Making connections is what the American Rental Association’s (ARA) Young Professional Network (YPN) is all about. On Jan. 26-27, YPN members had the chance to rekindle industry friendships and spark new ones at the YPN Conference in San Antonio — the first in-person event of its kind since December 2019.
“I was able to catch up with a lot of folks that I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, and it was good to rebuild and rekindle those friendships,” says Richard Campbell, operations director, Boone Rent-All & Parties Too, Boone, N.C. “The best takeaways were the conversations with other rental stores, the relationships that were built there, commiserating and helping out as we all navigate similar waters.”
The historic San Antonio Riverwalk was the backdrop for the sold-out conference, which was hosted at the Hotel Contessa in San Antonio. Attendees kicked off the event with a welcome reception and “Custom Cocktail Challenge” on Wednesday, Jan. 26.
Then, on Thursday, Jan. 27, guest speaker Alyson Van Hooser delivered “Own Your Success,” an education program themed around elevating personal communication and planning, earning respect and gaining influence.
For attendees like Giovanni Femia, regional manager, Partner Rentals, Kingston, N.Y., who also serves on the ARA of New York board of directors, Van Hooser’s session was a highlight and consistent with the top-drawer education offered at ARA events.
“I know that education is always huge with ARA, so any education that comes with an event like this is a plus,” Femia says. “The speaker was great — very intuitive and very informative. Just her back story and the success that came from it was amazing.”
After the education sessions concluded on Thursday afternoon, it was time for some fun. Attendees were given the option to participate in any of three Riverwalk activities: a whiskey tasting at Devils River Distillery, an ax throwing competition at Classic Axe Throwing or a guided tour of the Alamo. No matter what activity attendees chose to pursue, the networking benefit of the YPN Conference followed.
“I wanted to do an event there was no way I could do at home, so I toured the Alamo,” says Allison McIntosh, operations manager, Taylor True Value Rental, Concord, N.H. and ARA of New Hampshire secretary.
“I went to the whiskey tasting at the distillery. A whiskey tasting is never a bad time. There was good whiskey and good conversations with other rental companies,” Campbell says.
Following the choose-your-own-adventure afternoon, YPN Conference attendees gathered that evening to close out the event at San Antonio’s Howl at the Moon piano bar.
At the conclusion of her first-ever YPN Conference, McIntosh says the event lived up to her expectations in facilitating connections with rental professionals in her own age group.
“I was most looking forward to connecting with people of my generation,” she says. “I work in a store that is owned by the second generation of a family and we hope to make that a third generation of ownership. Meeting other people who are in the industry and are my age, who have the same thoughts and aspirations, and are actively excited about the industry and their jobs is really important to me.”
Andrew Heesacker, president, Arvada Rent-Alls, Arvada, Colo., who also serves as ARA Region Seven director and chairs the ARA Young Professionals Committee, was thrilled with how the conference turned out as well as with the inclusion of the optional, post-event local school improvement project offered by the ARA Foundation and the Toro Company Foundation’s Community Impact Program.
“The event was awesome,” Heesacker says. “It was well planned out and the speaker was great. Everyone was engaged in both the educational aspect and the social aspect. And tacking on the volunteer project was great timing.”
ARA’s YPN connects more than 1,000 equipment and event rental industry professionals for leadership training, networking, education and more. To be eligible to join the YPN, you must be between the ages of 18 and 40 and affiliated with an ARA-member general or associate member operation. Click here to learn more and join YPN.