Message from the President: Looking ahead to ARA's future

With 2012 in our rearview mirrors, we drive forward into 2013 with anticipation and guarded optimism. So, what lies ahead for 2013 in the rental industry and the American Rental Association (ARA)?

IHS Global Insight’s 2013 economic outlook for the equipment rental industry is positive, but this growth is being forecasted at a somewhat reduced rate than many of us experienced in 2012. As an industry, we also will face much uncertainty in regard to access to capital, tax reform, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and increasing environmental scrutiny. We will not only face regulatory and legislative issues at the federal level, but also at our state and local levels.

We are fortunate to have a collective voice in the ARA, so that no one member has to face these issues alone. The ARA board of directors, member volunteers and ARA staff members work hard throughout the year to provide members that collective voice, as well as the information and knowledge needed to take on the challenges we face today. Below are a few ARA activities to look forward to in 2013.

Starting in March, the ARA Shared Interest Groups (SIG) and committees meet, including The Rental Show Task Force, the Party and Event Services SIG and the Construction & Industrial Services and General Tool SIG.

Each of these committees is comprised of members like yourselves who advise the association on issues, programs, services and events. Other committees that meet during the year include the ARA/ARA Insurance Member Risk Management Committee, the ARAPAC Council, Events & Tents Task Force, Government Affairs Committee, Party Certification Task Force and the Exhibitor Advisory Committee.

All of these groups accomplish important work in many different areas and provide members the opportunity to individually share their expertise and experience. Nearly 80 members participate to represent the voice of their peers.

In April, ARA members will head to Washington, D.C., for the annual ARA Legislative Caucus. I truly believe in the value of advocating for our industry and the ARA Legislative Caucus is a great vehicle to bring ARA members together to fully understand the political process, key issues that impact rental businesses, and how to individually carry a meaningful message to representatives and senators on Capitol Hill and at home. Last year, 90 members from 34 states attended the caucus, scheduling hundreds of appointments with their representatives in Congress or their staffs — what a great voice for our industry.

In October, we will bring our state, local and provincial leaders together for the ARA Leadership Conference. The conference brings together current and future leaders throughout the ARA and provides attendees the opportunity to grow their personal leadership skills, to network with other rental store members, and to gain new tools and guidance on leading their state, local or provincial associations. Last year, more than 80 leaders throughout North America attended this important event.

Many of our state, local and provincial associations will be busy holding meetings and events at the local level. From guest speakers and social events to legislative days in the state capital, there is a lot going on close to home.

This is a great time to get involved in your industry at the local level. I would like to give a special “thank you” to all of ARA’s state, local and provincial leaders. Your involvement has been key to the support and success of your state, local or provincial association.

Remember, there are many great volunteer opportunities available throughout ARA. ARA prides itself on being a member-driven organization and, during these challenging times, it is essential for your voice to be heard.

Mike Blaisdell, vice president, Bunce Rental, Tacoma, Wash., is the 2013 president of the American Rental Association. He can be reached at 253-472-3347 or