When Gail Rocquemore, owner of A.D. Parties & Events, Weddings by Gail and Red Door Event Suite, Edmond, Okla., was asked to join the ARA of Oklahoma board, she couldn’t wait to accept.
“I am still relatively new to the rental industry. I wanted to be around people who I knew had been doing this for a while — people I could learn from and who could help me grow. I also wanted to have a voice and help bring in more diverse voices,” she says.
Rocquemore, who is certified as an event planner, wedding planner and event designer, had different and distinguished careers before moving into the event rental space.
“Prior to the rental and event planning industry, I modeled beginning at age 14 until I was much older, doing catalog and runway modeling. I also worked in the airline industry, which afforded me opportunities to travel all over the world. Both of those professions have come together and taught me so much about what I do now. Working in the fashion industry taught me about fabrics — the look and feel of fabrics. I also produced shows, so I have that experience, too. The airline industry helped me learn about people, working with different personalities and cultures, as well as the need for punctuality. They both have helped me to do what I do now, which I love,” she says.
The rental industry became a new career path after she started planning events for friends. That led her to open A.D. Parties & Events when she was in Dallas in 2006. “It was mainly to plan social events, private parties and corporate socials. I started with small, unique décor items and worked with other rental companies for the other items. Then I got into doing weddings and I decided to provide specific items for those couples. That prompted me to start Weddings by Gail, which is a wedding planning company. In 2014, I followed my husband to Oklahoma and transitioned everything up here. Then, last November, the space next to me became available. I was originally looking for more warehouse space, but when I walked in I saw the aesthetics of the space, which appealed to me. As I stood in the middle of the place, I thought it could be a small venue space that could help pay for itself. I crunched some numbers. I knew if I didn’t jump on it, it would be gone, so I opened Red Door Event Suite, a small boutique venue space that can hold up to 100 guests,” she says.
Both Weddings by Gail and Red Door Event Suite are under the A.D. Parties & Events umbrella. “A.D. Parties & Events is the main part of my company. Everything else is a subsidiary under that. I offer the linens, tablecloths and napkins and some specialty furniture items and tables. I also have columns, chandeliers, candelabras and large vases. I have been very fortunate that a number of the planners here in my area come to me with their brides and clients for which I supply rentals for them. Then I have some venues in which I supply all the linens for them. I have some catering equipment as well and work with catering companies, primarily private chefs. They will rent those types of items from me. I work with several other rental operators who handle tents. I definitely appreciate the relationships I have with other companies that do the larger-scale things,” she says.
She learned about the American Rental Association (ARA) when she was looking for insurance. “I think I Googled it and learned about ARA. I saw that ARA was having The ARA Show™. I thought this would be a good place to talk with people who are in the industry, so I went and learned what ARA provides, including insurance and the Women in Rental offerings, which I found really exciting. I met Leon [Kothmann, ARA Insurance preferred agent],” she says, noting that after that everything fell into place.
Rocquemore, who is an active volunteer in her community, wanted to become more involved with ARA. She took part in of a couple ARA of Oklahoma meetings, including February’s “Better Together Day.” Now she has added to her volunteer activities as a state chapter board member.
“I am very excited about being on the board. I am looking forward to being a part of it,” she says.
She brings a lot of skill sets to the position. “I think I am a good connector. I love people, talking with people and being passionate about what I do. I would like to bring in more people and more diversity to the industry. I don’t see as much as I would like to see, and I would like to help bring that to the organization. I also would like to help foster relationships with new rental businesses and connect them with ARA resources that can help them succeed,” she says.
Be sure to thank all the rental operators who are serving in leadership roles for the ARA of Oklahoma:
President: Patrick Reynolds, owner, Journey Productions, Lawton
Vice president: Max McTeer, president, Max Lift, Oklahoma City
Treasurer: Stephanie Layson, owner, Party Pro Rents, Tulsa
Secretary: Jennifer Rodriguez, CERP, general manager, Marianne’s Rentals, Oklahoma City
Board member: Gail Rocquemore
Board member: David Manning, partner and general manager, Bronco Equipment Rental & Sales, Cushing
Board member: WEB Brown, president, ARS, Oklahoma City
Board member: Ryan Richardson, business development director, Spartan ZTR Mower, Oklahoma City
Associate member director: Krysta Farris, rental specialist, Hilti, Plano, Texas