The mission of the American Rental Association of Michigan is “to promote the common business interests of the equipment rental industry, including those persons, corporations and entities engaged therein, at the state level and under the auspices of the American Rental Association, a national trade association representing the equipment rental industry.”
The first rental association was called the Utility Trailer Rental Association (UTRA). It was formed in 1949 by five trailer rental operators out of the City of Detroit in the hope of standardizing business methods and setting minimum safety requirements for equipment. Within two years the members were at loggerheads with the City of Detroit, which had banned all open-air displays of trailers and equipment. This adversity welded the association into a group that has stood the test of time… along with a few name changes.
The association merged with Michigan Rental Services in 1962 and became known as the United Trailer & Equipment Rental Associations (UTERA), with a membership of 100 businesses throughout Michigan. In early 1960’s they took their issues before the legislature in Lansing, where they eventually got a “Larceny by Conversion” law signed by the Governor in 1966. Act 297, Section 362A is still an effective tool for use in prosecuting those who neglect to return rented equipment.
Also in the early 1960’s the association began sponsoring an annual equipment display fair. It was a two-day affair, and at least two of them were held at the Farmers Market in Royal Oak during the cold month of January. On June 1, 1967, the association was known as the Michigan Equipment Rental Association (MERA) until it became affiliated with the American Rental Association, an international trade association for owners of rental businesses, and evolved into the American Rental Association of Michigan (ARAM) in 1995.
Changing with the times, by 2006 the annual equipment display fair had morphed into the first “internet auction”. This online auction continues today and creates revenue for the association which allows it to serve its members throughout the year. The auction provides an avenue for members to dispose of used inventory by turning it into ready cash for upgrading inventory and keeping equipment fresh and presentable. Its revenue also provides educational and training programs for our members, and supports the efforts of ARAM and ARA in promoting the rental industry.
Many of the same issues that concerned our members in the 1960’s continue to be our concerns today, including state licensing, personal property taxes, business regulation, business and health insurance, and equipment safety and training, to name a few. ARAM has stood at the forefront in pushing for tax reform to provide employers with personal property tax relief, while stimulating Michigan’s economy and encouraging job growth. The resulting reform is not by any means ideal for Michigan’s rental businesses, however, so we are continuing to do more work at the legislative level to improve the business outlook in our state and secure our economic future for generations to come. Next on our agenda is legislation concerning “theft of services”.
Our grass roots efforts are making strides every year in bringing those issues of importance in our industry to the attention of our national and state legislators. With the continued support of our members, the American Rental Association of Michigan will proudly continue to promote the common business interests of the rental industry in Michigan by means of education and legislative involvement.