Canadian Rental Service

Editorial – May 2013

Patrick Flannery   

Features Shows

Show-only discounts could bring our trade shows back to a better future.

Show-only discounts could bring our trade shows back to a better future.

Another show season has come to a close and left me wondering about a change in what goes on at rental shows. I wouldn’t know from personal experience, but I’m told that the local trade show used to be where many rental operators did a great deal of their buying for the year. When I ask rental store owners about how they started out, in almost every case there is a story about a trip to a trade show and a friendly mentor who took them around and helped them select the right equipment for their businesses. There seems to be much less buying on show floors now, and the reason, everyone tells me, is because there is no advantage to it any more. Equipment dealers are offering the same prices whether you place your order at the show or a week (or a month) later.

It isn’t hard to see how this would happen. You want to order when you are ready and not a moment before. The dealer needs the sale and doesn’t want you to go across the street to the guy who is willing to “extend” his show special. As everyone becomes aware that show specials can be obtained just about anywhere and anytime, the very notion becomes something of a joke.

The unfortunate side effect of this is the diminishment of one of the key reasons for going to a show, both for attendees and for exhibitors. If you are not going to find deals at the show, you may not be able to justify the time away from the shop, no matter how good the banquet entertainment is. And if exhibitors are not going to be met at the show by swarms of rental operators with chequebooks in hand, they start to wonder if their time and expense is justified.


In my view, trade shows are a good thing in and of themselves for the relationships they foster and the chances they create for industries to establish their own identities and communities. But they need support.

The levels of support we have seen in the past will not return without the levels of value we have seen in the past.

I think trade show exhibitors should bring back real show specials that are available only on the show floor during show hours and turn our trade shows into buying shows once again. And I think you, the buyer, should support them in this. Instead of asking, “You could do this price a week ago at the show, why not now?” understand that exhibitors are offering a special price at the show in order to support their involvement in the show and the show itself. You win because you get a show floor with a lively market environment where you can easily compare exhibitors who are competing vigorously for your immediate business. The exhibitors win because they can, in one or two days, book an amount of business it would take them weeks or months to collect otherwise.

You will see some of this approach reflected at the 2014 Canadian Rental Mart. We will be strongly encouraging exhibitors to offer real, show-only promotions or price discounts and giving them some extra notice and promotion if they do.

I’d like to welcome a new addition to the Canadian Rental Service team. On the back page, you will find Mark Borkowski, president of Mercantile Mergers and Acquisitions Corporation in Toronto, and his M&A Matters column. In addition to possessing a wealth of knowledge and experience in matters touching business valuation, transfer strategies, finance, corporate structure and restructure, Mark is afflicted with the desire to communicate his thoughts through writing. Unfortunate as this disorder may be for him, his pain is our gain, as he will be sharing insights into the arcane world of buying and selling companies for which you would normally have to pay by the hour. 

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