NEW ORLEANS, La. — The American Rental Association announced that it has cancelled the October trade show it was planning to produce in Las Vegas in cooperation with the California Rental Association. ARA executive vice president Christine Wehrman announced the cancellation at an exhibitor breakfast meeting at the ARA show in February. Wehrman told the surprised exhibitors that the ARA board of directors decided, based on feedback from exhibitors, diminishing exhibitor budgets, the current economic environment and the failure of ARA's city conference to draw solid attendance in recent years, that industry support would not be sufficient to warrant a fall show.
Wehrman added that cancellation of the fall show would allow the association to concentrate more effort and resources to prepare for the annual national show to be held next February in Anaheim, Calif. Wehrman encouraged manufacturers to participate in regional equipment rodeos and tabletop conferences as a low-cost means of enhancing their communication with members and promoting industry awareness of their products and services.
Wehrman also announced that next year's convention would be shortened to three days rather than the conventional four-day show.
While many industry participants greeted the announcements with enthusiasm, support was far from unanimous. A number of manufacturers expressed concern that the cancellation of the fall show will limit their ability to communicate with West Coast rental companies, whose personnel may be reluctant to travel to venues farther east such as Atlanta, Dallas and Orlando, Fla., where conventions are scheduled to be held in 2004 through 2006. CRA members expressed similar concerns, adding that the decision was contrary to the agreement reached by the two associations when they agreed to take steps to merge their organizations.
While many vendors had lobbied energetically for fewer shows, some said that the planned ARA/CRA joint show would be a new entity with strong growth potential, adding that they felt the need for a fall show to reach a concentrated number of rental customers.