Making a fast recovery
By Wayne Walley
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Making a fast recovery

Rental Management recognizes event rental industry’s Market Movers

As the calendar moved into 2020, many event rental operators were extremely confident after a very positive 2019. No one expected that practically overnight in March, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic would result in lockdowns and mass event cancelations.

Losing 90 percent of an event rental company’s annual revenue was not that unusual in 2020. Some found business providing tents for restaurants and hospitals. Others discovered different ways to survive leading into 2021, which proved to be a year of recovery for the event segment as weddings and traditional and corporate events came back.

After a horrible 2020, achieving exponential growth in 2021 was commonplace for event rental companies. Many were able to come close to meeting their 2019 numbers. Then there are those who in 2021 exceeded their 2019 numbers by quite a bit.

It is those fastest-growing companies of all sizes who submitted their information that we recognize in this issue as the event rental Rental Management Market Movers. Between 2019 and 2021, a handful of smaller event rental companies with annual revenue of less than $1 million reported rental revenue growth of more than 100 percent. A group of other event rental companies with more
than $1 million in annual rental revenue also reported an increase of more than 80 percent when comparing 2019 performances with 2021.

How did they do it?

Market Movers with more than $1 million in annual revenue. Houston Tents & Events, Houston, is one of those companies that went from hardly any revenue in 2019 — $16,000 as the company was just starting up and didn’t really start doing business until Jan. 1, 2020 — to finishing 2021 with $3.4 million in rental revenue, a 21,150 percent increase.

“The rental industry on the events side was stagnant and I wasn’t seeing much evolution in Houston,” says Darren Randle, CERP, owner.

“I feel the reason for our rapid growth is due to being innovative in the way we operate and exploring new concepts to expand the customer experience. The pandemic made everyone reevaluate how we operate and what’s important — time, volume and quality — and we still are continuing to understand the new event landscape for our industry as people begin to get back to normal in rapid fashion,” Randle says.

“Based on my experience and connections around the country, I think our industry is in the transitional phase of generations and with that, I feel there are going to be a ton of opportunities for growth for all event rental businesses. It’s not going to be the same industry it was the last few decades,” he says.

In Clermont, Fla., near Orlando, iRent Everything grew its business from $1.6 million in 2019 to $9.3 million in 2021, a 481 percent increase. “We have overcome every obstacle and we are continuing to do so on a daily basis,” says Jonathan Proto, sales and marketing manager. “We are not only at $9.3 million for 2021, but from the current bookings we have, we will be over $12 million in 2022. We are going to the moon.”

FTS Group d/b/a Funtime Services, Naperville, Ill., started relatively small in 2019 with $338,669 in revenue, but posted $1.3 million in 2021, a 295 percent increase. “Somehow, in the midst of the pandemic, we managed to grow, pivot and evolve,” says Stacie Chase, corporate officer.

“We started slow and then managed to have a contract with the state of Illinois to provide the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) with COVID tents. From there, we were able to grow our equipment and client base. We have now positioned ourselves with a new showroom — 7,500 sq. ft. — next to David’s Bridal and a coming soon Party City. Do good and be kind has taken us pretty far in the last couple of years,” Chase says.

Classic Tents & Events, Norcross, Ga., has had steady growth over the last decade, and increased its revenue from $8.6 million in 2019 to $21 million in 2021, a 143 percent increase.

“Top-notch customer service helps our business to continue to add great talent, along with a thriving culture,” says Steven Eisenstein, CERP, president, adding that the growth in movie production in his area as well as large events getting even larger has helped increase his company’s rental revenue.

Big AZ Tents & Events, Peoria, Ariz., went from $1.5 million in revenue in 2019 to $3.2 million in 2021, up 122 percent.

“We are a small (Gold Star) family business that has grown from one owner and one employee renting a storage unit to 18 full-time employees and an overflowing 10,000-sq.-ft. office/warehouse,” says Jim Barton, owner.

“Through the recent pandemic we became the exclusive partner of several major Arizona corporations to provide tents and rental goods to keep their businesses running and/or help the greater public stay safe. Despite the growth, we have remained true to our original practices of answering our phones and not letting it go to voicemail, spending time on the phone with our prospective clients to answer their questions and educate them about tents and event equipment they may have not rented before. We respond to our clients, new or existing, as soon as we can,” Barton says.

Eastern Shore Tents & Events, Chestertown, Md., came close to doubling its 2019 revenue of $2.3 million, finishing 2021 with $4.4 million in rental revenue, a 93 percent increase, under the leadership of new owners Adam and Michele Beaudry, who decided to buy the company in January 2020. Adam had been with the company for 8.5 years and his wife was a salesperson for about seven years and convinced the owner to sell the business to them instead of a private equity group.

“We bought the company just before COVID took over. We pushed and received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The company had been around for 15 years. We kept our people and acquired another smaller tent rental company. We sought out and actively pursued quality employees and we raised our wages significantly. When we got rolling again, we never looked back,” Beaudry says.

Tents for Rent, Lititz, Pa., also nearly doubled its 2019 revenue of $2.9 million, reaching $5.5 million in 2021, up 92 percent. Marlin Sensenig, an owner, says the company owes its success to bringing “dreams to life in the outdoors.”

Ian Goff, CERP, general manager, Goff Tents & Events, Nicholasville, Ky., says his company was able to “pivot and maintain revenue” during the pandemic in 2020 and had revenue grow by 92 percent to $3.2 million in 2021 compared to $1.7 million in 2019, despite severe staffing issues.

T3 Event Rentals, Alpharetta, Ga., also managed to nearly double revenue from $1 million in 2019 to $1.9 million in 2021, an 86 percent increase, without doubling staff.

“We were able to purchase many new items from companies that were going out of business after 2020 as well as acquire an entire company. We also doubled our warehouse space to better accommodate cleaning and production of our products,” says William Flynn, owner.

Ramsey Duqum, CEO, AAble Rents, Cleveland, says his company has been focused on “breaking rental” through efficiency implementation throughout each facet of the business, growing revenue from $3.8 million in 2019 to $5.7 million in 2021, a 49 percent increase.

“We are constantly reimagining not only what can be done, but how it’s done,” Duqum says. “We are making the difficult easier throughout the rental cycle.”

Rental Management Market Movers
Companies with $1 million or more in annual event rental revenue

Leaders in percentage growth 2019 to 2021

Company Location 2019 $m 2021 $m % growth
Houston Tents & Events Houston 0.0 3.4 21,150
iRent Everything Orlando 1.6 9.3 481
FTS Group d/b/a Funtime Services Naperville, Ill. 0.3 1.3 295
Classic Tents & Events Norcross, Ga. 8.6 21.0 143
Big AZ Tents & Events Peoria, Ariz. 1.5 3.2 122
Eastern Shore Tents & Events Chestertown, Md. 2.3 4.4 93
Tents for Rent Lititz, Pa. 2.9 5.5 92
Goff Tents & Events Nicholasville, Ky. 1.7 3.2 92
T3 Event Rentals Alpharetta, Ga. 1.0 1.9 86
AAble Rents Cleveland 3.8 5.7 49
Party Perfect Richmond, Va. 2.1 2.4 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note: Figures are rounded to the closest $100,000. *Revenue in 2019 was $16,000, which rounds down to 0.0.

Market Movers with less than $1 million in annual rental revenue. CSE Services, Waymart, Pa., remains a smaller company with $105,170 in rental revenue in 2021, but that was a 222 percent increase over 2019 rental revenue of $32,646.

“In many ways, my company’s story is in line with the American dream,” says Nathan Richardson, owner. “I started the company nine years ago this season. At the time, I was completely broke, my father and mother had just claimed bankruptcy and we were losing our house to foreclosure. Unsure of what to do and knowing that my current job at the time working for a landscaping company making $12 per hour would never provide a comfortable life for me, I came across an older gentleman looking to sell his tent rental business.”

Richardson scrambled to secure a loan and come up with the additional cash to buy the company and ended up with a “fleet of 10 old concessionaire tents with stakes and wooden poles, 16 beat-up tables and 170 of the worst condition Samsonite chairs I have ever seen. Over the next year, I would spend every spare moment after work and during the weekends cleaning and repairing the tents one by one, sanding down and completely refinishing the tables and making whatever repairs I could to the chairs. It took me two more years to pay back the loan and from there I began to finally buy my own equipment,” he says.

After six years of late nights and long weekends, the business became busy enough for Richardson to quit his full-time job and things from there have “snowballed. My company now owns close to $200,000 in inventory. It is a true ‘rags to riches’ story,” he says.

Mainely Events, Biddeford, Maine, has had its revenues grow 158 percent from $68,754 in 2019 to $177,237 in 2021. Elizabeth Lurvey, branch manager, who also is a member of the American Rental Association’s (ARA) Young Professional Network and president of the ARA of Maine, says the company is actively working on strategies to develop and maintain its workforce. As a result, at the halfway point in 2022, she says they already have booked enough jobs to almost equal their 2021 revenue.

Shannel Aiken, owner, The Grand Event Design and Décor, Northport, Ala., reports that her company’s rental revenue grew from $147,000 in 2019 to $357,000 in 2021, up 143 percent.

“We are small, but we are mighty,” Aiken says. “We have weathered the storm and we have secured contracts over the last six months as the preferred event rental vendor with the University of Alabama as well as their athletic department. We are now working with other major companies, organizations, and celebrities on their events, including Alabama Power, Mercedes, Nucor Steele, DCH Foundation, NFL quarterback Mac Jones, and NFL defensive end Gerri Green. We are already on pace to bring in at least $150,000 more in revenue this year even with our current small team of five.”

Fernando DaSilva, owner, Signature Event Rentals, Fredericksburg, Va., says his company has been in business for five years and continues to be on a growth trajectory, on pace to do more than $500,000 in event rentals this year after reaching $343,737 in 2021, up 111 percent over the $166,768 in 2019.

Gary Bordman, CSEP, owner, Amusement, Exhibit & Event Services, Las Vegas, a service-disabled veteran-owned business (SDVOB), says his company survived and thrived through the pandemic by showing its versatility.

“We went from a primarily in-person event company to a virtual event company in under three months and substantiated virtual events for our clients and gained new clients,” Bordman says.

The company reported revenue of $850,000 in 2021, up 89 percent from $450,000 in 2019. “We have been recognized by BizBash twice for the creative solutions we brought to our clients. Now back to real-life events, we are thriving again and growing as we remained in people’s view for the past two years. Our team has changed but our concept has not. Events are what help people remember and the experiences we provide are a key factor to this,” he says.

Stephanie Ames, event manager, Alpenglow Events, Crested Butte, Colo., is proud that their small-town destination wedding rental company grew 76 percent from $170,000 in revenue in 2019 to $300,000 in 2021.

“Although we seem small, $300,000 for 2021 is huge revenue for a town with a population of just 2,500 people and we are projected to do more than $350,000 this summer. We are now considering purchasing companies or starting in other markets in Colorado,” Ames says.

Let’s Party Rental, Normal, Ill., grew revenue from $393,603 in 2019 to $569,520 in 2021, a 45 percent increase. “We are a growing profitable company at the forefront of technology utilizing Profit First and the entrepreneurial operating system (EOS) that allow for efficiencies that most other companies cannot realize,” says Trevor Troutman, owner.

“We focus on building leaders and live by our core values of getting better every day, doing the right thing, keeping it real, helping first and creating fun,” Troutman says.

While this issue focuses on those in the event rental segment, the June 2022 issue featured Rental Management Market Movers listing the fastest-growing companies in the equipment rental segment.

Rental Management Market Movers
Companies with less than $1 million in annual event rental revenue

Leaders in percentage growth 2019 to 2021

Company Location 2019 2021 % growth
CSE Services Waymart, Pa. 32,646 105,170 222
Mainely Events Biddeford, Maine 68,754 177,237 158
The Grand Event Design and Decor Northport, Ala. 147,000 357,000 143
Signature Event Rentals Fredericksburg, Va. 166,768 343,737 111
Amusement, Exhibit & Event Services Las Vegas 450,000 850,000 89
Alpenglow Events Crested Butte, Colo. 170,000 300,000 76
Let's party Rental Normal, Ill. 393,603 569,520 45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making something out of nothing

A few companies that submitted information to be considered as a Rental Management Market Mover in the event rental segment are making headway but did not qualify because the companies were not in business in 2019.

The stories of KMH Event Group d/b/a A-1 Party, Tent & Tool, St. Louis; Trend Event Rentals, Lake Forest, Ill.; and Vision Event Rentals, Gloucester, Ontario, Canada, however, are notable.

For example, Joshua Horn, owner, KMH Event Group d/b/a A-1 Party, Tent & Tool, purchased a 53-year-old company in 2021 after it had been closed for almost a year.

“With little inventory of value, no employees, no systems and no processes, we were able to open back up and build out a sizeable operation,” Horn says.

“In our first year of operation from April to December 2021, despite innumerable challenges, we grew the company to seven employees and $224,000 in sales from nothing. After numerous trainings, the support of the American Rental Association (ARA) and the Manufacturers and Tent Renters Association (MATRA), and lots of hard hours, we brought back A-1 Party for our market. In our second year, through only six months, we have already eclipsed our 2021 revenue numbers and are expanding into a warehouse double the size of our first,” Horn says.

In Lake Forest, Mary Hess started Trend Event Rentals during the pandemic and reported $3,500 in rental revenue in 2020 and grew the business to $35,500 in revenue in 2021.

“Although it started off slowly, I am growing and building this little business and having a blast. I think it’s important to feature small businesses along with the biggies so that everyone knows that they can do this and make it in this business despite the craziness of the past two years,” Hess says.

Two sisters who started Vision Event Rentals — Stephanie Lalonde, 21, and Emilie Lalonde, 23 — opened the business right before the pandemic and reported about $1,000 in rental revenue in 2020, increasing business to $10,000 in 2021 and already have eclipsed that total and then some in 2022.

“We have worked extremely hard to get this business on its feet and the last two years have been extremely hard, but this year the business has exploded,” Stephanie says. “We are extremely busy and constantly buying more inventory to satisfy our clients. We are doing more in a weekend this year than we would in a whole month last year.”

Wayne Walley

Wayne WalleyWayne Walley

Wayne Walley is the editor-in-chief for Rental Management and American Rental Association (ARA) vice president, publishing. He provides strategic direction for the editorial content of all Rental Management publications and products. In his career, he has profiled hundreds of celebrities and business leaders. Outside of his work, he is an avid long-time collector of breweriana and pop culture items that he sells through his wife’s retail gift shop in LeClaire, Iowa.

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