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Special Events

Classic Party Rentals acquires Prime Event Group

El Segundo, Calif.-based Classic Party Rentals, the largest event rental company in the U.S., announced Monday that it has acquired Prime Event Group, a Tucson, Ariz.-based provider of European-style structures. The acquisition adds new capabilities and geographic coverage to the Classic network. Classic now has 16 locations and generates combined annual revenues of $170 million, according to company reports. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal brings together two titans of the industry. For the past several years, Classic has held the top position on the Special Events Magazine "30 Top Event Rental Companies" list. In 2005, Prime was at No. 4, with an estimated $32 million in annual rental volume.

European and American Styles

Even though Classic acquired the tent rental inventory of market leader Aztec Tents & Events late last year (now called Classic Tents), the Prime acquisition brings in a different product line. Prime's operations include what was formerly known as Roder USA. "Prime has the European structures, whereas [Classic Tents] has the American style, curved beam look," Chuck Miller, head of Classic Tents, tells Special Events Magazine. "Now, our salespeople can take care of everyone's needs."

Also, with Prime's ancillary equipment--including air conditioning and power generators--and operations in the Southeast and Midwest, the Classic network has easier access to new markets, Miller says. "We used to spend hundreds of thousands a year to subrent [that equipment], so this will reduce our costs," he explains.

Conversely, Prime now can take advantage of Classic's broad array of party rental inventory such as chairs, tabletop and the like. Classic's new "Designer 8" line of upscale rental lounge furniture "is right up our customers' alley," Prime executive vice president Murray Hamilton tells Special Events.

Prime produces high-profile events across the country for a range of clients such as BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, U.S. Open Tennis, NASDAQ 100, U.S. Army, Marriott Hotels, Westin Resorts and the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Prime will continue to operate its facilities in Tucson, Phoenix and Miami, and its sales offices in Las Vegas, Detroit, Columbus and northern Virginia.

Prime will continue to operate under the "Prime Event Group" banner for "the foreseeable future," Hamilton says. "We deal with a lot of corporations who know us by our brand." Also, Prime's top management--Hamilton, Chris Martin and Robert Kraak--will stay in place, he adds. "It's business as usual."

“This acquisition immediately provides Classic Party Rentals with additional resources and expertise, which will allow us to better serve our clients,” said John Campanelli, Classic CEO. “From a strategic perspective, the addition of Prime Event Group to our network strengthens our position in Arizona, initiates our expansion into the Florida market, and further supports our existing locations in California, New Mexico and Texas. Our goal is to enhance our position as the leading brand in the special events and temporary structure industries, and our new relationship with Prime clearly helps us to do that.”

Acquisitions to Continue

"The bottom line is that the U.S. has never seen a rental company this large, and what Classic is doing is really exciting," Hamilton says. "As big as our industry is, it's so fragmented that nobody has even come close to creating a nationwide company--but these guys [Classic] are now. And they plan to go forward with expansion."

Noting that the Prime acquisition will boost Classic's capabilities in many ways, Miller adds, "This acquisition shows that one plus one equals three."

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