Amsterdam, The Netherlands — The inaugural International Rental Exhibition, which brought about 1,500 attendees to visit the stands of the 135 exhibiting manufacturers and service providers, was a qualified success. Some manufacturers expressed disappointment with the numbers of attendees, while most exhibitors were enthusiastic about the quality of attendees, who were, mostly, owners and senior executives of rental companies.
“The quality of the traffic has been phenomenal,” said Alex Schuessler, CEO of SmartEquip, Norwalk, Conn. “We have met decision makers.”
While not necessarily billed as a buying show, James Anderson, sales and marketing manager of JCB light equipment, said his company sold 390 machines at the show, 350 to one customer. Others expressed hope that the contacts made at the show would lead to viable business relationships.
“One hundred thirty-five exhibitors is an amazing figure for a first edition,” said Gerard Deprez, president of the European Rental Association, whose convention took place alongside the trade show.
“There was a great range of equipment shown at the convention and that is also a great success,” Deprez, managing director of Loxam, Europe's largest rental company, told RER. “And the staff of the exhibitors are dedicated to the rental industry.”
Manufacturers enjoyed the opportunity to meet with rental personnel from 30 countries, including Japan, China, Australia, United States, Chile, Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, and almost all European countries, including Eastern Europe. About 300 people attended the ERA's convention, which included roundtables on such topics as “Transportation: The silent killer of profit,” and comparative advantages of rental networks affiliated to manufacturers versus independent networks. Committees such as the promotions committee, general rental conditions committee, and statistics committee held presentations. A seminar on information efficiency, on how to increase productivity using new technologies, was well attended.
The first-ever European rental awards were held, organized by IRE and International Rental News magazine. The Rental Company of the Year Award (10 depots or more) was given to Helsinki, Finland-based Cramo, while Rental Company of the Year with fewer than 10 depots was KDM Hire, a Northern Ireland-based rental firm. The Rental Person of the Year Award was given to Steve Corcoran, chief executive of Speedy Hire, the U.K.'s largest rental company. U.K.'s Hewden received the Rental Environmental Award and Komatsu's PC26MR-3 2.5-tonne mini-excavator was selected Rental Product of the Year. GenSet PLC won the after-sales service award, German Caterpillar dealer MVS Zeppelin won an award for best rental promotional campaign, and U.K.-based GAP Plant won the rental safety award for promotion of safe work practices.
The keynote address for the ERA convention was given by leading industry consultant Dan Kaplan, who spoke about how the current financial crisis will impact Europe's rental industry. Kaplan predicted further penetration of rental in the European rental market (from 32 percent to 45 percent), the likelihood of private equity's investment in the rental industry, the trend towards manufacturers' ownership of rental companies, the likelihood that major U.S. rental companies — other than Hertz, which already is well-established in a number of European countries — will open in Europe, and growth of the European rental market to €27 million (about U.S. $42 billion) by 2012.
Deprez said ERA's next convention will be held in the United Kingdom, although time and place have yet to be determined.