The path Jim McManus took to his current job had plenty of twists.
He has been a dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, busboy, waiter, sommelier, hotel food and beverage director, entrepreneur, landscaper and mason's helper, with studies in pre-law, premed and hotel administration along the way. And it all has helped him in special events. "Everything I have done has really contributed to me being successful in what I do now," he says.
As the executive director of sales for Teterboro, N.J.-based Party Rental Ltd., "my primary focus is on new business development, product development and service development," McManus explains.
With offices in New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, Party Rental serves corporate and high-end social clients. The company does "thousands" of events a year, McManus says. Recent events included a Jimmy Buffett-style birthday party for 500 (see the September issue of Special Events Magazine), the Bloomberg company picnic for 7,500 (see page 21) and the U.S. Open tennis championships.
He praises Party Rental founders and owners Mike and Sunny Halperin. "They built this business from scratch 28 years ago," he says. "They have tremendous vision and a beautiful sense of style. But their greatest skill is capitalizing on teamwork."
Party Rental builds its team by being "very good to employees," McManus says. As a result, "people come to us" for jobs.
In September, McManus joined the Special Events Magazine Advisory Board. Now 39, he has spent 23 years in some form of special events and has seen plenty of changes.
"Years ago, party rental was white-rimmed china," he says. "Now we've expanded into many different styles of china, glass, silverware."
But the explosion in inventory available to event producers has put new pressures on party rental operators.
In terms of service, "our clients demand more of us every year," McManus says. The secret to boosting party rental revenue is not merely to expand inventory but "to develop a good team of people with the knowledge, skills and experience to make it happen."