Enthusiasm was so high for the first-ever in-person Women in Rental Summit, Jan. 25-27 in San Antonio, that it sold out quickly. That sentiment remained throughout the entire two days as the event provided exactly what attendees wanted — an opportunity to gain education, connection and support.
The event kicked off with a welcome reception, including a Texas Margarita Challenge, on Tuesday, Jan. 25.
The next morning, attendees had the option of taking part in sunrise yoga before breakfast and diving into a full day of education.
Kicking off the education portion was Barbara Khozam, former professional beach volleyball player, speaker and author of “How Organizations Deliver BAD Customer Service (and Strategies that Turn it Around).” In her presentation, “Elevate your performance — Distinguishing yourself from the competition with finesse and ease,” Khozam addressed how to deliver an extraordinary service experience, how to manage emotions and thrive under pressure, and how to communicate with all types of personalities during challenging times.
Then, Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president, Texas A&M University, San Antonio, and at-large member of the Girl Scouts of the USA National Board of Directors, talked about how the Girl Scouts are helping young women gain the skills needed to thrive and succeed in life. Dr. Teniente-Matson is not only a Girl Scouts alum and lifetime member, but she, along with the university, also has sponsored a Patriotism Patch with the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, which has fueled girls’ leadership on the local level.
After lunch, Renee Peterson, chief financial officer, The Toro Co., talked about executive leadership, relaying her unique road to success and the life lessons she has learned, including turning what others might consider obstacles into opportunities.
After her presentation, attendees had the opportunity for valuable networking time, either attending a wine tasting or touring the Alamo.
The evening concluded with a closing reception at the Howl at the Moon piano bar.
The next morning, an optional volunteer opportunity was offered with the ARA Foundation/Toro Company Foundation Community Impact Program. Many attendees helped refurbish Winston Elementary School.
For Laura Albert, director of business development, Interstate Rental Service, Boston, who serves as ARA of Massachusetts vice president, the conference hit all the
“I wanted to attend to meet other business owners and rental professionals from across the country who were dealing with the same challenges and triumphs as I have been in Boston. I wanted to go to become more energized about leadership and the direction we are taking the business as well as see how other women have balanced their personal and professional lives,” she says.
Michele Saxman, owner, Rapid Rentals & Sales, Brookfield, Ill., and ARA of Illinois board member, had a similar experience. “It was interesting to hear how familiar the same problems are. Whether you are renting tents or a bulldozer, you have the same issues in the company. There was discussion of how to maneuver through them. Barbara gave us some homework and had us discuss areas with those at our table. It was interesting how everyone handled those things. I saw quite a few similarities,” she says.
Allison McIntosh, operations manager, Taylor True Value Rental, Concord, N.H., and ARA of New Hampshire secretary, agrees. “I absolutely loved [Barbara], the speaker. Since the conference, I have strongly considered hosting an event here in New Hampshire and hiring her to come up and be the guest speaker for us because she was phenomenal — so inspiring and high-energy. That was great. The events at the Women in Rental Summit were awesome. I did the wine tasting. It was good connecting [with the people there]. I made sure to sit at a table with people I had never met before. I’ve already been in contact with one of the women since the conference, and that’s the whole goal of these things: to network with people you don’t know. So that was successful. It was nice to talk with other women who are in the same industry I am and who have the same struggles that I have,” she says.
For Beth Hoff Blackmer, president, Aspen Rent-All, Basalt, Colo., and ARA board chair, who serves as chair of the Women in Rental Committee, those comments are music to her ears. She has been a primary force in spearheading this effort.
“I think the event was fantastic. It was so wonderful to have a full day with this group of women. Everyone was so excited to be together. There was such a great energy and lots of good interaction among the group. I think everyone felt it was a great event and very nice to be together and not on a Zoom call. I just wish it could have been longer,” she says.
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Women in Rental Summit highlights ways ARA and the Girl Scouts are looking to partner
Opportunities for the American Rental Association (ARA) to partner with the Girl Scouts of the USA were prominently featured at and applauded by those attending the Women in Rental Summit, which took place Jan. 25-27 in San Antonio.
“We know that girls want opportunities to strengthen their leadership skills, have internships and develop connections with mentors and leaders in their community. This informal relationship offers an opportunity to build a strong local pipeline of prepared women leaders who are engaged in and ready to give back to their communities. We will continue to look at ways to work together to educate young women and show them the opportunities available in the equipment and event rental industry,” says Debby Schaller, ARA vice president of marketing and ARA staff liaison for the Women in Rental Committee.
The first introduction of this development was at The ARA Show™ in Las Vegas followed by Karen Layng, national president of the Girl Scouts USA, speaking at ARA’s Leadership Conference in November. At the Women in Rental Summit, Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president, Texas A&M University, San Antonio, and at-large member of the Girl Scouts of the USA National Board of Directors, was a featured presenter.
“At one time, Dr. Teniente-Matson asked who was in the Girl Scouts. About 90 percent of us in the room had been in Girl Scouts,” says Michele Saxman, owner, Rapid Rentals & Sales, Brookfield, Ill., and ARA of Illinois board member.
Beth Hoff Blackmer, president, Aspen Rent-All, Basalt, Colo., and ARA board chair, who serves as chair of the Women in Rental Committee, says this is a perfect organization for ARA to partner with.
“I was a Girl Scout. It is amazing how this organization is working with young women around the country to set themselves up for success in life. Even their cookie sales are all about building entrepreneurial skills as each girl is responsible for her own bookkeeping and sales, etc. These young women learn life lessons all the way to the Gold Award, which is a very hard thing to get. To match that up with ARA and our members, allowing members to coordinate at a local level and get Girl Scouts involved in community events that we might be doing as a rental store or a state chapter is so great,” she says.