Laura Snell grew up in the family rental business, NJS Design Event & Party Rentals in Clinton, Ontario, Canada, which is owned by her mother, Nancy, CERP. Initially, she helped out with deliveries or processed rental items. In April 2011, she became more involved in the business and discovered a niche she might want to turn into a career.
“I have really enjoyed identifying effective efficiency solutions for the business. I also have enjoyed creating a strong employee team this summer, which included employees enjoying lunches, themed Wednesdays and even creating our own type of Olympic Games,” Laura says. “The biggest lesson I have learned is that if your team is motivated and works together, the quality of your products and services reflect that and, ultimately, our customers are happy.”
Gaining that insight into the business has given her daughter a broader perspective, Nancy says. “With two years under her belt in the warehouse, managing staff, delivery schedules and processing schedules, Laura now views this industry as a viable career,” she says.
So, when informed last fall about the scholarships available from the ARA Foundation and affiliate programs, Laura immediately applied. “I have been involved in the business for a couple of years now and I really have developed an interest in the industry as well as the driving factors,” she says. “Applying my education in the business has been an exciting process full of challenges that have allowed me to become a better employee. The application for the scholarships allowed me to express my understanding of the industry and our individual company through my classroom lessons.”
Sending in her application paid off. Not only did she receive an ARA Foundation undergraduate scholarship, but she also was awarded the Doug Mitchell Scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Discovering that she was awarded both scholarships was exciting, she adds. “I was on lunch when I received the call and was informed I had won the ARA Foundation undergraduate scholarship. Thrilled and overjoyed, I started sending a mass text to all of my friends and family about the amazing news. For the rest of the day, it was hard not to smile and think about how lucky I was to be chosen for such an award. Within a few days, my phone went off again and a mass text was sent out that I had won the Canadian Rental Association Doug Mitchell Scholarship. I was truly over the moon to have been selected as a recipient of these highly sought-after scholarships,” Laura says.
As a senior working toward her bachelor’s degree in bio-resource at the University of Guelph in Ontario, those funds have offered significant help. “Being awarded both of these scholarships has allowed me as a student to reduce the stress of financial concerns while going into my final semesters,” Laura says. “With the strain reduced, I can take more time to concentrate on excelling in my courses and achieving the honor roll at the University of Guelph. I also hope to continue my contribution to my extracurricular activities associated with the university. Over the course of the four years in my program, I have been student council president, the captain of the volleyball team and currently am vice president of my program’s student council as well as a banquet coordinator for an upcoming national conference for agriculture college student councils. All of these opportunities have allowed me to grow as an overall person.”
The scholarships have been a tremendous boon to the entire family, Nancy adds. “These scholarships have come at a great time in our family’s life. During the 2012-2013 academic year, our family has had three of our four children in post-secondary programs. These scholarships also brought Laura more into our business — seeking information and now watching upcoming trends,” she says.
After graduation, Laura sees herself returning to NJS Design Event & Party Rentals as she has specific goals for the company. “A goal of mine is to continue reducing costs to the company, including researching and applying for more green alternatives to ensure the lowest impact on the environment,” Laura says. “More and more customers want to ensure that they are purchasing products or services that are green because of the awareness in our everyday media toward the environment. Another goal is to continue offering new products and services to our customers that are the most current trends.” She plans to learn about those trends when she attends The Rental Show 2013 in Las Vegas.
“Students should apply because they [the scholarships] provide an amazing opportunity to showcase how you are contributing to the industry as well as your passion for what you’re doing,” she says. “Applicants should also note the time it takes to complete the application process is minimal compared to if you had to work to gain the same amount of money. The application illuminates the opportunity [of working in the rental business] as not only a job, but also as a successful long-term career.”
Apply now before the scholarship deadline
If you are a student who wants a career in the equipment rental industry, now is the time to apply for the vocational/technical, undergraduate and graduate scholarships available from the ARA Foundation and affiliate programs. A total of $62,000 worth of scholarships is available. All applications must be postmarked by Saturday, March 2, 2013. To download an application, go to ARAfoundation.com and click on “Foundation Scholarship Program.”