The return of growth to the U.S. housing and construction markets spurred some great action at the American Rental Association’s annual industry gathering, The Rental Show in Las Vegas.
By Patrick Flannery
The return of growth to the U.S. housing and construction markets spurred some great action at the American Rental Association’s annual industry gathering, The Rental Show in Las Vegas. Things were more subdued, but still positive here in Canada at the Prairie and Atlantic shows.
An extremely active trade show floor, sold-out seminars, and positive energy and enthusiasm at The Rental Show 2013 in Las Vegas reflected the equipment rental industry’s upward trend. The Rental Show 2013 marked the fourth straight year of increased attendance growth. The number of rental businesses represented increased this year as well and was the highest total since 2006, which was the 50th anniversary of The Rental Show. The total number of attendees was 5,365 from 2,480 rental businesses.
Attendees came from throughout the U.S., Canada and more than 40 countries to The Sands Expo and Convention Center for the Feb. 10 to 13 show.
“Overall, The Rental Show reflects where this industry is headed. Everyone anticipated a great show because of the attitude, tone and urgency we’ve seen from attendees on buying equipment,” said Christine Wehrman, CEO of the ARA. “Everything about the Show was positive this year. The Events and Tents program on Saturday and the seminar day on Sunday were huge successes. Our sessions honoring our volunteer leaders were highly regarded and enjoyed by everyone,” she said.
ARA president Mike Blaisdell of Bunce Rental in Tacoma, Wash., also found this year’s show electric. “It was great to see so much positive energy at The Rental Show this year with both attendees and exhibitors very optimistic about 2013 and beyond,” he said. “Attendees and exhibitors alike felt like the show was well done and really enjoyed it. The educational sessions were well attended and received excellent reviews and, as always, the show offered a lot of value and provided many opportunities for networking and peer-to-peer discussions that are impossible to get anywhere else.”
The perspective from exhibitors also was positive. Scott Smith, director of sales for Ditch Witch in Perry, Okla., said, “This year’s show was a tremendous success for our Ditch Witch organization. We saw a significant increase in traffic and all of the customers that we talked to were excited about the strong opportunities in the rental market for 2013 and beyond.”
Next year, The Rental Show is Feb. 9 to 12 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
Watch TheRentalShow.com for updates on the 2014 edition.
Prairie show a social event
Some bad luck with the weather left at least 50 badges unused at the 2013 Canadian Rental Association Prairie Show on March 16, but over 100 attendees browsed the excellent selection of machinery, equipment and party supplies on display, even though the police were telling Saskatchewan residents not to use the highways. Many exhibitors, including Cavalier, Weber, Rentquip and National Hose were offering show-only price specials.
Saskatoon once again delivered the social element at its trade show with a banquet attended by three times as many people as the show floor. Banqueters heard from CRA president, Jeff Campbell and American Rental Association president, Mike Blaisdell. The smooth-spoken Tim Ranson of CRA Alberta was master of ceremonies.
Saskatchewan national director Blair Holtsman presented the Saskatchewan regional award to Keith Andrews of Prairieland Rental Centre. Andrews, who is also president of the Saskatchewan local recognized Ed Dwyer for his work as CRA national president. Gene Elash awarded “Bobcat” Brad Williams the Supplier of the Year award. And finally, Doran Broadfoot’s life of hard work at last paid off when he was presented the Dickie Doo award by Paul Everitt.
The Prairie Show offered an educational program for the first time, which took place on March 15 in the Radisson hotel. “Social Media Strategy” was presented by Harley Rivet, telling attendees how to use such online tools as Twitter and Facebook to connect with customers. “Understanding Customer Service: the Wow Factor” was presented by Marielle Gauthier and discussed the concept of internal and external customers and the importance of serving both. About 45 people attended the seminars.
“Good show! I was impressed with the quality of booths as well as the number of booths,” said CRA national president, Jeff Campbell. “The banquet and seminars were well-attended, creating the unique bonding that goes on in the prairies. Mike [the ARA president] mentioned this numerous times. When you leave a Prairie Show you can’t help but feel that you have spent time with a group of close business friends. This is one of the shows that all CRA members look up to, and rightly so.”
“People are looking for ideas,” national Saskatchewan director, Blair Holtsman, said. “They want to talk to their suppliers and look for new products. They will definitely want to stock up on pumps for all the flooding that might happen this year.”
Blaisdell thoroughly enjoyed his first trip to Saskatoon. “It was certainly a privilege to attend the 2013 CRA Prairie Show and I enjoyed meeting and talking to the many CRA/ARA members throughout the weekend,” he said. “I congratulate the show committee, the exhibitors and the attendees for a job well done. It was my honor to represent the ARA and celebrate the Prairie Show with the many members in attendance. I would like to thank everyone for their generous hospitality and the opportunity to support our membership and to represent ARA.”
Organizers betrayed some anxiety over changes to the hospitality format, but the room and bartender provided by the hotel seemed to work well with the help of ample tickets provided by suppliers. A comic impressionist entertained the crowd after the banquet.
A great feeling at Atlantic
Numbers were up at the Canadian Rental Association’s Atlantic trade show, held March 2 at the Ramada Plaza Crystal Palace in Moncton, N.B. About 64 rental operators attended, taking in an ever-growing array of light equipment and tools and attending the banquet and casino night. That growth is making for a tight fit at the Ramada, and the show may need to seek a larger venue soon.
The Atlantic show atmosphere is summed up best with local association vice-president Dale Pardy’s word, “personable.” There is a one-on-one friendliness to interactions, and everyone seems to know everyone else and to be eager to get to know those they don’t. Max Desmeules, a representative for Tsurumi, called the 2013 edition “The best Atlantic show ever.” He added “I have seen a lot of new faces and there is a great spirit here. This group is really like a family.”
The Atlantic rental family recognized one of its own, Nancy Crosby of Classic Rentals, at the Friday night banquet with the Atlantic Region Person of the Year award. Crosby is secretary of the Atlantic local and worked hard with treasurer Sara Pardy to sell 50/50 tickets that raised $200 for the CRA’s Dorothy Wellnitz Scholarship.
The banquet included a member meeting chaired by local president Hank McInnis of Hewitt Rentals with messages from national Atlantic director Dave Fraser of Cat Rentals and national CRA president Jeff Campbell of St. Thomas Rent-All. Garth Scott, the association’s resident historian, was called upon for his traditional joke, but instead he regaled the crowd with tales from the Barrett-Jackson classic car auction in Arizona.
Notable on the show floor was new-look concrete mixer from Stone, now being produced under the Toro name. It is essentially the same mixer that was Stone’s bread and butter for years, but now with a powdered paint job in the Toro black and red colours.
There was some buzz among exhibitors and show staff about the return of true show specials. Peter Witt of Weber Machine was advertising a show special on one of his rammers that he said was $400 below regular price, and that the same deal would not be available off the show floor no matter what. A surprising number of other exhibitors agreed that it is increasingly important to offer show-only promotions and discounts in order to drive traffic to their booths.