The next Winter Olympics are a year away, but for Eddie Redman, the Games already have begun. On Nov. 1, Redman reported to work as the program manager of material management and planning for the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic Winter Games of 2002.
Redman works with the committee's logistics department to create the catalog of more than 2,000 items - from snow-making machines to folding chairs - to be used by the 14 venues during the Games, which run from Feb. 8-24. "The goal is to capture everything that every entity will need," he says.
To be sure, he meets with all departments, including security, sports and finance, before purchasing the items, which will be stored in a 300,000-square-foot warehouse. He also relies on his years of experience in the event rental industry.
He began his rental career 15 years ago by working summers delivering equipment for Abbey Party Rents in Seattle, where his father has worked for the last 40 years. Eventually, "I got approached by Abbey to manage a store in the Los Angeles area," Redman says. "I worked my way up to the biggest store in the chain in 1986."
Missing his family and friends, Redman moved back to Abbey in Seattle in 1988. During the next nine years, he tripled the store's revenue, he says. "I worked on all major event sales, including Bill Gates' wedding reception, the 1990 Goodwill Games, the World Trade Organization meeting in 1999 - and Seattle's millennium New Year's Eve that never was," he says with a smile. He also provided consulting services for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Through the years he has seen the event industry win greater recognition. "There are more products being specially made for the industry, like indoor pyro and lighting designed just for tents," he says. "In the old days, you had to get track lighting and wire it."
Although the Closing Ceremony takes place Feb. 24, Redman will continue to work until June 30. "After the Olympics, we are also responsible for the Paralympics for physically challenged athletes in March," he says.
Eventually, he will return to Seattle and get back into the event rental industry. For now he loves the variety his current job affords. "I get to deal with so many different things - high-level and low-level meetings, hands-on stuff and helping people understand why we're doing what," he says. "It's never the same old thing."
"There can be disappointments in your life, but anger doesn't solve anything. I try to never let anger control my decisions, to not get too emotional. It will take you down a path you don't need to go down. Instead, I analyze why something makes me angry and how I can solve it."
"Everyone thinks they are an event planner. And there are a lot of event planners who are not qualified. People just jump in looking for fame and fortune. They think because it's the `special event' industry, there is a lot of money in it. You really have to watch costs, especially in labor. You can make money, but you have to be astute at doing it."
"People are getting away from cookie-cutter events where you do the same thing year after year. They are taking an idea and running with it. Or they are taking a product never used in the event industry and tying it into decor."