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Editor's Page February 2008: New Business

Forks have been a regular part of the dinner table scene since the 17th century. Spoons have had their place since the days of the Paleolithic parties. (Cro-Magnon man had come up with hunting, fishing and plant-gathering, so his menus were way over the top compared with those same-old, same-old Neanderthal do's.)

Many basics that event rental companies offer haven't changed — other than showing up in cool new colors and sexy new shapes. In this issue, assistant editor Christine Landry takes a look at how trend-setting designers are setting their tables today — turn to page 43 for more.

This issue also presents our annual rental forecast, and in some ways here as well, not much has changed. The pressure to add new inventory remains a constant, with a record-setting 88 percent of our respondents saying it's a sales-building tactic they will use this year.

Yesterday's problems are today's status quo. When we asked if shorter lead times were going to be a major challenge this year, the question was greeted with a yawn. “How much shorter can they get?” quips Steve Kohn, head of Miller's Rentals in Edison, N.J. (We photographed this month's cover at his showroom.)

Yet the pressure of rising costs, the wave of consolidation in event rental and the specter of a slowdown in the economy are clouds on the horizon.

“I have talked to several companies who are struggling like never before, and they have been in business for decades,” notes J.P. Fritz, head of Lasting Impressions Event Rentals in Columbus, Ohio.

But the event rental business is a can-do business, and our respondents gave us a list of new business initiatives. Fritz will be doing more “large event rentals, larger tented events, plus decor and lighting,” he says. “We intend on going after more regional events.”

From his base in San Bernardino, Calif., JZ's Party Charm owner Sandy Sandoval is watching his business landscape shift in the face of Classic Party Rentals' consolidation push. But he isn't content just to watch.

“We are going way beyond rentals,” he tells us. “We are decorating, including props in our rental inventories and trying to make ourselves different from our competitor.” He adds, “I know business is tough. We just need to get creative in how we run our business and how we deal with big competitors in our target market.”

The staff from Special Events will be at the Rental Show in Vegas this month — please stop by our booth and share your new ideas.

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