Next week is the ARA show and there is a strong expectation among vendors that turnout will be sparse. I have no inside information on the matter, I haven't spoken to anybody at ARA about pre-registration stats, but I think they are probably correct in their expectation. ARA is historically very much a buying show and it's not exactly a new revelation that most rental companies aren't buying much this year. And the destination in itself will not be a draw for many. Nothing wrong with Atlanta, but it doesn't draw people the way Las Vegas and Orlando do and New Orleans used to. I talk to a lot of rental people on an ongoing basis and a number of people who regularly attend ARA have told me they aren't this year.
That said, I hope we're wrong for quite a few reasons. Even if you aren't buying, there is no place where you can “kick the tires” on so many different types of equipment oriented towards rental. This year rental people will find some great deals because a lot of manufacturers are eager to sell and will offer attractive terms. Rental companies need to be prepared for when the economy does pick up. What usually happens then is that everybody tries to buy as much equipment as possible and manufacturers that have reduced capacity suddenly can't keep up and long lead times force rental companies to be unable to handle demand.
And of course, ARA is a great show in the respect that you have the opportunity to talk with so many rental people who are facing so many of the same challenges you are. It's a great opportunity to network and find out what other people are doing to address these challenges. Strategies, survival tips, how to survive and prosper and lay a stronger foundation for the future – these issues will be on the minds of many. The great thing about the ARA show is you can talk with rental people from all over the U.S. and some international rental people as well. It's not like sharing secrets with the competitor down the street who might use them against you. You might discuss strategies with somebody who operates in another state or region who will never compete against you.
And while you are there, if you are, please stop by and say hello to us at the RER booth, #3507. Why do we attend the show? Well, speaking for me personally, I go to a few press conferences, conduct a few interviews, take a look to see what's new in equipment, talk with many of the vendors about trends in equipment and in the business overall.
But beyond all those reasons, what I really go for is to have the opportunity to talk with a lot of rental people, to find out what's going on in the industry. Usually when people ask me what I liked most about the show, what I most remember are the people who I met casually, people who stopped by our booth, people I met at other booths, people I met in line to buy coffee or on the shuttle bus. Often the unexpected casual contacts with people I didn't even know before turn out to be the most memorable moments of the show. So please stop by and say hello to myself and other members of RER's staff who are at the show.
See you there.