Photo by Michael Roth, RER
Snorkel 2100 Sj At Ara Show 2021

Trends from the ARA Show and the News of the Month

Dec. 2, 2021
The ARA Show offered plenty of looks at new equipment with technological advancements.

Well, the ARA Show has come and gone, the first ARA show since the pandemic began. It was obviously different being held in October rather than February. One of the draws of the ARA show is that when it’s held in winter, a lot of people are thrilled to go on a business trip away from cold winter weather locations to more southern climes. The show has traditionally been held in warmer cities such as Orlando, New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Anaheim. Also, people in the rental business usually are less busy in the winter months than they are in October, and the weather was not yet cold enough to send people south to Las Vegas.  

That and the fact that with the pandemic still very much in our thoughts, a lot of people are just more hesitant to travel. I know the ARA was not blind to these dynamics.

So, although I haven’t heard any official statistics on attendance, the impression people had around the show floor was that attendance was likely off about 25 percent and some vendors felt foot traffic was on the slow side. Don’t quote me on that yet until ARA releases its attendance figures. But more important to the exhibitors, people who were in attendance tended to be very serious about it – they tended to be there because they were really looking for equipment. Most exhibitors seemed to feel the show was well worth it by whatever criteria they measure it, either by actual sales or just the opportunity to be with their customers.

Also, I got the feeling from talking to rental people at the show that despite the problems we’ve all been through over the last year and a half, people were upbeat about the amount of business they have on the books or are expecting in the year ahead. It was good to see, and there was a lot of great equipment to see.

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In the November issue of RER, you can see a lot of industry trends just by looking through our Industry News section starting on page 8. It starts off with news about another acquisition by Herc Rentals, which has made quite a few lately (and just as we’re going to press Herc announced another one, Reliable Equipment in New Hampshire.) Two companies in Texas and two in Canada and now New Hampshire, so Herc is clearly on a growth path.

The trend of more dealers getting seriously involved in rental is something to explore in the latest news. Briggs Equipment, long primarily a dealership although it had a strong rental presence, has now started SitePro Rentals, focusing on rent to rent. SitePro is launching with nine branches in Texas, and a few more in Louisiana and Georgia.

Also on the acquisition trail is National Equipment Dealers, which is made up of five companies – dealers with a lot of focus on rental. Equipment dealers are very important for the equipment channel and the sale of new equipment, used equipment, service and rentals all blending together to provide the complete package of equipment services is a combination that we are seeing more of. Sometimes customers need to rent and sometimes they need to buy, and always they need personal service and digital and technical support with sophisticated telematics systems.

Rental Equipment Investment Corp. continues to grow its presence in the Intermountain region and Pacific Northwest with a new specialty branch of Construction Heaters Inc.

Another example of the growing importance of technology is virtual reality and if you haven’t stepped into a virtual reality simulator from Serious Labs or JLG you are missing something fascinating. Serious Labs just took another step -- if you or your customers have PAL cards, you can now renew them by taking the test in a Serious Labs virtual reality simulator. It tests your skills and will let you know your strengths and weaknesses in a way nothing else will. It’s as good as being in the air and it will teach you things you might never be able to learn in the real world. And if you get vertigo and are afraid of heights, it can help you overcome it.

There’s more to discuss but I’m about out of space. Let me know if you think my observations on trends are right or wrong. I hope to hear from you.