The ARA of Wisconsin’s Feb. 15 event — its first in-person offering in more than a year — had the right combination of education, networking and fun, according to those who attended.
“It was really great,” says Robert Copley, CERP, sales manager, Event Essentials, Windsor, Wis., and ARA of Wisconsin president. “We started the event at Canopies Events with Distinction in Milwaukee with close to 50 people — including past American Rental Association [ARA] Board presidents Kevin Hoffman and John Bibbo, CERP, current President Scott Irwin and President-Elect Steve Mau, current Region Five Director Dean Miller, CERP, and ARA Vice President of the Event Segment James Auerbach. We all met there for Brian Fielkow’s presentation "Driving to Perfection: Building a World-Class Company Culture." That is a hot topic, especially now. His presentation sparked a lot of really good discussion with lots of Q&A.”
“We took away quite a bit from his presentation,” says Colin Shane, owner, Equipment Rentals, West Bend, Wis., who took six of his employees to the training. “One of the things that resonated with my team was the 20-60-20 rule, which outlines that as much as you want to retain everybody, there will be some people who won’t be willing to be part of your culture. You have to be willing to walk away. Also, he talked about identifying silos, or obstructions to your culture and things that might hinder a productive environment. There was a lot more, too. That was why I brought additional staff to see which parts stuck out more to them. We will bring together what each person thought was important and valuable so we can see what things we need to focus on to start making some changes at our operation.”
Mike Lueck, president, A-1 Express Rental Center, Eau Claire, Wis., agrees. “The speaker was great. Brian talked about an employee contract, which I thought was neat. I learned about how to handle some conversations with different employees, which was helpful, too,” he says.
The tour of Canopies and the ability to network with others were huge draws, too. “Canopies is a big tent company. We were able to go through their warehouse, see how they store things and talk to their guys about how they do things in their business,” Lueck says.
“I took my tent crew manager with me,” he adds. “This was his first time at an ARA of Wisconsin event. He got a lot out of the speaker and the tour. He was wandering through the warehouse and kept saying, ‘We should do this and that.’ To me, that was exciting. Then we had the chance to talk with the other rental operators who were there, many of whom were event folks. That networking was huge. The icing on the cake was that the two ARA past presidents, current president and president-elect and others were there. That was pretty cool to be able to chat with them.”
“The store tour was cool to see,” Shane says. “Compared with us, Canopies is so much bigger. It was great to see how they warehouse and organize things and talked with us about their operation. It was helpful for me, being a younger owner who is taking over from the previous owner, to see how they do things as we try to re-sculpt our operation for our future needs.”
Following the presentation and tour, attendees headed to the Fiserv Forum to watch the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Indiana Pacers. Those in attendance were able to view all the on-court action from the comfort of the private suite in the Bucks Club Lounge.
“That was great,” Copley says. “The Bucks won. Giannis [Antetokounmpo], the reigning MVP, had 50 points. That was fun to watch.”
Lueck agrees. “The game was awesome. I was at the stadium the last time the ARA of Wisconsin offered a night at the Bucks game. Giannis didn’t play that night, but he played this time. It was fun to see him in action,” he says.
From the education offering to the basketball action, the entire event was a win, attendees say.
“This was my first ARA of Wisconsin event,” Shane says. “Anytime there are training opportunities for myself and my staff, I feel it is a good thing. We have to keep learning and adapting. These days, status quo does not work. How the business was even five years ago is not what it is today. I wasn’t able to attend the game, but two of my staff did. They had a great time and were able to meet even more people, which is good. We certainly plan to attend other ARA of Wisconsin events.”
“The presentation, the networking and the game were great. It was definitely worth our while to attend. We will take part in more events,” Lueck says.
Copley is glad the state chapter’s first in-person event after such a long hiatus was a big success.
“We hosted the Bucks game back in 2019 and had a really good turnout. That event was more of a social function. With all the challenges and issues that companies have faced in the last 12 to 24 months, we wanted to bring back an educational component to help address those concerns. It turned out to be a good combination of education and social time that people liked, which is great,” he says.