Special Events

THE LAST WORD: LANCE YORK OF TRISERVE

As a stalwart in New York's event production scene, Lance York has felt the force of both 9/11 and the economy's recent slide. But the man behind the marketing plan for New York-based TriServe The Party Rental Co. insists he won't let uncertainty about the future shackle his company. “We don't say, ‘Let's not buy this new type of glass or china because we're worried about what might happen,’” York says. “We have to move forward like we always have and just try to be the best company — the most efficient, most creative, most service-oriented — out there.”

A positive attitude has formed the foundation of many of TriServe's most fruitful business endeavors, according to York. Among these, he cites the 2001 decision to merge his former company, Service Party Rentals, with another of New York's top operations, Tri State Party Rentals, into $10 million powerhouse TriServe. The merged company benefits from both Service's marketing and sales expertise and Tri State's warehouse and trucking capabilities, York says, adding that the result has been consistent growth and a rock-solid reputation for quality among the East Coast's most demanding event pros.

Today 150-employee-strong TriServe maintains a 75,000-square-foot warehouse along with showrooms on Manhattan's Upper East Side and in swank Southampton. Recent events the company has supplied include openings for Broadway hits “Hairspray” and “Oklahoma,” as well as the wedding of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. York says much credit for success in the high-profile entertainment-industry and celebrity-wedding segments rests squarely with Linda Lieberman, head of TriServe's specialty linen spinoff Just Linens Ltd., housed in the company's Manhattan headquarters. “Linda is really in charge of event design and creating a look for parties,” he explains. “She works with planners to make sure parties are amazing.”

Both Lieberman's expertise and an upbeat outlook came in especially handy when a recent event crisis hit close to home. York says it was just weeks before his twin daughters' b'nai mitzvah when he realized that the shipment of custom linen he'd ordered from India for the occasion would not arrive in time. “A week before the party, Linda was in the silk district in New York shopping for fabric,” he recalls. Lieberman finally found the right aqua-and-gold fabric to fit the event's Moroccan theme, “and in a matter of three days, we cut 375 chair covers, custom silk napkins, everything,” he says. “It was unbelievable.”




TriServe The Party Rental Co. 770 Lexington Ave., New York, NY 10021; 212/288-7384; www.triservepartyrentals.com

EYE ON STYLE

“The trends we're seeing are colored glassware, including wineglasses, flutes and martini glasses in amber, ruby red and greens. Modern is still very popular — we call it a ‘Calvin Klein’ look. In linens, the market for high-end accessories, custom silks, moiré and all kinds of interesting fabrics was curtailed to an extent after 9/11, but in the last couple of months, I've seen it come back.”

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

“My feeling is it's bad for the industry when companies steal away clients based on a nickel here and a nickel there. Some companies are offering substantial discounts to lure clients away, and even losing money on the deal. To operate at a loss, quite frankly, is inherently unfair business practice. Let's rely on product quality, product development and service.”

REAL REWARDS

“I spend a lot of time meeting clients, going out, getting feedback, talking about events. With a lot of my clients, I'll talk about things that they want from us — what kinds of products, what can we bring into the marketplace that will make sense for them. I enjoy that. But the best part of my job is creating an amazing party and actually seeing it at the event.”

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