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Barbara Bush praises parties at Rental Show

Former First Lady Barbara Bush said that while she'd "likely never" rent a hydraulic lift, she and her husband--former U.S. president George Bush--were probably "your biggest clients" for event rental because "my husband loves to give parties!" She made her remarks yesterday morning as the keynote speaker at the opening of the Rental Show exhibits in Orlando, Fla.

Mrs. Bush noted that she and her husband have rented "your linens, glasses and dishes, and oh, the tents we have rented!" She told the tent renters in the audience, "We put your children through college."

With attendance expected to hit 11,000, the show features 750 exhibitors, primarily construction rental equipment, and a slate of seminars.

Growth Predicted for Rental

Also at the opening session, Christine Wehrman, CEO and executive vice president of Moline, Ill.-based show sponsor the American Rental Association, noted that ARA membership is at an "all-time high." She added that research conducted by the association shows that the rental industry in North America was a $31.1 billion business last year, with 70 percent of that total in construction rental equipment, 25 percent in general tool rental, and the rest--some $1.85 billion--in party and event rental. She said that the rental channel will continue to grow though this year and next--although that growth may "moderate," she noted--predicting that the industry in total will reach $34.6 billion in 2007.

The association celebrated its 50th anniversary on Monday night with its "Dancing through the Decades" party at the Rosen Center hotel, featuring a DJ pumping out hits from the 1950s to today. Vignettes showed scenes from the groovy '60s and other decades.

The show runs Feb. 6-9 at the Orange County Convention Center. For more information, visit the association's Web site at

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