By Martin Forgues
March 19, 2015 - Trade shows usually remain quiet around opening time – most activity revolves around the various kiosks where sales reps get ready to meet and greet rental business owners, hoping they got in an early “Black Friday” mode to buy the various equipments, ranging from light powertools to heavily-polished lifts and vehicles. But on March 11, this relative sense of calmness contrasted with the excitement of one dynamo who kept running up and down the aisles of Laval’s Plaza Forzani, which held Quebexpo 2015.
By Martin Forgues
Newly appointed as managing director of the Canadian Rental Association, Nathalie McGregor jumped on the rental business bandwagon after spending years in the non-profit world. “I wasn’t that familiar with the rental business when I started my mandate last year, but I love a good challenge”, she said before mentioning that her French/English bilingualism and love for contact with the public have proven to be quite an asset over the year during which she held her tenure. “I love working for people, helping them connect”.
She also innovated for this year’s edition with a new feature that proves quite popular both with dealers and shoppers. “We set up a rest area, complete with comfortable stools and free coffee and water. It brings people together in a very natural and relaxed way”, said McGregor.
With a background in accounting and sales, she confidently tackled the task of organizing the show on behalf of the Canadian Rental Association – the QRA acting as “field operators,” making sure that sparks flash between the reps showing off their latest gear and the business owners, some of them already emailing their bankers.
“We expect around 300 to 350 visitors. I’d say that Quebexpo is quite a success”, said McGregor.
Sitting at a stool in the QRA’s kiosk and chatting both with fellow business owners and QRA volunteers, Benoit Légaré, the association’s treasurer and owner of Location Pro, based in Quebec City, echoed his manager’s sentiment. “I buy most of my equipment here at Quebexpo. The discounts that the exhibitors offer during shows make a huge difference. Even if I don’t buy, I make contacts, which can always be useful later”, he said. “I’m assuming double duties today – recruiting new members and going on a shopping spree”, he said.
QRA and CRA members attend for free, while a $90 price tag hits the wallets of non-members. “Free entrance to Quebexpo is a great way to recruit new members”, said Légaré.
Roughly an hour after opening time, the mood was already switching from calm to dynamic, with dozens of rental business owners chatting up with sales reps, trading business cards, negotiating deals and using smartphone banking apps to make on-the-spot transactions with their financial institutions. “Attendance is small compared to bigger shows in the U.S., but the atmosphere is far more convivial,” said Tom Brennan from Inteq Distributors and one of 78 exhibitors present, which sells high-tech measure instruments aimed at the construction industry.
He should know, being used to much larger tradeshows and hauling his demonstrators from their Exeter, Ont., headquarters to as far as Louisiana.