For rental operators in Louisiana, the onset of spring means it’s time for the ARA of Louisiana’s big golf outing and crawfish boil. This year’s event, held April 21, lived up to the high expectations of not only the 16 golfers but also the more than 65 who attended the crawfish boil.
“It was a really nice day for our golf outing,” says Byron Alleman, owner, Lafayette Rental Service, Lafayette, La., who serves as secretary and treasurer on the ARA of Louisiana board. “We competed in the closest to the hole contest at each of the par-3 holes. Our grand prize giveaway was a Yeti cooler from Chris Kennedy at SolarTechnology/SolarTech. We also gave away a goodie bag from JLG and American Rental Association [ARA] golf balls from the association. The winners enjoyed the prizes.”
Later that day, everyone gathered at Alleman’s operation for the crawfish boil. “We always start with a big meet and greet,” he says. “We had about 12 vendors mingling with the rental operators who were there. About 5 p.m., the folks who cook the crawfish arrived. They started boiling the crawfish around 5:30 p.m. That is our tradition, and it works really well. We went through 440 pounds of crawfish, plenty of ears of corn, potatoes and sausage. We even had sandwiches for those who are not crawfish lovers and cookies for all. We also had a band playing. Some of the band members work at my store. They were good and had us dancing in our chairs.”
Dean Henagan, president, Grand True Value Rental, Lake Charles, La., went “for the crawfish and stayed for the meeting,” he says with a laugh. Henagan, a crawfish fan, says the meal was “wonderful. The guys who do the crawfish do a great job. Every time, the crawfish are delicious. If you left hungry, it was your own fault. Plus, we were able to enjoy a little live music while eating crawfish.”
But it was not just the food that attracted Henagan. “I try to go as often as I can to see the vendors that come and meet with my fellow rental professionals to exchange ideas. It always seems that I learn something new or come away with some tidbit of information that will help our business run better.”
This year was no exception. “I was able to connect with vendors and other rental operators. One vendor had a battery-powered dumper cart. While it might not be a perfect fit for our target market, it is always nice to see new and interesting things. It also is good to hear from other manufacturers and their confirmation that the lead times are just crazy. Talking and commiserating with other rental operators and having what you are doing being validated is also helpful,” he says.
In addition, Henagan picked up plenty of valuable information on training offerings and the new ARA health care option at the ARA of Louisiana meeting that took place after the crawfish boil. Featured presenters at the meeting were Lori Byerly, ARA director of chapter leadership relations, and Daniel Sanchez, ARA program manager for chapter leadership relations.
“Daniel and Lori had good information about the training resources that ARA offers. In the past, we had some of our employees set up to take advantage of the trainings offered by RentalU. Then the hurricanes and COVID happened, and we abandoned that. As soon as I got back to the store on Monday, I had a meeting with my managers and assigned them to get us up to speed to make sure we are using all the resources of RentalU. I want us to sign up for the MEWP [mobile elevating work platform] training as well as the sales and service training. We have now made a renewed effort to get back to taking advantage of all of these offerings,” he says.
It wasn’t just Louisiana rental operators who took advantage of the festivities. Gary Jones Jr., owner, North Main Tool Rental, Houston, who serves as Texas Rental Association (TRA) secretary, wanted to check out the event and attend the meeting. Being a fan of crawfish didn’t hurt anything, either. “They had tons of crawfish and other items. All were very good,” he says.
Jones was impressed not only with the interaction of the members but also that ARA Insurance Preferred Agent Gates Goza, owner, the Goza Agency, was part of the meeting and able to talk about the new health care option. “The members who were there were very involved in the discussion. The overall discussion and camaraderie were great. Having the ARA Insurance preferred agent there was helpful, too. I think it would be beneficial to ask one of our preferred agents to talk with us at our next TRA meeting,” he says.
Jones also wanted to float the idea of a joint event between Louisiana and Texas members. “We had a discussion about hosting a fishing tournament at Toledo Bend, a reservoir that is shared by both states. The Louisiana members were really excited about it, so we will see whether we can offer this in the near future,” he says.
For Alleman and the others who attended, the day offered something for everyone — great weather, delicious food, education and a possible upcoming fishing tournament. “It was a great day,” Alleman says.