ARA of Michigan capitalizes on collaboration with SBAM
Dave Gill, president of Gill & Co./Rentals Unlimited in Traverse City, Mich., attended the 42nd annual meeting of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) in East Lansing on June 23 and is excited about “the political leverage the ARA of Michigan state association has as a result of their membership in SBAM.”
Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) was the meeting’s keynote speaker, offering his comments concerning tax reform and other policies designed to help small businesses. In addition, SBAM presented its Legislator of the Year award to Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger and Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville for their consistent support of small business issues and for their leadership in passing business tax reform.
SBAM is an association of small businesses that functions much like the American Rental Association (ARA), with national offices as well as state and local chapters. Gill’s involvement with SBAM started when he reconnected through “Facebook and a beer” with Sam Lyons, SBAM’s health insurance lobbyist, who is an old friend from his high school. That conversation has grown into a benefit for all ARA of Michigan members, Gill says, as ARA of Michigan has purchased SBAM membership for each ARA of Michigan member. This collaborative effort gives members more benefits at the state level and increases the value of the ARA membership. “Now we carry the power of more than 12,000 small businesses, giving us more of a voice when talking with legislators in Lansing,” says Gill.
Because of the connections he has made with SBAM, Gill says he now has access to several people who are in a position to influence policy change for the benefit of small business and the equipment rental industry. In addition to the SBAM meeting, Gill also attended the Governor’s Breakfast with Rep. Dave Camp (R-4th) and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley on June 25 as well as an informal “get-together” at Calley’s hotel that evening to which he was invited in a personal phone call from State Rep. Wayne Schmidt.
“These are the opportunities that fall into your lap if you are willing to get involved,” says Gill, adding that each event is an opportunity to discuss issues of importance to the equipment rental industry with elected officials.
“There’s value to my business and to my industry. Customers need to know that they have a strong ally in ARA of Michigan. If a policy or piece of legislation is affecting them, it’s affecting me,” says Gill. “I highly recommend any other state look into collaboration efforts. There is power in numbers. Find out where you have synergy with other groups — contractors or home builders, for example — and see where you can work together.”
ARA of Minnesota comes together for motorcycle cruise
ARA of Minnesota held its fifth annual motorcycle cruise this summer on July 19-20. Organizer Doug Haas, general manager of Crown Rental in Burnsville, Minn., planned the first ride when he was the group’s president in 2006. “I love to ride, so for a social event it seemed like the thing to do. It was my secretary’s idea to call it a cruise so everyone felt like they could come and participate,” says Haas.
The out-and-back overnight ride has a new destination each year and Haas generally spends up to six months planning the route. This time around, the group stopped in Luck, Wis., for lunch at the Hog Wild Saloon, before venturing north to Danbury to spend the night at the Hole in the Wall Casino. The next day, they split up and headed home.
Each year there are new faces in addition to a core group from across the state. Jerry Kortesmaki, owner of London Road Rental Center in Duluth, has participated every year. He says what keeps him coming back is the camaraderie. “There seems to be more interaction with this event than with any other,” he says, “Minnesota rental has a reputation for being a fun, close-knit group of good friends. The summers are so busy we don’t get to see each other, so the opportunity to get out and talk with friends is a big highlight of the event.”
Theft of services bill passes in Missouri
In July, Senate Bill 399 in Missouri was passed, modifying state statute 578.15, which had addressed theft of equipment, but not theft of services. Under the new law, aiding/abetting concealment of leased or rental property, selling, pawning, or giving away the leased or rental property without written consent of the owner, and failing to pay lease charges after returning the property are all offenses subject to fines. The property value amount also was increased, so that if more than $1,000 is stolen, it is considered a class C felony.
Members of the ARA of Missouri have been working on getting this bill passed for 10 years. Willie Hay, manager of Oak Grove Rental in Oak Grove, Mo., worked with State Sen. Will Kraus, who sponsored the bill. Hay said in the past they’ve tried to initiate new legislation. However, in this latest effort, Kraus instead sponsored and presented this as a modification of an existing statute. Darick Hemphill, ARA of Missouri president and Bill Spry, owner of Lindsey Rental & Sales in Columbia, were willing to testify before the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of the bill with about 20 minutes’ notice.