Focusing on a positive future at The ARA Show

Oct. 24, 2021

Attendees and exhibitors were not quite sure what to expect when they arrived in Las Vegas for The ARA Show™ 2021, the first time the equipment and event rental community would have had the opportunity to meet in person since February 2020.

However, once people arrived at the education sessions, the Keynote Session and the trade show, there was an initial euphoria to be able to interact, see old friends, get back to buying and selling, and prepare for a positive future.

“It is amazing to be back at The ARA Show. It’s great to see everyone’s faces. It’s great to connect. It’s great to catch up. That’s the one thing I’ve missed over the last 18 months is not being able to connect and tell stories and basically pick up where we all left off,” said Brittany Vruno, CERP, Crown Rental, Burnsville, Minn.

“The show has been great for us this year. We’ve been busy buying. We bought a few new things to add to our inventory. To really go with the theme of the show, we are focusing on our future. We are buying stuff now for further down the line than we would have normally purchased,” Vruno said.

“It’s really exciting. I get to see friends. I have employees pulling us from booth to booth. It is wonderful to be here. If you didn’t make the trip, you missed out,” said Trish Southard, D.J.’s Rentals & Sales, Elk City, Okla.

“Coming to the show is a big part of our business process every year. Last year, being interrupted, changed stuff, so it’s exciting to be back. Coming to The ARA Show gets you motivated for the year. We’re going to be taking the temperature of the environment and get a feel for where pricing is at, but we do have some things on our shopping list. We’re here to plan for the future,” said Ryan Kucera, Rental City, Omaha, Neb.

Overall, foot traffic on the show floor was fairly steady throughout the three days, but also spread out across two floors and an outside area, allowing people to adhere to social distancing while also checking out new and different products and services available from the more than 600 exhibitors.

Several exhibitors said they were pleasantly surprised as many attendees were at the show to make orders.

“It’s really refreshing and a great feeling to be back at the show. Our team is excited to be here. The past 18 months have been really challenging for everyone,” said Scott Pevey, Ditch Witch, Perry, Okla., and an American Rental Association (ARA) associate member director.

“Traffic was really good, and we were excited about that. It was hard to guess what it was going to look like. We are very encouraged. There is nothing like face to face, being able to talk to customers and answer their questions in person,” Pevey said.

“It truly has been overwhelming. Everybody is excited to be back, to ask questions, to get information for things and solve problems. But they are mainly here to buy. It’s been a great buying show. We’ve loved it. It’s almost more than we can handle for people in the booth. That’s the problem you want to have,” said Chuck Shipp, Shipp Cleaning Systems, Conyers, Ga.

Jason Stanczyk, EDCO, Frederick, Md., said his company’s booth had been busy as well. “We did not know what to expect and we didn’t really know who was coming, but it has been very positive because the decision-makers are here. There may not be as many people, but the people we are talking to are here to buy,” he said.

“It feels fantastic to be back and great to be amongst the industry again and see everybody. It’s great to be outside the house. Our staff, except for a couple of people, have barely traveled, so to have that sense of normalcy is fantastic and we’re glad ARA moved forward with having the show,” Stanczyk said.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but we have been slammed. It’s gone better than expected and the right people are here from our customer standpoint. It’s been good,” said Amanda Gray, Georgia Expo Manufacturing Co., Suwanne, Ga.

“We made up our total cost for being at the show in the first four hours we were here on the first day,” said Stephanie Thanem, Foam Daddy, Tempe, Ariz., a first-time exhibitor. “We’ve had a lot of good feedback from everyone.”

Torrey Babson, Weather Warranty, Westfield Center, Ohio, also a first-time exhibitor, had a similar reaction. “It’s been exciting for us as this is our first time at The ARA Show. There’s been a lot of interest. We’ve had a lot of people come wanting to talk and seek us out. It’s been a really, really good show for us and a great unveiling of our product publicly in a larger format like this. We have a lot of follow-ups to do over the next week,” Babson said.

Kim Jaques, Advantage Sales & Supply, Ridgway, Pa., another first-time exhibitor, said a customer recommended that the company come to The ARA Show. “When we looked into it, we decided that it would be a good fit for us. We’ve been pleasantly surprised, it’s been very busy, and we’ve had some good leads and feedback from people who have visited our booth,” she said.

The ARA Show has long been known as a “buying” show, but in today’s environment, it was difficult to know what to expect from the seller’s side although there were some clues when ARA, on Oct. 18, released its latest five-year forecast for equipment rental revenue, comprised of the construction/industrial and general tool segments.

The outlook remains very positive for 2021 and beyond as the updated third quarter forecast shows equipment rental revenue is expected to exceed $47.6 billion in 2021, a 3 percent increase over 2020. While that number is slightly less than the second quarter forecast, 2022 revenue now is expected to grow at a 9.9 percent clip to reach $52.4 billion, which will be a record for the equipment rental industry, topping the $50.9 billion recorded in 2019.

Equipment rental companies significantly cut investment in equipment in 2020 during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, spending 44.4 percent less in 2020, dropping investment in equipment to $7.64 billion. However, the forecast shows that investment in 2021 should grow by 36.2 percent to $10.4 billion, followed by another 36 percent increase in 2022 to total $14.2 billion, a signal that those in the industry were intending to make orders at the show.

For example, Lance Brown, Pilchuck Rentals, Marysville, Wash., who has attended the show in the past, said he came back this year for “the feeding frenzy and to buy stuff. You have to gear up and make sure your fleet is right. There are longer lead times and we need to order in advance. There is no more buying stuff today and getting it tomorrow. So, now you have to look at six to eight months down the road before you can get stuff. We’re here to buy, buy, buy.”

“We are ready to do some buying. Being at the show is a great opportunity for us to get out, look at what’s become available in the last 18 months and see what we can add to our inventory,” said Brittany Sherwood, Tents Unlimited, Torrington, Conn.

“Material handling equipment is on our shopping list this year. With the labor shortage we’re leaning more on the people we have, so we need to give our guys better tools to work efficiently and safely,” said Courtney Tamuzza, A Party Center, Fairfield, N.J.

“We’re involved in construction equipment and need to expand what we carry in our store. I came to the show to get some ideas on that, and to look at software systems. Orlando was my first ARA Show, so this is my second time, and it feels good to be out doing this stuff again. It’s been difficult, but we’ve managed through it,” said John Odle, Parish Rents, Poplarville, Miss.

Joe Lapekas, Big Ass Equipment Rentals, Page, Ariz., said he has been looking for software and equipment. “It’s a good show. It’s good to see people back. It’s good to see all the vendors here,” he said.

“We’re in a very remote location in northern Arizona, so we don’t have a peer group to talk to or other rental businesses. It’s good to come here. The mood is quite upbeat. Everybody’s taking orders. If it’s available for sale, it’s sold — which tells you people need equipment, which means they’re renting equipment and I think it’s a very positive market,” Lapekas said.

“It’s awesome to be here — long overdue. Everyone has really needed this. It’s a little bit of normalcy,” said Angie Sherwood, Redi Rental, Muskegon, Mich., who arrived with a long shopping list of needed items for the company’s rental inventory.

“It’s fantastic to be back and to see everybody, without a doubt. With the pandemic, we had a lot of time to do things that we’ve wanted to do for a long time. One of these was telematics. I’ve been working on that with a lot of different companies. Now I want to take that information back to the manufacturers and have specific conversations with each of them to ask, ‘What can you do for me, and what kind of products do you have that can incorporate into what we’re already doing?’ So, I have a plan and a goal here at the show,” said Dave Mansbart, ABLE Equipment Rental, Deer Park, N.Y.

“We’re definitely going to Orlando for the next show. Truthfully, since taking over our rental company four years ago, our involvement with the ARA has made our business easier — 100 percent. Between the insurance, the shows, the contacts, the magazine’s information — it totally helps us. As someone who is new to the industry, ARA is awesome,” said Christin Davis, FST Rentals, Sierra Vista, Ariz.

Davis also appreciated the chance to network with others and enjoy celebrating the industry at ARA’s Oktoberfest…Las Vegas Style! “We had three generations there. The food was good, and the entertainment was awesome. We had a super good time,” Davis said.

In addition to the trade show, ARA offered a day of education with 16 seminars on Sunday, Oct. 17, in four tracks including business management, leadership and culture, technology and HR, and event.

On Monday, Oct. 18, the Keynote Session featured Carey Lohrenz — the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy and a pioneer in military aviation — who delivered a powerful, entertaining and inspirational message. The event, held at Resorts World in Las Vegas, was sponsored by ARA Insurance.

Lohrenz spoke of leadership, integrity, tenacity and focus to achieve goals. She shared some of her own experiences including overcoming obstacles, mindsets and stereotypes about a female fighter pilot.

Ken Followill, RentalMax, Carol Stream, Ill., said he enjoyed Lohrenz’s presentation.

“She’s somebody that made a difference on a big stage,” Followill said. “She did something that affected the world. She’s someone you can respect and aspire to be like.”

Carol Knight, Knights Tent and Party Rental, Pontiac, Mich., said Lohrenz’s presentation was amazing. "It was great. I think just more of getting a plan for the day and coming back and debriefing was great advice. A lot of times we’re running around so fast. I’m in the party rental part of it. You’re just trying to get the job done and not coming back and looking at everything again. That, to me, was a good takeaway.”

The session started with Tony Conant, ARA CEO, welcoming the equipment and event rental industry back together for the first time since the last show in February 2020.

“Welcome to The ARA Show 2021. I’ve been waiting for a while to say those words. It’s so good to be here,” Conant said.

He spoke about the strength of the industry and what ARA and its volunteer leaders have done to help ARA members navigate and make it through the pandemic. This includes Clean. Safe. Essential., an annual program focusing on safety, along with other training, the formation of the Economic Bridge Coalition and the creation of social media groups that helped members share stories and advice throughout the pandemic.

“We come every year because The ARA Show is the place to be if you’re in the rental business. It’s amazing to me that ARA pulled this off, being able to come to Las Vegas and the short time they were able to do it again. It’s been a great show. It’s a little bit less but that’s to be expected. I think, all in all, seeing so many people here, it’s definitely a big success,” said Craig Creamer, ABC Rental Center, Rosedale, Md.



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