The word community is defined as "a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals."
That perfectly describes the vibe at the Northwest Rental Conference, held Nov. 2-4 in Seattle. We'd heard great things about this 15-year-old conference, and since we needed to be in Seattle around that time for a separate meeting, we attended with the goal of networking with readers. What we learned was a lesson in the meaning of community and how to build it.
From speaking to attendees and organizers, it's clear learning opportunities and networking are among the top priorities for the rental professionals. They look forward to the seminars, which this year ranged in topics from compaction principles and tent ballasting to safety meeting planning and floor sanding practices. While fundamental in nature, attendees said these learning opportunities are what draw them to the conference. Many attendees we talked to said they get the most value from the discussion portion of the seminars, when their peers actively trade ideas.
NWRC attendeees also appreciate the 80-some equipment exhibits showcasing everything from light earthmoving equipment to aerial lifts and general light equipment and tools. Most exhibitors send local dealer representatives. All social events on the agenda include exhibitors, which attendees and and exhibitors appreciate because it gives them ample time to form and solidify relationships, i.e., build community.
The NWRC is unique among industry events. Independently operated by a volunteer board of directors made up of ARA Region 8 members, the show has the blessing of the American Rental Association, but is not officially affiliated with the organization. The NWRC was formed by a group of business people simply looking to rekindle the camaraderie and networking once enjoyed at the ARA's Western regional shows, which were discontinued around 2000.
In a time when communication depends so much on email, texts and social media, it's gratifying to witness the truly personal interaction of like-minded professionals outside of the hustle and bustle of the typical trade show setting. Kudos to the people running the NWRC who are meeting a need in their market while working hard to build and foster their community.