What’s New at The ARA Show?

By Kate Branum

As the equipment and event rental industry continues to grow and thrive, so does the event that celebrates it – The ARA Show. The American Rental Association (ARA) annual trade show and convention will make its way back to the West Coast in 2019, landing in Anaheim, Calif., for the first time since 2003.

This premiere event allows members to discover up-and-coming products and vendors, network and share ideas with industry peers, and attend educational sessions led by industry experts. These opportunities, combined with the many attractions featured in and around Anaheim can help attendees “work and play the California way.”

The ARA Show 2019 will take place Feb. 17-20 at the Anaheim Convention Center (ACC). The 1.8 million-square-foot facility, which is located right next to Disneyland, will house more than 700 exhibitors – including 60 first-time exhibitors – featuring more than 300 product categories for the three-day event.

On Feb. 16, Events & Tents, the annual pre-show workshop designed exclusively for party and event rental professionals, will feature an opening and closing keynote session led by Alan Berg, a wedding and event business expert who is a Certified Speaking Professional and sales trainer for the WeddingWire, a wedding technology company.

New for 2019, each Events & Tents workshop will be categorized into specific “tracks” – sales and marketing, operations and management – to allow attendees to identify which sessions are most beneficial and relevant for their businesses.

Events & Tents will conclude with an optional reception, held at 6 p.m. at the Rumba Room Live, a Latin-themed lounge in downtown Anaheim.

The show includes a full day of educational seminars on Feb. 17, featuring presentations by 12 different industry experts, as well as four new Town Hall sessions – Young Professionals, Operations, Technology and Human Resources – led by panels of rental industry professionals.

The education sessions will spotlight current hot-button topics, such as maintaining a successful family business, learning to communicate effectively across generations, defining a company brand, and creating a secure company network to protect personal information.

The ARA Industry Awards Lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 17 will celebrate volunteer award winners who have helped shape the equipment and event rental industry. New for 2019, ARA also will recognize the more recent Rental Hall of Fame inductees during the lunch.

Following the seminars, members of ARA’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) are invited to gather for a reception from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at The Fifth – Anaheim’s only rooftop restaurant and bar. These members will have a chance to make new YPN connections while taking in aerial views of Disneyland and an evening fireworks show.

On Monday, Feb. 19, from 8-9:30 a.m., those with full registration to the show can attend the keynote address led by Kevin O’Leary, a professional investor and cast member of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” Having launched several successful business ventures throughout his extensive career, “Mr. Wonderful” will share his top tips for developing a strong business model (see sidebar for more information).

After the keynote, attendees will have a chance to meet and have a photo taken with O’Leary at the ARA Resource Center, located on the show floor. The trade show will open immediately following the keynote session at 9:30 a.m. and remain open until 5 p.m.

In addition, new sponsorships for 2019 will include two indoor exhibit hall courtyards, located near the concession stands on the show floor, where attendees can take a break from browsing and grab some lunch.

The show will continue Tuesday, Feb. 18, with the show floor open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

That evening, attendees are invited to ARA’s Block Party, which will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Grand Plaza Foyer, located just outside of the ACC. The party will include a variety of outdoor games, sample fare from local food trucks – including Barcelona, TJ’s Woodfire Pizza, Devilicious, The Coconut Truck, Kala Truck, Nostimo Greek, In-N-Out Burger and Drizzle – and live music from the Party Crashers.

For more information about The ARA Show, visit www.ARAshow.org.


Kate Branum is junior editor at the American Rental Association.



Time for a Makeover

ARA’s annual convention and trade show takes on a new identity

In the ever-evolving construction and event rental industry, embracing and implementing change is necessary. To reflect a new era for the industry it serves, the American Rental Association (ARA) decided that it was time to go in a different, more modern direction.

ARA launched its rebranding initiative in October 2017 with the help of a six-member Brand Committee comprised of marketing professionals and individuals who had recently gone through a rebranding process. After months of setting goals, reviewing designs and gathering feedback, a new logo and logo family were revealed.

While the new ARA logo still gives a nod to the previous one, it has been brought into the modern era with a vibrant color palette and contemporary typeface. In addition, the triangle within the logo was redesigned to include three smaller triangles, representing the three segments of the industry: construction/industrial, general tool, and party and event.

“The logo change was important for two reasons,” said Tony Conant, CEO, ARA. “The first was to make sure that it was consistent with the ARA brand family that we created for the main logo, and the second was to make sure it was digital media-friendly and would look good when used for social media and other digital distribution methods that the previous logo wasn’t consistent with.”

While going through the rebranding process, ARA also discovered that the name “The Rental Show” didn’t resonate with the new ARA brand. To build a distinct connection between the industry’s annual trade show and convention and the ARA brand, the event is now known as The ARA Show.

“We wanted to tie the show closely with the ARA brand,” said Conant. “We had members come into the ARA Resource Center who didn’t understand the connection between ARA and the show, so it was necessary to make it very clear to everyone coming to the show that it is a program put on by the ARA.”

Conant believes that the timing was right to revamp the ARA brand family, and it has been well received by members.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, I don’t think I’ve gotten one piece of negative feedback,” said Conant. “There is a lot of marketing work going into the rebranding of the show. All of the show materials have been rebranded with the new logo and again, the early feedback has been really positive, and I expect a lot more of that once we get to the show.”


Swimming with the sharks

Kevin O’Leary to headline The ARA Show keynote in Anaheim, Feb. 18, 8 a.m.

As a cast member of the ABC reality show “Shark Tank,” Canadian investor Kevin O’Leary knows what it takes to turn ideas into lucrative careers. Famous for his matter-of-fact assessments, “Mr. Wonderful” – the playful nickname given to him by “Shark Tank” co-star Barbara Corcoran – uses his extensive business expertise to help budding entrepreneurs.

Though he has worn many different hats throughout his career, he has ended up exactly where he first started – in a television studio. Shortly after completing his MBA, O’Leary founded Special Event Television, an independent production company that produced original sports programming, including “The Original Six,” “Don Cherry’s Grapevine” and “Bobby Orr and the Hockey Legends.”

In 1986, O’Leary’s focus shifted from TV to technology. He founded SoftKey Software Products – later called The Learning Co. SoftKey was one of the first software companies to apply the principles of consumer goods marketing to the software industry. The company launched at a pivotal time for technology as more American families began to buy software for education and entertainment.

By 1998, SoftKey had become the world’s second largest consumer software company, with annual sales climbing to more than $800 million. The company was acquired by Mattel in 1999.

In 2003, O’Leary co-founded Storage Now, a developer of climate-controlled storage facilities, and in 2007, he became a founding investor and director of Stream Global Services, Boston, which focused on the rapidly growing outsourcing business services market.

Today, O’Leary serves as the chairman of O’Shares Investments; the founder and chief sommelier of award-winning label O’Leary Fine Wines; a member of Boston’s 107-year-old Hamilton Trust; and the founder of O’Leary Financial Group.

In addition to “Shark Tank,” O’Leary is a regular contributor on ABC, CNBC and CVT, and has appeared as a television host and personality on a range of shows, including Discovery Channel’s “Project Earth” and CBC’s “Dragon’s Den.” He also is a best-selling author of two financial self-help books: Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women and Money, and Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money.



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