Rental done down under
By Ashleigh Petersen
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Rental done down under

Beth Hoff Blackmer represents ARA at HRIA trade show

HIRE22 — the Australian’s version of The ARA Show™ — was hosted by the Hire and Rental Industry Association (HRIA) on May 25-26, 2022, in Adelaide, Australia. The two-day show was packed with educational sessions, social events and keynote speakers, plus a trade show featuring 80 exhibitors.

As those in the Australian equipment rental industry gathered for the annual event, Beth Hoff Blackmer, president, Aspen Rent-All, Basalt, Colo., attended for the first time. As a former American Rental Association (ARA) president and board chair, she was there to represent ARA and share how the association is working to advance the rental industry.

One of the major features of HIRE22 was the numerous networking events. The night before HIRE22 kicked off, Hoff Blackmer attended the “Young Professionals Network and Women in Hire & Access - Networking for Success” event. Hoff Blackmer and others behind ARA’s Women in Rental initiative initially worked with HRIA to learn about their Women in Hire & Access program. Attending this event enabled Hoff Blackmer to meet the women who had helped ARA while it was creating its program.

“When we first started Women in Rental and were thinking about expanding and doing mentoring, we knew the Australian association had done that so we reached out. They were very welcoming and shared what they had done,” she says.

“One thing they did, which is interesting, is they connected young professionals and the Women in Hire groups and combined their social events. This is interesting because that’s exactly how we’re going to host the Young Professional Network and Women in Rental Conferences in November 2022,” Hoff Blackmer says.

The first day of the show kicked off with a welcome and keynote session. During these events, Hoff Blackmer shared ARA’s strategic plan and initiatives. She discussed what the association did during the pandemic — including advocating for the event rental industry and creating the Clean. Safe. Essential. program. She also shared the association’s education programs, the launch of the ARA Job Posting Portal, student memberships and quarterly rental forecasts. Her presentation included sharing one video from ARA’s national advertising campaign and highlighting the Women in Rental group and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Focus Group.

Following her presentation was the morning keynote, trade show and additional networking events.

“They actually do a keynote a couple of times. That’s one big difference between our show and theirs. They do a welcome session in the morning — which is when I spoke — then there was a keynote following me,” she says.

That night, a sit-down dinner was hosted which included another speaker — Dr. Richard “Harry” Harris — who shared the extraordinary story of how he helped rescue 12 soccer players and their coach from a cave in Thailand in July 2018.

Dr. Harris works in anesthesia and aeromedical retrieval medicine in Adelaide and has been a diver for more than 30 years. He was called to help those who were trapped and swam through the Thai cave system to rescue the young soccer players and their coach. Deep inside the caves, he medically assessed and administered anesthetic to each of the evacuees to facilitate their rescue.

“It’s a really crazy story. He was fantastic and was actually honored with the Australian of the Year in 2019,” Hoff Blackmer says.

The second day of HIRE22 included a morning keynote speaker, the trade show and a “Future of Hire Workshop.”

“Then on the final night, they have a full black tie formal Hire Industry Excellence Awards & Gala Dinner. They have awards for young professionals, Women in Hire and volunteers. The awards are similar to a lot of the ones ARA presents during The ARA Show,” Hoff Blackmer says.

During her time at HIRE22, Hoff Blackmer says she noticed similar issues between rental operations in Australia and the U.S.

“Sadly, I bring back that they are experiencing the exact same situation with staffing. It was interesting to me that they have the same issues that we are experiencing in this country,” she says. “They’re also experiencing supply chain issues, which is not that surprising because they get their equipment from the same places we get ours.”

Following the conclusion of HIRE22, Hoff Blackmer was able to experience parts of Australia and get an inside look at how rental is done down under.

During a trip to Sydney, Hoff Blackmer and her husband met with Andy Kennard — CEO of Kennards Hire, Seven Hills, New South Wales, Australia.

“Andy picked us up, drove us around and took us to a couple of his equipment rental locations. They own 196 stores in Australia and New Zealand as well. All are privately owned so that was neat. Then the Kennards hosted my husband and I for dinner,” she says.

On another day, they met Mark Scarce, owner of Camden HIRE, Narellan, New South Wales, Australia, who arranged for them to take a flight around the Sydney Harbor and down the coast. That was followed by a tour of a Camden HIRE location and then dinner with the Scarce family.

Despite being across the globe, the willingness of rental owners to reach out and share their experiences with others is something similar between the two countries.

“I had met Andy Kennard before but I had never met Mark. He had become good friends with two other ARA members who had taken part in exchanges between ARA and HRIA. He just took it upon himself that he was to take care of us. It was really sweet,” she says.

Overall, Hoff Blackmer says her Australian experience was “beyond expectations. It was really a fabulous trip with some of the nicest people in the world.”

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the associate editor for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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