Association of Progressive Rental Organizations | America’s Champion for Rent-to-Own

MRDA Hosts Event with Lots of Heart(land)

Heartland Trade Show attendees get together to catch up before the Tiger Social.

The Missouri Rental Dealers Association (MRDA) recently held the 2024 Heartland of America Regional Trade Show and Seminar at the Lodge of the Four Seasons in Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri. With 162 attendees from 13 dealer companies and 42 vendor businesses, the Trade Show featured a full-of-fun schedule and trade show with 64 booths of marvelous merchandise and show specials.

As ever, the event began with the “Tiger” John Cleek & Ben Neuharth Memorial MRDA Buddy Bass Tournament on lovely Lake Ozark, followed by the Tiger Social that evening. These events honor the memories of rent-to-own legend and former APRO President “Tiger” John Cleek and Ben Neuharth, a former Regional Manager with National Rent To Own.

The next morning, the Mark Windsor Memorial Golf Tournament honored former APRO Board Member and National TV Sales & Rental Founder Mark Windsor, with eight teams of rental dealers and vendors finding a number of birdies and, literally, two eagles – the Bald-Headed national symbol kind!

Following a packed trade show that facilitated almost $900k in purchases, the annual banquet and awards presentation featured speakers Kevin Welker, Owner of MKW Investments, Inc. dba Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership, and APRO CEO Charles Smitherman. MRDA President John Cleek, Jr. – who also serves as President of Cleek’s Home Furnishings/Rentals & Sales – noted the many industry awards earned by both “Tiger” Cleek and Windsor during their decades of service to RTO, then presented trophies to the winners of their named tournaments. Cleek, Jr., TRIB Group Executive Director Dennis Shields, Smitherman, and Scott Young won first place golfing, while Michael Chen, Owner of NeoLiving, and Ben Crowder of Global Furniture earned first place in the fishing competition.

(L to R) Moderator Macy Mitchell guides panelists Jerica Norvell, Adam Ball, Marcus Marter, Andrew Hajduk, and Daniel Hajduk in a fascinating discussion of RTO marketing today.

The event concluded with education sessions and meetings. C&L Supply Inc. and O’Rourke Sales Company provided popular and informative product-training sessions, followed by a panel discussion on marketing.

Moderated by All American Rental Inc. Chief Operations Officer Macy Mitchell, panelists included Adam Ball with Esquire Advertising, Andrew Hajduk and Daniel Hajduk with Vox Pop Uli, Marcus Marter with WOW Brands, and Jerica Norvell with SKC Enterprises Inc. dba Rent One. This lively dialogue covered a broad spectrum of trending marketing topics – including social media, door-to-door, business-to-business, apparel, and van wraps – while delivering key takeaways about the importance of multi-channel efforts to ensure consistent and consistently visible messaging. After lunch, the event concluded with MRDA’s Annual Member and Board of Directors Meetings.

“This year’s trade show and seminar was a tremendous success and we want to thank everyone who participated,” said Cleek, Jr. “Next year’s Heartland of America show is scheduled for June 10-12, 2025, once again at gorgeous Lake of the Ozarks – and ALL rental dealers nationwide are welcome to attend!”

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