TRA Roundup was a hit with new and veteran rental operators
By Connie Lannan

TRA Roundup was a hit with new and veteran rental operators

Stephen Naleway, general manager, Events Plus, Conroe, Texas, has been in the event rental industry for the past 22 years, but he never had the chance to attend the Texas Rental Association (TRA) Roundup until June 27-28 at the family-friendly Margaritaville Lake Conroe Resort in Montgomery, Texas. Now, he can’t wait to go again.

“We had a great time. We heard about it through the emails and all the publications that we get. A couple of my friends in Houston and I talked and decided we wanted to go. Also, it was in my backyard, so we came a little early and enjoyed the resort before we hit the ground running,” Naleway says.

There were plenty of activities to take advantage of during the two-day event.

The event kicked off Monday evening with the welcome reception and the second annual Rental Olympics that offered both friendly competition and lots of camaraderie. The Rental Olympics honors went to the JLG team, which won the overall race, and the Peerless Events and Tents team, which won the “most popular” vote.

Then, on Tuesday, participants gathered for breakfast before the two educational sessions — “What employment statistics reveal about Texas’ future workforce,” presented by Stacey Falletti, lead business developer for Express Employment Professionals in North Houston, and “Wait! What! These DOT regulations apply to me?” by Chad Seamans and three other officers from Texas Department of Transportation (DOT).

Lunch and the TRA meeting followed. At the meeting, the new TRA board was installed and the annual awards were presented along with the announcement of a leadership award being developed in honor of American Party Rental President Fred Dupy, who passed away in May and was so active in TRA.

Remembering Dupy this way was important to everyone at TRA, according to Dillon Hughes, owner, Only 1 Rentals, Navasota, Texas, who serves as TRA immediate past president.

“As sad as it was to not have Fred attending this year, it was so nice to see him recognized for his years of service and his commitment to the industry. Fred went above and beyond to help other members, the community, TRA and ARA [American Rental Association]. His whole life was a commitment to the industry. We wanted to establish this award in memory of Fred and will offer it to others in the industry who demonstrate the qualities that Fred exhibited to all of us in the industry. We were excited to be able to present an honorary plaque to Fred’s brother, Bill, and his wife, Michelle. This will be an award that inspires people,” he says.

In addition, participants enjoyed the silent auction, tabletop exhibits, exhibitor reception and the always-fun Spirit Toss. The evening concluded with two Roundup favorites: dinner and the live auction, which included the Fred Dupy Giving Tree and the “Heads or Tails” fundraiser.

Naleway found that all the events were beneficial. “The lunch was great. I was able to network with other rental operators and some exhibitors. The tabletop exhibits also were great. I met with a couple of my reps that I had never seen, and the live auction was fun. A couple who was at our table won one of the trips. That was fun. The auction definitely got everyone up and going,” he says.

Fellow first-time attendee Michael Serna, manager, Dry Aire Rentals, Beaumont, Texas, also had a “great experience,” he says. “I was able to meet a lot of other people in the industry and learn how others operate in different situations, whether it be on employment, invoicing, collections or other aspects. For a startup company like ours, it was great to learn from people who have been in the industry for years. Everyone was very friendly and eager to help. There was a lot of great interaction with a lot of different people in the industry, which helped me build contacts and spread our name as well.” 

Serna also appreciated the educational classes. “We recently purchased a trailer for the company, so we were able to learn guidelines and rules that will apply to us. It was very informative for someone like me who is new to the industry and doesn’t deal a lot with trailers and transportation. Others in the session asked a lot of questions about different situations, which was good to hear too. The other session about hiring personnel offered ways to think outside the box. There were good tips offered as well as suggestions for how to keep your employees happy so they don’t jump ship on you. That was good,” he says.

It wasn’t just the educational sessions that provided Serna with valuable tips. “I learned from people I just walked by and introduced myself to. It was great. Everyone seems to have the same issues no matter what area they are in,” he says.

Selvin Young, general manager, and Ibrahim Alkubaisi, director, Reliable Equipment Rentals, Houston, also are new to the U.S. rental market and attended Roundup for the first time this year.  

“We offer equipment rentals and dealerships overseas. We just started an equipment rental operation here in Houston. We heard about the Texas chapter and wanted to check it out. It was a good networking event. We met a lot of people. We have been looking for GPS and software vendors, so meeting those vendors was helpful,” Alkubaisi says.

“We are glad we went and definitely plan to attend next year,” Young adds.

The networking opportunities always are a big draw for new and veteran rental operators who attend TRA’s premier event. This year was no exception, Hughes says.  

“The networking with members and exhibitors always provides so much value. There was a lot of interaction this year, which was great to see,” he says, adding that “getting time away from the business with no distractions is also great.”

This year’s Roundup provided something for everyone. In addition to the networking, education, connections with exhibitors and fun, the event also served as a fundraiser for the state chapter’s political action committee (PAC) and scholarship fund. The proceeds from the Spirit Toss, the Heads or Tails game and the Fred Dupy Giving Tree raised more than $3,500 for the TRA PAC. Proceeds from the silent and live auctions raised more than $13,000, which supported the scholarship fund.  

The combination of events “created a fun atmosphere,” Serna says. “Everyone seemed to be happy and wanted to be there because of the way it was run — the games, interactions, education and such. The whole event created an environment that allowed everyone to enjoy themselves and have a pleasant time. I am glad I was able to go and would like to possibly bring multiple employees from the company going forward as part of a team-building event,” he says.

Naleway agrees. After attending Roundup, “I definitely want to be more involved and attend more TRA functions throughout the year,” he says.

Connie Lannan

Connie LannanConnie Lannan

Connie Lannan is special projects editor for Rental Management. She helps plan, coordinate, write and edit ARA’s quarterly regional newsletters, In Your Region. She also researches, writes and edits news and feature articles for Rental Management, Rental Pulse, supplements, special reports and other special projects. Outside of work, she loves to bake for others, go for walks with her husband and volunteer for her church and causes she believes in.

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