Beth Hoff Blackmer, president, Aspen Rent-All, Basalt, Colo., has served as an American Rental Association (ARA) officer for the last three years, including president-elect in 2019, as ARA’s 58 president in 2020, becoming the second female to serve in that role; and as board chair in 2021.
Aspen Rent-All has been an ARA member store since 1968. When her father decided to sell the business in 1999, she stepped in to buy it and take over the operation.
As an ARA officer, Hoff Blackmer was heavily involved in guiding the association through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the launch of several new initiatives to help members, including the Women in Rental group; the Clean. Safe. Essential. (CSE) training certificate program that continues to evolve; and the development of a certification program for employees of equipment rental companies to complement the Certified Event Rental Professional (CERP) program offered to those in the event segment.
As she prepares to complete her service to the ARA board in March 2022, Hoff Blackmer talked to Rental Management about her experiences and the changes the association has made over the last three years.
Rental Management: As you complete your three years as an officer, how would you describe the state of the association today versus three years ago?
Beth Hoff Blackmer: The association has had an interesting three years, but is in a strong position at this time. There are many new initiatives happening at all levels of the association. The association is well staffed with amazing people excited to continue to move forward with numerous things that will benefit the members.
Rental Management: What do you consider to be the association’s key accomplishments over the last three years?
Hoff Blackmer: The expansion of RentalU, with the Clean. Safe. Essential. program, box truck training and all the other new online content to help you run your business, is fabulous. The launch of the ARA Job Board and its subsequent development already has become a great resource to help you find employees but also for people out there to learn about the equipment and event rental industry. My personal favorite accomplishment is Women in Rental. We started the initiative three years ago and have had very successful breakfasts at The ARA Show™, a Facebook group with more than 800 members and, in January, we will have the first Women in Rental Summit. It is an excellent way to connect with other women and to be educated on topics that matter to women.
Rental Management: During the pandemic and today, the association has accelerated the development of programs to help members. You mentioned Clean. Safe. Essential. There are marketing campaigns to promote rental and an expanded workforce development effort with the job board. Other things are coming up in 2022. What are you most excited about?
Hoff Blackmer: I have been pushing for an equipment certification for many years. The event side has had the CERP program for years and now I am excited that we will have ARA Certified this coming spring. Finally, ARA will have a program for equipment rental store employees to help with career development and show our customers we take our business seriously.
Rental Management: Having served as an ARA officer, how do you think the equipment and event rental industry is evolving and what might the future hold?
Hoff Blackmer: ARA is continuing to research and figure out ways to help members, including an association medical plan and increased advocacy by segment in government affairs. By separating the segments of equipment and event, it will help each be heard better for their individual advocacy needs. ARA also is committed to helping members learn about technology for their businesses. The first Rental Innovation Conference & Exhibits event is coming up March 9-10, 2022, in Dallas and includes education sessions and the opportunity to visit with vendors showing their latest innovations, both in equipment and software, that can help members improve operations.
Rental Management: What did you learn and what will you most remember from your three-year term as an ARA officer?
Hoff Blackmer: I have learned a tremendous amount of the inner workings of ARA and am completely impressed that with all the balls in the air at any given time, there is passion and hard work by the ARA staff to keep it all together and moving forward. The close friendships I have developed over the past three years will be my favorite memory.
Rental Management: As you complete your service as an ARA officer, what message do you have for those in the equipment and event rental industry?
Hoff Blackmer: I run a single-location equipment rental store in a remote area but have still found the time to be involved with ARA, first on committees and then at the state level. I was on the national board before and now have been an officer. It would have been easy to say I was too busy to have done all this while running my own business. However, the experience has helped me become a much better business owner. The knowledge and support I have received from others helped me to have substantial growth in my business. My parting message is simple: Get involved. You won’t regret it.