The numbers speak for themselves
By Patrick Flannery
The numbers speak for themselves. The Canadian Rental Mart, which ran March 6 and 7, hosted 855 rental professionals, up 24 per cent from the 2010 tally of 689. Of those, 488 were rental operators representing 225 individual companies attending. They visited 104 exhibiting companies.
|The sound of dealmaking was in the air everywhere at the 2012 Canadian Rental Mart. A full range of rental equipment was on display, from 48-foot aerial lifts to coloured barrier tape. |
Other statistics point to a very strong edition of the Toronto-based show. The show partner hotel, the DoubleTree Hilton, sold out its entire block of 151 room nights well before the show, and the overflow hotel, the Radisson, sold 17 room nights. The Canadian Rental Association Ontario’s banquet was the largest ever, with 152 registered guests. Bryan Baeumler’s appearance, the ROOTY award presentation and the seminars all drew enthusiastic crowds.
“We felt we were optimistic in hoping for 300 to 400 attendees,” show manager Ed Cosman, said. “As it happened, the show exceeded all expectations.”
Feedback from exhibitors on the show floor was overwhelmingly positive. “This is the best show we have had in 10 years,” Paul Everitt, Rentquip sales manager, said. The famous Rentquip Wheel of Fortune could be heard almost continuously on the first day.
The CRA Ontario will host its tabletop show next year, and the Rental Mart returns in March 2014, exact date to be determined.
Robertson Rent-All wins big
An interested crowd gathered at the Canadian Rental Service booth on the afternoon of the first day of the show to see the first-ever Rental Operator Of The Year award presented by George Olah of Abco Equipment, HGTV star Bryan Baeumler and your correspondent. A film crew was on hand to shoot the presentation for Canadian Rental Service, and the video will soon be posted to canadianrentalservice.com.
The ROOTY was awarded to Robertson Rent-All of Orleans, Ont. Owners Don, Cameron and D.J. Robertson were there to accept the plaque. ROOTY judge George Olah praised the winners, mentioning that they are second-generation rental owner-operators exemplifying the best values of a rental establishment. He said the judges were impressed that they were moving their family-run business up onto the next level without losing the personal family touch. “We looked at things like their crisp image, daily business practices, creative marketing, safety programs and their wonderful work in the community they live and work in,” Olah said. Cameron thanked his parents and everyone present, saying the award was a great achievement for him and the business.
The ROOTY judges’ choice of Roberston Rent-All was confirmed later that evening when Robertson also won the Canadian Rental Association Ontario’s Image Award!
More than just shopping
This year more than ever, the Canadian Rental Mart was about more than just shopping. Special events and presentations – Bryan Baeumler’s appearance, the seminars, the ROOTY presentation, the CRA banquet – were constantly happening in and around the show. In the same spirit, one exhibitor found a way to use his investment in booth space at the show to generate more value for his business apart from having a showcase for his products. A.E. Sales had a new addition to its Billy Goat product line at the show, and Jeff Hill from Billy Goat was at the Rental Mart to help A.E. promote it. So Jerry Elmquist, A.E.’s Ontario manager, made arrangements with show management to bring in 20 sales representatives from nearby Home Depot locations to get training on the new product right on the show floor before the show opened on the first day. Elmquist got an opportunity to give his dealers valuable training all in one place at one time, Billy Goat got some nice exposure to a key dealer and a chance to educate its downstream sales force and the Rental Mart got 20 more attendees on the floor walking around after the training session. It was a win-win-win proposition and show management hopes it will see the show floor used for gatherings and meetings of this kind more often.
Another positive trend on the show floor was the prominently advertised show specials. Show specials used to be an almost automatic feature of a supplier’s booth, but then they went away for many years, possibly as a reaction to the rising costs of participation in trade shows. Now, some vendors appear to be bringing the concept back. Uniquip and Rentquip, to name just two, were offering show specials. Exhibitors said it made sense to give customers some discount at the show both to drive traffic at the show and because machinery purchased there did not have to be shipped back to the warehouse.
The fun booth
At the heart of the show was the CRA booth, staffed by national executive director Mandy Wellnitz, national senior vice-president Jeff Campbell and the Ontario board. There was always a lively crowd at this booth, drawn by Bryan Baeumler, CRA national president Ed Dwyer and Flat James, a cardboard cutout of James Morden that is achieving fame thanks to its video-recorded tour of New Orleans shot by CRA B.C.’s Angie Venekamp. That video was screened at the cocktail reception prior to the CRA Ontario banquet, which was the first time Morden had seen it.
|Several attendees took advantage of the chance to hear George Olah discuss safety regulations. Mark Peart’s seminar on lawn care was well attended and very informative.|
His reaction was duly recorded and is now posted on the CRA’s Facebook page.
The CRA Ontario banquet was celebrating the association’s 50th year in existence and was the largest it has ever been at 152 attendees. The murder-mystery dinner entertainment by Big Time Productions, Silence of the Hams, was well executed and funny. CRA Ontario president Mike Maltby read out the list of past presidents of the Ontario CRA, and several were in the room to be recognized, including Wally Carruthers who had been president in 1972.
Robertson Rent-All won the Image Award, Randy Turner of BestWay Rent-All won Rental Person of the Year and Neil Courneya took home Supplier of the Year on behalf of Hy-Cor International.
Spirits were high in the hospitality suite following the CRA Ontario banquet. Details are fuzzy, but unconfirmed reports suggest the location of the suite moved several times and the party was eventually broken up by a large, uninvited light source in the eastern sky.