By Rich Porayko
The timing of the Canadian Rental Association’s (CRA) regional trade show in British Columbia has always been important as spring generally comes earlier to the west coast, and quite often what happens in B.C. is a sign of things to come for the rest of the country.
By Rich Porayko
|The CRA show in 2009 show in Surrey, B.C., was well supported by 46 exhibitors from across Canada and the U.S. and by 130 people who attended the two-day event.|
The timing of the Canadian Rental Association’s (CRA) regional trade show in British Columbia has always been important as spring generally comes earlier to the west coast, and quite often what happens in B.C. is a sign of things to come for the rest of the country. This year, more people attended the show in Surrey from Jan. 16 to 17, to generate some business and take their turn peering into the crystal ball to see what the future holds.
“Attendance is well up. In previous years we had 65 pre-registered attendees and this year we are at 104 so it is up considerably. And already as of Friday night with all the non-registered people that came we have already beat last year’s attendance,” says president of the CRA B.C., Angie Venekamp, co-owner of Squamish, B.C.-based Rental Network, “it has been good so far, very good.”
|Exhibitor Terry Morrison of StarDiamond Tools says exhibiting at the CRA show is a good idea.|
Rick Hermans, A.E. Sales, B.C. Interior Region. The timing of the show
in January gives companies a head start for spring.
|Jean-Alain Tibbaut, CEO, Eliet, says it is quality over quantity that counts at trade shows.|
B.C. board of directors: from left, supplier director, Mike Falkner,
Rentquip Canada, Richmond; director, Danielle Henson, Kerrisdale
Equipment, Vancouver; president, Angie Venekamp, Rental Network Ltd.,
Squamish; CRA national director for B.C., Peggy Daniel, Rental Network
Ltd.; Squamish, and vice-president, Jim Clipperton, Nor-Val Rentals,
The annual event has been held in the Cloverdale Exhibition Grounds for years and has consistently expanded over the last three years, including selling out the 2009 show with 46 exhibitors from across Canada and the U.S., including Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Maine and New York.
Proactive exhibitors and curious attendees were both factors in the increase at this year’s show but, as Venekamp explains, there are other influences that smiled upon the show management, “The American Rental Association (ARA) has a big show every year and this year it’s in Atlanta. It’s a long way to go from here with the dollar the way it is so that could be part of the increase in attendance. Weather is also a huge factor; it’s foggy but the roads are clear.”
Venekamp continues “We’ve always found that it works good to have the show over two days. Basically it is 130 attendees over 11 hours. Including sponsors, we had 192 registered yesterday for the free barbecue dinner. The show is free to members and non-members pay $50 per person. Everyone is welcome to come but the show is meant as a benefit for the membership. A lot of our attendees come from Vancouver Island and the B.C. Interior. They arrive on Friday night for socializing and networking and then they come on the Saturday to do the buying. Everyone has their pencils sharp today and they are writing up orders. We like to see them with their order books out.”
Shows like this are vital to the CRA, which represents the voice of the rental industry across Canada. It is the primary means of enabling the dedicated individuals who work proactively to improve the entire industry. Venekamp explains that the CRA is reaching out to get involved with more party rental companies. “We’re trying to expand our show to get more event supplies out here because, historically, it has been an equipment show. And it’s not even necessarily new suppliers or exhibitors, a lot of the time it is the same companies. They have patio heaters and barbeques so we encourage them to bring them to the show to try to grow attendance even more. Not to mention that there are a lot of companies already renting equipment that are adding tables and chairs and tents to their rental fleet in order to diversify.”
Even with the attendance up, time will tell if attendees were just walking the show or if there was any actual sales activity. The mantra of the exhibitors echoed time and again was quality not quantity. In order to attract the attention of the attendees that were quality, exhibitors were actively promoting show specials and cash-back incentives.
“We had a good crowd last night but it’s been a slow start this morning,” says Steve Milcik, sales manager for Orion Software. Milcik confirms that the show is growing. “Usually there is only one other software company at the show and this year there are five of us.” When asked about the economy, Milcik speaks candidly, “I talk to so many customers and prospects out there, everyone seemed to have a really good year last year in Canada, and the fear about the economy hasn’t hit them as bad as it has in the States. Orion had a great year last year: the best year ever. But we’re a little bit safer than some of our competitors because we are an international company in 22 countries so we are in a lot of different markets.”
Joe da Silva, sales representation for Trinitec Distribution says that trade shows are expected to see a decrease in numbers during economic downturns, but the rental industry is different. “In these tough economic times, rentals should actually be increasing because people are going to want to rent rather than buy. I really think that rentals are actually going to be improving,” he says.
Douglas Krasowski, regional sales manager for Magnum Products LLC is equally optimistic. “The show has been good. A little slower this morning but that’s expected. If you have a thousand people come by and they are not quality calls, it’s not worth the time being here. If you have three people come by and they are quality calls, it’s worth it. So if you do your homework and you do your job right, you are going to get a good show. Even if no one showed up, I did my pre-homework, made some sales calls while I’ve been here and so far it’s been successful. It’s always nice to see everyone.”
*Rich Porayko is a professional writer, photographer and founding partner of Construction Creative, a marketing and communications company in Metro Vancouver, B.C. firstname.lastname@example.org