guest, Christine Weyrman, CEO of the ARA. Weyrman praised the strong progress of the CRA and the Ontario local, pointing to economic indicators that good times for the rental industry are ahead. CRA national president, David Mintenko, also addressed the group, making special mention of the sponsors and suppliers who provide so much support to these events. All speakers highlighted the need for continued involvement from the membership, reminding attendees that positions on the Ontario board will be coming up for election at the next Ontario meeting on April 15 at Rentquip in Woodstock, Ont.
Awards went to James Morden, Region 10 director, for Rental Professional of the Year and Rentquip for Ontario Supplier of the Year. The President’s Image Award for party and event went to Muskoka Party Rentals and the Image award for equipment rentals went to Stayner Rental. Draws for door prizes and 50/50 cash capped off the evening with cheers and groans.