SAN DIEGO — The California Rental Association's Rental Rally at the Town & Country Resort in San Diego last month met with a generally favorable reaction on the part of exhibitors and attendees. Marketing the event as a rental rally rather than a full-scale convention, CRA officials encouraged vendors to take small booths and made no promises about what kind of attendance to expect. Because exhibitors came without the high expectations that usually accompany a large convention, they were, in general, pleasantly surprised by the quantity and quality of attendees.
Unofficial attendance figures at the close of the show were 116 rental companies and 245 paid attendees. CRA executive director Chuck Maltese told RER he strongly encouraged owners of companies to attend, rather than sending large delegations of employees. As a result, most of the 104 exhibitors RER spoke with said they were pleased at the number of good leads or actual sales they made. And since most of the exhibitors took out small booths — the 104 exhibiting companies bought 140 booths — their expenses were often considerably lower than what they typically spend at trade shows.
“I had six or seven good quality leads,” said Bill Veneris of Alert Computers. “I couldn't ask for better than that.” Other computer vendors such as Jack Shea of Solutions by Computer and Robert Schaeffer of Point-of-Rental made similar comments. Several equipment manufacturers were pleased that they sold equipment at the show, rather than just made contacts.
An outdoor demo area on the hotel grounds was less successful, according to outdoor exhibitors who felt that traffic was minimal on the first day.
On the whole, both exhibitors and attendees praised the more casual atmosphere. Free breakfasts and lunches were provided by sponsoring manufacturers, which contributed to a casual atmosphere in which vendors and attendees mingled freely, as they did at three cocktail parties held on hotel grounds, on the eve of the show and at the close of each of the two exhibit days.
At the opening night cocktail party, CRA's James Gartland Award — named for the founder of RER Magazine and presented annually to an individual for contributions to the rental industry — was given to CRA's general counsel, attorney Les Chayo. Chayo was honored for his 17 years of legal services to the association and CRA members, including helping a number of members with sales and acquisitions of rental businesses. RER editor Michael Roth presented the award to Chayo.
The Bud Loeber Friendship Award was given to Jim Woodward of The Woodward Group, Glendora, Calif.
CRA announced it will hold another Rental Rally next year in Las Vegas, Oct. 14-16.