Canadian Rental Service

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Editorial: This one’s about the ladies

Join us for the Women in Rental panel at Rental Mart


February 2, 2022
By Patrick Flannery


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Last year, I got involved in a joint venture with several other construction-sector B2B channels to launch an online event called Women in Construction. We hosted a day of presentations and panel discussions with successful women from across a number of industry subsectors. The event went well, attendance was strong and we got enthusiastic feedback from all our participants. It was so successful that I resolved to bring the Women In… concept to you here in the rental business. I started by sending out invitations to nominate strong female leaders in the industry and was overwhelmed by the response. Reader after reader sent long, heartfelt messages telling me about the great women they worked with. Most of the nominators were men. That by itself told me that this topic wasn’t just a “feel good” initiative but rather one that addressed a real need in our industry.

What is that need? It’s the need to make our businesses as open and appealing to women as possible, both as customers and employees. I say “need” and not “want” because not doing this is not really an option any more for anyone who wants to see their rental store flourish. The pandemic shook up our workforces and a lot of stores are having trouble luring laid-off workers back. Just about everyone is having trouble growing the business, not from any lack of demand but because they can’t find the people to do the additional work. In this environment, you can’t afford to take half the population out of your potential talent pool because your business is sending the message that women aren’t welcome. On the customer side, you know you are a lot more likely to see a woman coming through the door to rent equipment than you were 20 years ago.

It’s also high time we recognized and celebrated the huge contributions that women have been making in rental stores across this country – contributions that have often taken place out of the spotlight. Frequently, Dad is the owner and “face” of the store. Mom does the books in the back. Everyone associates the store with Dad, but let’s face it, there would be no Dad without Mom. Maybe it’s time to get Mom out front and centre for once.

So there are compelling reasons to learn what women’s experiences are like in the rental industry and what might make it more appealing to them. To that end, we hosted our first Women in Rental panel at last years’ online Rental Mart. Our former associate editor, Sukanya, had a really lively and insightful discussion with Michelle Nicol of Higgins Event Rentals, Amy London of Snowbird Rentals, Jule Elia of Rapid Equipment Rental and Angie Venekamp of Rental Network. Again, the quality of the conversation and the positive feedback convinced me that these discussions are something we need to do on a regular basis going forward.

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That’s why, on March 8 (International Women’s Day, as it turns out) we are reconvening the Women in Rental panel live at the Rental Mart. I’m thrilled that everyone from the first panel (except Amy; it’s a long way from Edmonton) will join us. In addition, we’ll welcome two new very accomplished rental woman: Rachael Caron with Crown Verity and Andrea Hetu of Equipmentes Brossard. Our new associate editor, Alex Mackenzie, will moderate.

Gender aside, every single one of these women is a skilled, savvy and successful rental professional. I want everyone to come out to hear the discussion and get involved with your questions and opinions. It’s going to be a great chance not only to talk about how to get women involved in the rental industry, but also to pick the brains of some of the top leaders in this country of either sex.

Register for the Rental Mart today at canadianrentalmart.com.