Canadian Rental Association
Year of service
By Carroll McCormick
A born entrepreneur and people person, Andrew Paquette didn’t miss a beat when technology came calling with new ways to stay connected to others. The website for his company, Bravo Location Rentals Inc., attests to that: One part online shopping centre for whatever the heart desires for a gathering, one part peek-a-boo into parties that Bravo is setting up and also one part commentary and advice column
By Carroll McCormick
A born entrepreneur and people person, Andrew Paquette didn’t miss a beat when technology came calling with new ways to stay connected to others. The website for his company, Bravo Location Rentals Inc., attests to that: One part online shopping centre for whatever the heart desires for a gathering, one part peek-a-boo into parties that Bravo is setting up and also one part commentary and advice column, Paquette believes that what works for his company can also work for the Canadian Rental Association (CRA) and its members.
|Bravo clients can discuss their needs with sales staff in the company’s airy showroom.|
Paquette will become the new CRA president at the annual general meeting in February being held in Orlando, Fla., and he has communication on his mind. “Our members lack time. Let’s make dealing with CRA as efficient as possible. Getting more services from CRA; for example, reserving for events, ordering clothing, supplies and documents on the web, will be a good step toward that.”
Though not addicted to technology (he can eat an entire half-portion of pasta without even glancing at his BlackBerry) Paquette wants to bring CRA’s members closer together, have them share news of local events, government policies, business opportunities, laws and whatever else can help them. Possible ways to do this include text-messaging, using Twitter and sending e-mails to members who fall between the info-cracks.
“I also want CRA vendors to be more visible to potential clients. For example, we contacted the organizing committee of the Olympics and told them if they have requirements for tools, equipment, etc., that there are CRA members in Vancouver, and we encouraged the Olympic committee to contact them for their rental needs,” Paquette says.
Paquette wants to hear about the existence of non-members as well. After all they are all potential CRA members themselves. “More members will allow us to develop new membership benefits, including education opportunities, such as learning seminars.” After all, he adds, “We are in the membership services business, creating networking opportunities, putting CRA in touch with vendors, manufacturers and distributors.”
It is hard to argue with success: A lifelong Montreal resident, Paquette launched his first business in high school as a deejay. He later founded Action Audio, a sound reinforcement and staging company and accumulated seven years of business experience by the time he finished his Bachelor of Arts in economics at Concordia University in 1982.
|Bravo Location Rentals owner Andrew Paquette mixes fun with a sharp business sense.|
In 1984 he joined his father, one of the founders of the construction equipment and rental leasing chain Lou-Tec. Not long afterward, however, he followed his heart back to the event industry and founded Bravo.
The range of supplies on display in the company showroom runs from A to Z. There is stemware of all description and silver-plated sugar bowls, creamers, cake platters, trays and candlestick holders. Carpet samplers, vases and street lamps stand across from cutlery galore, mixers, waffle makers, serving dishes and coffee makers. Tents that fold like huge umbrellas shade swatches of fabric and heavy-duty hardware, including a Blodgett oven, Anvil deep fryer, Garland stove and an insulated box for shipping hot food on airplanes, if you wish. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, of which he probably has three copies for rent. Out back of the showroom and in warehouses scattered around town are enough supplies to kit out parties – indoors, outdoors, rain or shine – for thousands.
As well as his term as CRA vice-president, Paquette has had other association responsibilities. In 1999 the American Rental Association (ARA) invited him to develop a multi-disciplined, national educational certification program for the party and event industry. He is an elected Canadian director of ARA and was appointed a 2008/2009 member of ARA’s executive committee.
|Event rental is as much about transforming|
a location as it is about removing customer worry. This is an area
where Bravo Location Rentals excels.
Perhaps this cross-border activity explains why Paquette is passionate about the cross-border pollination of ideas and activities. He wants to bring American and Canadian vendors together for workshops and conferences. He also wants to see a concerted effort to market to the border states and tell CRA members about border-state events. He’d even like to share events between the border states and provinces. “Let’s capitalize on opportunities for more co-operation and synergy with our members in the U.S.,” Paquette declares.
He also wants more webinars – seminars hosted on the Internet. “Webinars are an effective way to learn new information. They are hosted by ARA and are available to CRA members. “Those who participated in the last one well appreciated what they learned, but I would like to see a much higher level of participation. This goes back to the need to share information,” Paquette says.
He also wants CRA members to spread the word about local shows, which likely fly under the radar of members elsewhere in the country. “We need to invite more people to the events and trade shows. If we invite everyone across Canada to a show in, say, British Columbia, someone might take time off from their vacation to attend.”
Paquette believes CRA has many successes to be proud of and on which it can continue to build; for example, RentTech and NextGen seminars, the latter of which deals with the issues of working with family members. “Ongoing in the presidential mandate is developing more such seminars,” he says.
|Among its 22 local competitors, Bravo has the biggest showroom. The décor is changed every month.|
Another CRA coup is the Protected Self-Insurance Program. This private pool of member money for insurance, says Paquette, “has let us provide consistent member coverage because an actuary can come up with a better assessment of risk with a large pool of members. It was a pleasure, as vice-president, to see this process come to fruition and see these benefits to our members.”
Among Paquette’s goals as CRA president are making the newsletters better and providing more tools to independent vendors who, Paquette notes, have done well in this recession. He’d also like to disseminate knowledge of legislative issues and infrastructure projects that could put money in vendors’ pockets. Overall, Paquette would like to get members excited and active. “I have come to a place in my life where I think I should give something back. It is a pleasure to get tough questions from an entry-level person. I have lots to tell him. It is a rewarding business to be in and I have made countless friends,” Paquette says.
As for what to expect at the ARA Rental show in Orlando, Paquette counsels, “A whole lot of partying, drinking and carrying on. And while we are there we will attend some educational seminars and spend lots of money on the show floor in Canadian dollars that are almost at par with the US dollar. It should be great.”