Cover story: 10 under 40, rentals young professionals
Cover story: 10 under 40, rental's young professionals

Editor’s Note: Many publications have offered articles about young professionals under 40 years of age in a variety of businesses. However, equipment rental is a unique industry. Professionals start their training sometimes from birth and families pass down knowledge. Others fall into the business and surface with many mentors who teach them the ropes. Above all, rental professionals learn to depend on themselves, but also each other. The negative press about the coming generations doesn’t apply here. These young people enjoy hard work, welcome challenges and more than a few would rather talk over the phone than by email or text. They look to the future with an experienced eye, taking cues from the history of the industry and their respective companies. They seek knowledge from their elders, and are motivated to try new methods and products. In this article, Rental Management looks at 10 such young professionals under 40, but we easily could have featured 100. That means we’ll be back next year with a look at more of those who are likely to help shape the future of the equipment rental industry.

Brandon Ahlgren, 28, owner, Elite Events & Rentals, Safety Harbor, Fla., started out in nonprofit work. Today, he has a full-time rental business and also is a member of the ARA of Florida board.

“I always wanted to own my own business. Before rental, I worked in the nonprofit sector, planning events for the American Cancer Society. I decided that rental looked like a lot of fun, so I bought a website. Then about a year later, I actually got the money to invest into it. I had a mentor, who was much older, about 90, and he was a successful business guy. However, when it came to a mentor for rental knowledge, I didn’t have one, but there was a rental company in the area that let me subrent, and I could ask questions and partner up on bigger jobs,” he says.

“For the first three years, I worked full-time at another job. Then my business picked up and I ended up leaving my job. It was a hard decision to make. I had to look into health insurance and disability, and all the paperwork. This Sept. 1 we’ll be celebrating six years, but I’ve only been full-time for about 2.5 years,” he says.

He says he heard of the American Rental Association (ARA) through Rental Management and decided to go to The Rental Show in New Orleans. That ended up being a turning point. “So, I joined ARA in September the year before. Then someone invited me to come to an ARA of Florida meeting, which I didn’t know was a board meeting. I went and now I chair the education committee, so I plan the fall and spring meetings. We’re having our fall meeting in Miami at Delray Beach,” he says.

Ahlgren started in a 12-ft.-by-12-ft. storage unit, then added more units as needed. Now the company is in a 2,400-sq.-ft. warehouse and looking for more space. Business is going well and that’s creating a tipping point for Ahlgren.

“I’d like to hire someone for the office, because I’m the people person. I was very heavily involved in the community before I started the business. I volunteered with the American Cancer Society and with the city before that. That’s one thing I want to get back into. Getting someone else in here, it’s hard to train them on everything and then let go,” he says.

Customers are important to him. Each year, he has a VIP party on the July 4th holiday. “We had over 200 people come for the VIP party this year. Most of my employees and their families were able to come, and even some past employees and several of our customers. We printed invites and VIP passes. We’ve done that the last couple of years,” he says.

Annual and nonprofit events make up the majority of his market. “We try to visit our annual customers, bring them lunch and talk about their events. Turnover in staffing for nonprofits — you have opportunities, but sometimes you have to get to know new people in charge. You have to keep on top of it. I send contracts out early for annual events a few months before, to make sure of their reservations,” he says.

Perry Cook, 28, manager, Ventura Rental Center, Ventura, Calif., never thought of himself as being in the rental industry until two things changed his mind: The presence of big iron and an industry of mentors.

“My dad would drag me out of bed on weekends, holidays and during the summer to make me come sweep the yard and wash trucks,” Cook says. “As I look back at it, it’s one of the best things my dad ever did for me. He taught me the importance of hard work. Hard work has been the foundation of everything I’ve done.”

When Cook was 23, Ventura’s market shifted from homeowner to more industrial customers. “We started attacking larger jobs and in turn buying larger equipment. I love big iron. You have to have a great team behind you when you rent a 50,000-lb. excavator. Your wash rack guy needs to have it clean. Your mechanic needs to have it serviced. Your delivery driver needs to be safe and get the equipment there. Your salesman has to go out and not only sell your equipment, but sell your company. A lot has to go right to get a deal,” he says.

“When you get a large excavator on rent, it’s because your whole team bought into your program. That’s a great feeling and that’s why I do rental,” he says.

He also says he wouldn’t be working in the equipment rental industry if it wasn’t for the road paved by his father, Ted. “He’s really taken off in different leadership positions that have opened a lot of doors for me. I love going to the American Rental Association (ARA) Leadership Conference, The Rental Show, ARA’s Legislative Caucus and other ARA events where I get to see and catch up with friends. I was introduced to all these things through tagging along with my dad,” he says.

From his travels, he says, “I learned the rental industry was a lot bigger than just renting to the weekend warrior. Learning the business is exciting and has kept me motivated to keep moving forward. My largest influences have been other rental store owners and operators. I’m still pretty young and have a lot to learn about leading my team and growing our business. The conversations I have with leaders in our industry impacts what I do on a day-to-day basis in my business and personal life.”

Through these contacts, he became involved in the ARA of California, of which he is now vice president. “Bridget Doherty was serving on the board of ARA of California a few years back. She basically told me that I was going to serve on the board with her. All of a sudden I was nominated,” he says.

Locally, “I try to be as active as I can in my community. I believe if you’re not helping to make someone else’s life better, you’re wasting your time. I volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America as a scoutmaster. I have been doing that for a few years now. I also assistant coach a pee wee football team. So many parents and volunteers sacrificed for me to have a great upbringing, you’ve got to pay that forward,” he says.

Cook has a strong belief in the company’s mission of quality and service. “We’ve always said that price doesn’t matter. We believe that at the end of the day we are saving the customer money because our team does so many things right,” Cook says. “I am most proud of the team we’ve built. When you get everyone buying in, you start to have something really special.”

Todd Daymont, 38, CERP, vice president, American Party Rentals, Durham, N.C., grew up in the rental industry, but it wasn’t until after college that he knew his future would be in rental.

His parents, Pete and Judy Daymont, opened a Taylor Rental franchise on May 6, 1977. “When I was in grade school, I would go in some Saturdays with my dad. I’d spend time tearing my bicycle apart in the shop, greasing the bearings, or he would give me a cleaning assignment, like pressure washing mud off of equipment. We moved to Durham in 1986 and started the business in 1989. I’d come in after school, prep orders and wash white wood chairs. I always say my first job was as a white wood chair washing machine,” Daymont says.

Later he moved into delivery. “I became familiar with our venues and key players, and started developing that rapport. That gave me good insight into what party rental jobs consisted of and what the trends were. As I got older, I started answering the phones and people would ask how to handle certain situations. I’d use the knowledge gained as a delivery person to answer those questions. That’s how it developed into more customer interaction,” he says.

Daymont went to college for two years, intending to study civil engineering, then suffered a series of accidents, including being hit by a drunk driver. He took time off to recover. “It wasn’t easy, but now, I know perseverance is something I’m capable of,” he says.

He worked part-time at the store, but also bartended, waited tables and worked with local caterers. “All those experiences enhanced my knowledge of the equipment and how it plays a role in the event,” he says.

After going back to school full-time, Daymont considered his options and decided on rental as a career. “You’re dealing with people’s memories and the big moments in their lives. All of these events have a greater purpose than just accomplishing a task. You get to have an impact on people and the industry,” he says.

Daymont first got involved with the American Rental Association (ARA) via the Next Generation of Rental Owners group, now the Young Professionals Network, and later was tapped for an exchange trip to Australia through the ARA Foundation’s International Rental Business Leadership Program in 2009.

“That trip really opened my visibility to the greater international organization. That’s when Ben Cooke invited me to speak at the state meeting in North Carolina, so I did a presentation to about 70 people. That was what brought me into the state realm. The more things I did, the more opportunities presented themselves. ARA’s Leadership Conference was a result of Next Gen and the next trip was through the state association, and then ARA’s Legislative Caucus. It’s one opportunity after another. Now, I find myself in the presidential role for the state and that’s probably more work and effort than most of the other things I’ve participated in, but it’s absolutely worth it,” he says.

In December, Todd and his brother, Chad, bought the business from his parents, and now have a majority share in the company, with plans to expand. He says he’s happy with his decision to stay in rental.

“Ultimately I figured out that this is where I fit. It just made sense to continue on that path where I knew I could be successful, have an impact and participate on multiple levels. Every day is different. That’s something I enjoy about it,” he says. 

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Anthony Durante, 39, CEO, Durante Rentals, Flushing, N.Y., has been in the rental business for 22 years. As vice president of the ARA of New York, he’s attended regional meetings, as well as participated in programs at The Rental Show. He’s also a member of the American Rental Association’s (ARA) Young Professionals Network. Today, he works with partner and cousin, John Durante, and their financial guru, Christopher Jones.

“I grew up in construction. My dad had an ironworks business, so since I was five, I’ve been going to work every day except Sunday, holidays and school days,” Durante says.

He worked for his uncle, John Durante Sr., at Durante Equipment starting in high school. Working for his uncle, he and his cousin, John, gained experience in many parts of the company.

“My uncle is one of the smartest guys in the business,” he says. In 2000, the family sold to United Rentals and in 2002, Durante left to open his own business, Gotham Equipment. In 2009, Gotham’s assets were purchased by Durante Rentals when it was formed with John and Chris. Due to the weakened economy at that time, the crew was able to purchase equipment for a fraction of the normal market value and build a fleet in short order.

“Our corporate culture is responsible for our growth. We don’t have a single salesperson on the road. I’ve got real stiff competition, but we’ve been able to carve out a niche. We’re about old-school customer service, integrity behind the name, a good reputation and treating people right,” Durante says. Local organizations have taken notice, which led to Durante being named as part of The Business Council of Westchester’s Rising Stars: 40 Under 40, Class of 2010.

After Durante Rentals was established, Jones got a call from ARA, asking for someone to sit in on a town hall meeting. He passed the request to Anthony. “At the meeting, they asked for volunteers for board members. When they asked for a volunteer for vice president, there was several seconds of silence. Then I threw my hand up,” he says.

He says he had no idea what he was getting into, but that it’s been a great experience. Since then, he’s been active with the ARA of New York, been part of ARA’s Construction Special Interest Group (SIG) and attended ARA’s Leadership Conference.

“ARA helped establish relationships for me. When Hurricane Sandy hit, we had a lot of people bringing us equipment. The more you get involved, the more you get out of it. Getting to participate at The Rental Show is huge,” he says.

Durante says that while the industry has changed, it’s still about service. “The Internet, social media, email and text messages have changed the game, making it easier to connect directly to clients on job sites, but competitors have the same accessibility. The playing field has certainly changed since I started in the industry, but it’s still about service and knowledge that differentiates you as everyone can have the same equipment and price. Customer service is still the defining tangible. I believe in saying what you are going to do for your customer — and then doing it. All customer service aspects should be tackled the same way you would approach a profitable sale — diligent and thorough. Following up and allowing no grey area is the mantra of our company,” he says.

As for Durante, it’s still the same game, only better. “I love renting and selling equipment and building my business. I enjoy it every day and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I work a lot of hours and I love it. It’s what I do,” he says.

Brittany Haas, 24, CERP, office manager, Crown Rental, Rosemount and Burnsville, Minn., used to help her father, Doug, at the store when she was a kid. “I remember I was 12, and he asked me to wash and dry and iron all the linens. That was my first real job. That’s how I got started. Later he needed a counter person and so I did that. I remember I said, ‘I don’t know anything,’ and he said, ‘That’s okay, I’ll help you,’” Haas says.

“I was always second-guessing myself, because I didn’t know much about the equipment. Balancing the schoolwork and job wasn’t a problem at all. I continued to work with dad when I was in college and I made my class schedule work with my work schedule,” she says.

Haas went to school for accounting, in preparation for her rental career. “My whole life, I wanted to do business and play with numbers, and I knew that. That’s what I went to school for. I knew I wanted a background in accounting. When I graduated, I got promoted to office manager and doing the book work for both locations. I love it, every day,” she says.

A member of the ARA of Minnesota, Haas also has attended the American Rental Association’s (ARA) Leadership Conference as well as The Rental Show. She says her involvement started with going to meetings. “When I was in high school and college, I asked if I could go to the local meetings. When I didn’t have class, I attended. When I was a kid, we’d try to have an annual thing to get the families together, so I knew some of the people. The only time I missed meetings was because of class or when I was in Australia,” she says.

Haas went to Australia in 2010 as part of the ARA Foundation’s International Rental Business Leadership Program.

Later, she volunteered as an ARA of Minnesota board member. “Andy Way from A to Z Rental Center in Eden Prairie was vice president at the time. He asked me to be the vice president when he was president and I thought he was joking. When I realized he wasn’t, he showed me the ropes,” she says.

Haas says it helps that she has several mentors and she’s willing to ask for help. “My dad was president, so I can ask him questions. Also, I can’t thank the association enough for taking me under its wing. It’s been great,” she says.

One of her tasks with the ARA of Minnesota is to help plan events. “We just did the Minnesota Rental Association trip. We’re planning to have NER [National Equipment Register] here in October,” Haas says. Locally, “we’re part of the Chamber of Commerce in Burnsville and they hold a lot of seminars on health care. We help some of the schools out and Eagle Scouts come in every now and then.”

Overall, she says, she loves her job and the equipment rental industry. “There’s something different to do every day and you learn something new every day. You’re constantly helping people. It’s an adventure every day. I love it,” she says.

Trevor Kettrick, 35, owner, A to Z Rentals, Spokane, Wash., is the third generation in his family to work in his rental company. When the business was sold in the 1990s, it seemed like his time in rental was over, but then fate stepped in.

Kettrick’s grandparents, Milt and Alice Neumann, started the business in the 1950s and his mother, Cheryl Kettrick, took over later on. He remembers going to The Rental Show as a kid and looking at costumes. “I’ve probably been to 20 or more shows,” he says. “I also lost a lot of summers, working.”

In 1996, the family sold the business to RentX, while preserving the company name, and in 2005, his mother bought it back, putting A to Z back in business.

“Of the kids, I was the one they asked, before they sold, if I was sure. So, there was that question. When we bought it back, there was that question again,” Kettrick says.

The answer was, “Yes.” In 2007, after working in outside sales, he got back into rental as well. “It was nice to have a fresh perspective,” he says.

Today, in addition to the original location in Spokane, A to Z has six more locations and is still growing.

“When we bought back from RentX, we added two locations in North Idaho. Our main store is the original and one of our locations has been there for 30 years. We have three locations in Spokane, three in North Idaho, and one in Moses Lake, Wash.,” he says.

The company’s history, however, is still there. Not only do customers remember the family, he says, but “the office I’m in right now used to have my crib in it.”

As far as business, he says there have been changes from when he was younger.

“On the equipment side, it’s relatively the same. Equipment goes out the door and we have loyal customers. On the party side, it seems like everything is so much bigger than it was. It’s just a larger setup. It’s crazy. I remember, growing up, the biggest tent we had was 20 ft. by 30 ft., and now we have 40-ft., 60-ft. and larger tents. It seems like the party just never ends,” he says.

A to Z provides homeowner, light construction and party and event equipment. “People are still getting
married and they are doing the backyard weddings to save money, so tents are going out the door. We’re doing roughly 30-plus tents a weekend. We do 20 to 30 deliveries a weekend,” he says.

“We do a lot of donations for the community. My mom is a board member with the Spokane Valley food bank. Where we can, we help. I like that about this business, that we’re capable of doing that,” he says.

He’s also involved in the ARA of Washington, currently as president, and has served on The Rental Show Task Force, as well as attended the American Rental Association (ARA) Leadership Conference, legislative days and various meetings. He says the rental business is a good challenge.

“The thing I like about it is there are no two days the same. There are always different customers with different issues. I love the aspect of it being different every day,” he says.

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Michael Linton, 31, owner, Michael’s Party Rentals, Ludlow, Mass., started Party Tent Rentals in 2000 with his brother, Ryan. At the time, it was a way to make some extra cash in the summer.

“There was a guy from town who had a couple of tents. He used to deliver them to people’s graduation parties. My brother and I said, ‘Well, we can do that.’ We called up and ordered a 20-ft.-by-30-ft. Anchor canopy. We picked up some chairs at a banquet hall that was going out of business. We used to borrow my father’s pickup and trailer, and go out and deliver all the products,” he says.

The move made the brothers fourth-generation entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship has always been in the family. My father started his own business, my father’s mother and father started their own business, and my father’s grandmother started her own business,” he says.

Linton never planned for the summer gig to go full-time. “My goal was to own a construction company and I was going to school for construction management. I worked construction an entire summer and did tents on the side,” he says.

At the same time, party and event rental had its rewards. “As I got into tents, I’d work for an afternoon, and we’d have a wedding set up and the client would be thrilled. You had that payoff every single weekend,” he says.

In 2003, he bought out Ryan’s half of the business and renamed it Michael’s Party Rentals. That year, he went to The Rental Show for the first time. “I had signed up to be a member of the American Rental Association (ARA), because I was going to the show and other rental companies I had networked with said it was a good idea. I also learned about the ARA of Massachusetts meetings from other stores and started attending,” he says.

In 2005, the rental company became a full-time job and he moved the business into a 1,500-sq.-ft. warehouse. He says he learned by working with other companies.

“I actually went to work for a couple of rental stores where I had met people and donated my time just to learn how to do bigger tents. Each store was about two hours away, so it wasn’t competition. We still have a good relationship and subrent back and forth,” he says.

Business is going well, although space is at premium. “Now we have a 3,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, but it’s jam packed. We have storage trailers. We’re looking for a bigger place. Ideally, it would be 10,000 to 12,000 sq. ft. or so,” he says.

Currently, Linton is president of the ARA of Massachusetts and also has served on the ARA Events & Tents Task Force. Locally, he’s on the Ludlow committee for the affiliated chamber of commerce and donates rentals to a nonprofit planning group, the Spirit of Springfield. When he’s not working or donating his time, he and his wife, Julie Creedon-Linton, spend time with their new son, Brodie Michael, who arrived in July.

He says the best part of the business is each day is new. “I’m always doing something different. In a single day, I’m working with the marketing agency, going out and putting a tent up with my guys or having a sales meeting. There’s always something different happening,” he says.

James Morden, 37, president/owner, Rentshop, Alliston, Ontario, Canada, has been in the rental business since grade school.

It started with a party for his father, Paul. His mother, Karen, went to rent the items and thought they could run that kind of business. The rest was history. The couple opened Rentshop in 1985 and brought in the family to help.

“You do it on a shoestring and family often finds themselves working on weekends. I’ve been sweeping floors and stocking shelves since I was nine,” he says. Morden worked at the store through high school and college, but had aspirations of working in government. Finally, he says, he decided on rental.

“You tend to fight what’s best for you sometimes. It wasn’t always my first choice, but it was something I came to realize later was my best opportunity. I thought I’d like to run for public office someday and this would be a good way to become involved in the community,” he says.

In 1986, a year after establishing the store, Paul Morden joined the American Rental Association (ARA) and Canadian Rental Association (CRA) on a suggestion from a vendor representative. “He benefitted tremendously and was eventually elected to the Ontario board. He got me involved when I was still in school doing small projects and articles. When I started full-time, he brought me to meetings. I ended up taking over as the editor of the local newsletter and ran that for a number of years before being elected to second vice president,” he says.

Now, he is the Ontario director on the CRA board and a member of ARA’s Young Professionals Network. He also has attended the ARA Leadership Conference, was a member of The Rental Show Task Force in 2011 and 2012, and was Region 10 person of the year in 2009 and CRA Person of the Year 2010.

Morden manages the CRA’s social media presence — including Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook pages — and sees expanding social media as a networking outlet. “It’s working well. Members share information and photos and it’s a good way to be inspired as well as share relevant information about the association. I was an early adopter of social media and pushed it as a viable option during my term as president of the Ontario local. At the time, it was a brand-new idea. Now much of what I’m doing is being eclipsed by other members. So many members have established a social media presence and are doing it way better than I ever have,” he says.

Locally, he says his company supports a number of charities and causes, including a high school scholarship. “My father created the award, where we donate a ‘Top of the Class’ welding package to the student with the highest grade in manufacturing. That way, we help them get started with all the proper welding safety items and personal protection equipment they need, whether they pursue welding as a hobby or a career. We’ve had a number of winners go on to get their welding certificate, so that’s been neat to see,” he says.

He says he enjoys the challenge of running a rental business. “It’s a different encounter every day. You wake up on any given day and there’s always about 80 to 85 percent that’s working right. I enjoy the challenge of trying to get things running better. There’s always something new to do,” he says.

Josh Nickell, 33, co-owner, Nickell Equipment Rental & Sales, Senoia, Ga., grew up in the equipment rental industry, but was determined not to make it a career. “However, an internship while I was in college changed my mind. The owner of the business I was interning at said he didn’t care if his product was hot dogs or insurance. As long as it was a good product, he was happy. What he really enjoyed was running the business. The light bulb went on when he said that,” Nickell says.

“I had always operated under the assumption that I had to be a mechanic to run a rental company, but what you really need is to enjoy the complexities of running a small business,” he says.

Nickell and his father, Tom Nickell, own the business together, and through his father, Josh became involved in the ARA of Georgia. “My dad has always been a very active member and supporter of the state association. I learned very quickly that most rental store owners are very good at what they do and one of the best ways to improve was to network with people who were already successful in their companies. I walked away from every meeting with a golden nugget of information. Often, it was something another member shared, not necessarily information from the guest speaker. The exchange of ideas at the association meetings gives us new ideas and helps us avoid common pitfalls. We often bring members of our management team to the meetings because it helps them just as much as it does us,” he says.

Then, opportunity knocked. “When Jeff Lignugaris, the incoming state president, asked me to be vice president, I felt it was an opportunity to give back to the organization for the 10 years of training they had given me,” he says. Nickell also has served on the ARA Risk Management Committee.

The training has paid off, as business is going well. Nickell says the company’s main focus is customer service and going the distance. “Like most good businesses, we focus on creating a great customer experience and empowering our employees. Where we differ is our understanding of our strengths and weaknesses. Many businesses are distracted by the big dollar accounts and obvious markets. We understand what target businesses and markets we can serve better than anyone else and focus on them. Often, our most valued customers are found in markets that are overlooked, under-appreciated, or seem uninteresting to the competition. We also understand that our business is about much more than just renting equipment, it’s about helping our customers get their job done,” he says.

What he likes best is doing something different every day. “The rental business is very complex and fast paced which keeps things exciting. One day you might be planning for purchases to address niche rental markets and the next you are doing sales training with the counter staff. I enjoy being in a position where I have the ability to react quickly to changing conditions, keep my finger on the pulse of the business and think outside the box,” he says.

Angela Nussel, 38, CERP, vice president, Premiere Party Central, Austin, Texas, has worked with her family since she was young, no matter what the task was. “I’ve always been involved in the family business, whatever it happened to be. My parents had a weatherization business, and I’d work there during high school and summers. Shortly after high school, I was doing that type of work and my parents had some land next to the business. They decided to build mini-storage units, so I ran that office. I was a one-woman show for about five years,” Nussel says.

Then, her parents decided to open a rental store. “I came across the street with them, literally. I can remember entering our beginning inventory and setting up shelves, and then not having enough inventory. It literally was just jump in, sink or swim. Since then, my responsibility and roles in the company have had to adapt to our needs,” she says.

Initially, rental wasn’t on the docket for her post-college career. “I went to college, majored in English and was going to get my teaching certificate. I realized you either want to be a teacher or you don’t,” she says.

She decided to stay in the rental business where each day brings something different. “I enjoy the working relationships. I enjoy the relationships I have working with my parents,” she says.

About five years ago, Nussel moved into human resources. “I also do the accounts payable/receivable, and the payments processing. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes person. I love the nuts and bolts of policies. It definitely keeps me busy. My customers have just changed from the event customers to our team members,” she says.

“One of the biggest similarities in working with the customers or the team members is problem solving. It’s the tasks that are different. With customers, it’s the biggest day of their life and they have a vision. It’s not just another event. That’s one reason I like going to the ARA [American Rental Association] events. You get that inspiration and that motivation to work with customers to create that vision,” she says.

In addition to working in the business, Nussel also has been involved with the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), serving on the board for the last six years, as well as working with the Texas Rental Association (TRA). “We’ve attended TRA events ever since we opened our doors,” she says. In addition, the company also participates in local charities, such as the annual Ronald McDonald House Bandana Ball.

“One of my philosophies that I learned from my mother is that anything I do, I’m going to give 100 percent. I want to hold my head high and say, ‘I did the best job I could.’ There are things I may not like and there are things I love. It’s nice to switch it up, too. I like working Saturdays because I get to help customers coming through the door. I’m really fortunate that I’ve enjoyed both roles,” she says.

ARA Young Professionals Network offers networking and education opportunities

By Connie Lannan

Young rental professionals between the ages of 18 and 40 are the future leaders of the equipment rental industry. To give them the services they need to be successful, the American Rental Association (ARA) and the ARA Foundation have joined forces to offer the ARA Young Professionals Network.

This ARA program, which is administered by the ARA Foundation, is for those who are working in family businesses or are rental store employees who want to have personal careers in the equipment rental industry.

“They, as young rental professionals, have unique needs as future rental industry leaders. ARA understands that and is dedicated to offering the information and support needed as a benefit of membership,” says Christine Wehrman, ARA’s executive vice president and CEO.

“This program will offer the full spectrum of services that these professionals want and need, including the ARA Foundation’s business succession assistance, mentoring opportunities and the scholarship program,” she says.

As the Next Generation of Rental Owners was established primarily to assist the second generation of family-owned rental businesses, the ARA Young Professionals Network “is building on that foundation for the third and future generations of family-owned businesses as well as other young rental professionals who want to build successful careers in the industry,” Wehrman adds.

The program’s kickoff took place at The Rental Show 2013 in Las Vegas at the ARA Young Professionals Network Reception. In addition, educational seminars specifically suited for young rental professionals were held at the show, including the seminar, “Rental Reality: How to Best Enhance, Protect and Transition Your Rental Company and Wealth” with Leon and Terrance Resnick of Resnick Associates.

That was just the initial beginning for this group. In September, members will receive an ARA Young Professionals Network membership directory, have access to an ARA Young Professionals Network discussion group on ARA’s Member-to-Member Forum and learn about program updates on the special ARA Young Professionals landing page on ARA’s website, In addition, they have received notices to attend ARA state association functions throughout the year.

At The Rental Show 2014 in Orlando, Fla., ARA young professionals can look forward to a special networking reception and numerous education sessions specifically geared for them, including “Working With the Baby Boomers” with Seth Mattison from BridgeWorks in Los Angeles, which will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 9.

“The ARA Young Professional Network is there to offer education, networking opportunities and overall support to young rental professionals so they can gain the skills needed to be successful rental leaders,” says Jenni Venema, ARA Foundation director of development. “The ARA Foundation is proud to be part of this important ARA membership program and is excited to offer opportunities that will help hone their skills, connect them with others their age and help them soar. To ensure the future success of our industry, we need to invest in these young professionals. This program can go a long way in that effort.”

Young Professionals Network

If you are between the ages of 18 and 40, are working in the equipment rental industry and plan to build your career in this field, this group is designed for you.

For questions or more information on this ARA member benefit, contact Jenni Venema, ARA Foundation director of development, at 800-334-2177, ext. 236, or