Special Events

Tools of the Trade: Fresh Juice

Why is power equipment an important part of special events? “A better question would be, ‘What would an event be like without power and temperature control?’” counters Tony Tauer, general manager of Frederick, Md.-based United Rentals Special Events. “There would be no sound system. There would be no lights. The patrons would be uncomfortable.” Eliminating these unpleasant possibilities is the sole goal of today's top event power pros.

QUIET TIME

When it comes to event power equipment, reliability is essential, experts say. But, they add, dependable generators won't cut it if they don't deliver the silent treatment.

“We are constantly developing and improving our product line to meet changing needs,” says Lisa Buchanan, sales manager for Rancho Dominguez, Calif.-based MQ Power Corp. What doesn't change, she adds, is the need for quiet power.

To best serve event clients, her company offers its Crawford studio generators. Ranging from 250 amps to 2,400 amps, “Each unit is designed with the end user's needs in mind,” she says. Among primary applications, she counts concerts, tented events and “various other uses where sound attenuation, reliability and clean power play a role.”

While silent power is the modern standard, it hasn't always been that way, says Gary Meador, North American event manager for Aggreko Event Services, based in The Woodlands, Texas. Until the mid-'80s, he notes, “When someone spoke of a rental generator, the only thing available would have been a very loud unit, without the silenced canopy.” Now his company doesn't just keep power hushed, he says, but has pushed the envelope with such innovations as its uninterruptible-power Twinpack generators and its Greenpower line of silenced environment-friendly units.

AIM TO SERVE

While power providers continue to customize equipment for the event market, they're also creating new service strategies.

“Quick response is imperative to limiting downtime and to job success,” according to Buchanan, who says MQ takes such measures as making on-call technicians available 24 hours a day either to assist by phone or to travel to the job site.

“I don't see as much of a change in the equipment as I do with the attitude of the rental industry,” says Cindy Carter, regional manager of Kohler Event Services, Las Vegas, part of Kohler Rental Power's nationwide network. “Our emphasis is strictly on exceeding the customer's expectations with the reliability of services rendered. It is our goal to be a one-stop-shopping source,” she adds.

With the power industry's recognition of special events as a distinct market, Meador says, “Customers who had never considered using generators because of their industrial image gradually began to trust rental generators.” As the relationship between rental power and events continues to evolve, he adds, generators have gone from being “a backup source for utility power, or only used if no power was available, to being the primary power source, with utility power as a backup.”

GO WITH THE FLOW

“In most cases, without power, there is no event,” Meador says. But with the right rental power, he insists, clients have “unlimited options when it comes to location selection, lighting design, catering, decorating and the little things that make their projects stand out.”

Among memorable events, he cites the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games, for which Aggreko provided 110 staff, more than 100 megawatts of power, more than 3,000 electrical distribution panels and more than 500 miles of cable. According to Meador, his most unforgettable moments at the event were spent watching United States Army Blackhawk helicopters fly Aggreko generators in and lower them onto snowy mountainsides. “That was just cool!” he says.




RESOURCES

Aggreko Event Services, 281/298-9151; Kohler Event Services Las Vegas, 866/487-8844, 702/617-0642; MQ Power Corp., 800/421-1244, 310/537-3700; United Rentals Special Events, 800/522-8368

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