The 59th edition of The Rental Show, held Feb. 22-25, 2015, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans did not disappoint, even with greater anticipation and higher expectations than in previous years among attendees and exhibitors.
From the sold-out Events & Tents workshop prior to the opening of the show on Saturday, Feb. 21, and strong attendance at the wide variety of seminars on Sunday, Feb. 22, to the keynote session featuring Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and an exhibit floor with more than 675 exhibitors, rental store attendees as well as manufacturers and suppliers were much more confident.
After experiencing growth over the last few years, there was a general feeling that better days are ahead, leading to a successful show both from the buyer and seller perspectives.
“This year is probably one of the best shows I’ve ever attended. I thought the energy from everybody involved was really positive,” said Maria Corvallis, Peter Corvallis Productions, Portland, OR.
“The economy has changed enough that we all are at the same place now and we’re all ready to dig in and do business as business, so it’s really great to associate with the vendors and other rental companies and feel like we’re all in it at the same pace now,” she said.
Many other rental store attendees echoed her assessment of the show.
“I do feel more confident in buying this year and I’m excited to dive in. On some equipment this year we also changed brands. We have never done that before, but we did it because of the advice of other people. The networking at the show is awesome,” said Beth Hoff Blackmer, Aspen Rent-All, Basalt, CO.
“The show has been a lot of energy with a lot of people in New Orleans and a lot of buying. Members were flooding the show floor and vendors were excited to see people coming. There was a lot of buying and positive attitudes,” said Paul Phelon, Timp Rental Center, Orem and American Fork, Utah, and president of the American Rental Association (ARA), organizer of The Rental Show.
“We’ve increased our budget each year over the last three or four years and this is the second-biggest buying show in the history of our company,” Phelon said.
Josh Nickell, Nickell Equipment Rental & Sales, Newnan, GA, said his company is in the process of opening a new branch, making the show an opportune time to find deals to build inventory.
“With our new location opening in March, the show allowed us to quickly compare many options and place a bunch of orders quickly. The Show-Only Specials pricing didn’t hurt either,” Nickell said.
“All the vendors I spoke with were smiling ear-to-ear. They said they had been writing orders nonstop and had an exciting show. For us, two of our managers had the opportunity to come for the first time and they were blown away by the size and quality of the show. It’s one thing to hear about it, but there is nothing like experiencing it,” he said.
“The buzz of positivity and cautious optimism from last year has continued into this year, and after a few solid years, rental store owners are more relaxed and more enthusiastic about growing fleets than even last year,” Nickell said.
Christine Wehrman, ARA’s executive vice president and CEO, was pleased with the way attendees and exhibitors were enjoying one another, participating fully in the programs and events, and using the networking opportunities the show provides.
“Everything at the show was working at the highest level this year. There was interest in equipment, purchasing of equipment, great networking and great attitudes from all attendees, including rental stores, manufacturers, suppliers and exhibitors. There is a wonderfully optimistic outlook for the future of the equipment rental industry, short-term and long-term,” Wehrman said.
“Everyone is very confident of the future being a stronger marketplace and they are investing in the growth of the industry,” Wehrman said.
Many vendors reported brisk sales and activity, particularly on the opening day, and many were pleased with the results.
“People this year were coming with shopping lists to buy and they were more deliberate,” said Ron Johnson, FTG Equipment Solutions, Carneys Point, NJ.
“We’ve seen even better traffic than last year,” said Scott Smith, Ditch Witch Organization, Perry, OK. “Our two-day quotes total and sales total exceeded all of last year’s show. What we’ve been saying over the past couple of years is that there is increasing optimism in the rental marketplace and that is reconfirmed this year. There is more pronounced business and it is national, not regional.”
“People were buying from the beginning of the show and others were shopping and then coming back to finalize quotes,” said Clay Eubanks, Takeuchi Manufacturing (U.S.), Pendergrass, GA. “We knew it was going to be good because the economy overall is doing better. The show this year was like the old days with a buzz and buying activity.”
“If you look at the past three years, we’ve seen a progression in increased traffic. This year I think it’s been terrific. The first day we never had a chance to breathe. We’ve sold systems. This might be our best show in years. I’m excited because it feels like business is back. It just feels good. I feel like people are buying,” said Larry Weeman, Party Track-Event Rental Systems, Surprise, AZ.
Kevin Swope, Arrow Material Handling Products, Lenexa, KS, said he saw more traffic at his booth than he can remember ever having before.
“I’ve been to the show the last eight years and I’m usually here to try to get contacts with OEMs looking to do business, which I’ve done, but this year I’ve also been writing orders and have pending quotes. It’s been a great show,” Swope said.
“Not only was the foot traffic nice, but the attitude of the customer was different,” said Dave Garton, Case Construction Equipment, Racine, WI.
“One buyer from Michigan said, ‘I really think dirt equipment is making a comeback right now.’ For us, that’s great to hear. We had good, positive feedback from the customers and it was really busy. Customers also weren’t just buying one or two machines. They were making orders for six to 10 pieces of equipment. In our opinion, the show this year was a homerun,” Garton said.