THEY'VE BEEN WITH us from the beginning, leading the evolution of special events. They're the devoted vendors who, for 20 years straight, have showcased their products and services in Special Events Magazine, supplying planners, designers and producers with everything they need to execute exceptional events. Here, we hear from them on growing a business while contributing to the creation of an industry.
With its 110-year history as a manufacturer of fabric structures, Evansville, Ind.-based Anchor Industries is not just among Special Events' longest-running advertisers — it's one of the nation's most venerable vendors.
The company that started out supplying tarps to boat traffic on the Ohio River now employs more than 550 skilled workers, says advertising and marketing manager Mary Ann Mays.
According to Mays, “optimum design, careful engineering, skilled craftsmanship and expert service” have led to the company's solid standing in the event industry.
Among the company's contributions to industry growth are its clear-spans, which “have become an important option to renters because they have been adapted to repeated installations and are easier to handle than in the past,” she adds.
To keep up with a future where “businesses and industry will increase emphasis on the value of gatherings … to trade ideas, influence attitudes and provide connections,” Mays says, Anchor will rise to the challenge. The company's structures “will provide the shelter and backdrop for this new culture because they allow for flexibility, portability and quick access to expansion,” she predicts.
PEAK OF SUCCESS
Also bolstered by the benefit of experience — it's been in business since 1895 — is Eureka! The Tent Co. “The release of the Genesis event tent in 1986 really launched our event tent business,” says national sales manager Jim G. Reyen, describing the Binghamton, N.Y.-based company's peaked “wedding-style” structure.
Since that time, Eureka has grown through its focus on service. “We've always partnered with our customers to provide the most elegant and nicest party venue for the end user,” he says. “Our goal is for all individuals in the industry to do well, whether it's the planner, caterer or rental customer.”
Client demands — “Today, it's expected that you're providing equipment that meets building codes, is aesthetically pleasing and can be set up within the time constraints of the job” — will continue to press Eureka to impress, according to Reyen. “You'll see improvements in lighting, climate control, safety and security,” he says. “Tents will continue to grow in size and complexity,” he adds, guided by the “creativity of planners, caterers and decorators.”
In the 30 years since Carrollton, Texas-based Snap Drape International first launched in a family garage, business has boomed. First-year sales for the business, which supplies table linen and skirting systems, were about $35,000, according to company president Darrin Garlish. “Now we process that amount of business before noon every day!” he says.
As the company has grown, Garlish explains, so has the market Snap Drape serves. “One of the biggest changes has been the need for very specialized fabrics and colors for the ever-demanding special events industry,” he says. To continue meeting client needs over the next five years, he adds, Snap Drape will create new products with the goal of becoming a one-stop-shop for table linen. “By becoming a single source,” Garlish says, “we are trying to make it easier for the industry to get the products they need quickly and simply.”
BUILT TO GRILL
Information technology has had a direct impact on Big John Grills & Rotisseries' growth in the event market. “Four years ago nobody knew what a rotisserie was,” says Steve McLaughlin, director of marketing and sales for the Pleasant Gap, Pa.-based company. The launch of Big John's Web site changed all that, and connected the grill and rotisserie manufacturer to the world of special events, McLaughlin adds.
In the company's 40 years, he says, product development has relied on market feedback. “Our customers are a unique group,” he explains. “They will tell you their mind.” As a result, Big John's focus has been “listening to customers and giving them what they want.”
These days that includes charcoal grills, charcoal rotisseries and gas cooking equipment, which exceeded charcoal equipment sales four years ago. “Fifteen years ago, we couldn't have dreamed about that,” Mc Laughlin says.
BUY OR TRY
Offering both sales and rentals “has given us the edge to design new products and stay ahead of the competition,” says Aztec Tents & Events president Chuck Miller.
In business more than 35 years, the Torrance, Calif.-based company seen many of its new designs — including the expandable Legend tent series — make their mark on the event market, he adds.
Having been involved in the world of tents and events for years, Miller has observed many changes he says will continue to enhance both industries. Among advancements he predicts: “A better control of inventory, possibly through bar coding or another sources, new products that install faster and will be more durable in the rental industry, and stricter standards for engineering, permitting and labor.” Aztec plans to meet the challenges of tomorrow by “understanding our customers' needs and expectations and responding to them,” Miller says.
WE'LL DRINK TO THAT
Three decades of dedication to beautifying events have transformed Monrovia, Calif.-based San Marino Fountain Co. into an industry fixture.
With the patenting of its Splashproof Beverage Fountain in 1967, the company began providing event professionals with beverage fountains, cake stands, punch bowls and other party goods, according to company president Ron Linslato. “Our sales are now worldwide and our staff and facility have increased more than sixfold,” he says, and credits Special Events with exposing his products to a broad-based international industry.
Global influences have increased competition in the event marketplace, Linslato adds, driving his company to continuously create newer, better equipment. It's a path he intends to follow into the future. “Twenty years from now, hopefully, Special Events and San Marino Fountain Co. will be celebrating their 40th anniversary,” he says. “Let's make it happen.”
Anchor Industries, 800/544-4445; Aztec Tents & Events, 310/328-5060; Big John Grills & Rotisseries, 800/326-9575; Eureka! The Tent Co., 800/235-2607; San Marino Fountain Co., 800/854-6721; Snap Drape International, 972/466-1030
Academy Tent & Canvas, Los Angeles
Artex, Highland, Ill.
B&C Mortensen Wood Products, Oldtown, Idaho
Belson Outdoors, North Aurora, Ill.
Bil-Jax, Archbold, Ohio
CaterMate, Ithaca, N.Y.
Chace Candles, Albuquerque, N.M.
Innovative Systems, Compton, Calif.
Jomar Inc., Ontario, Calif.
Kestell Furniture Co., New Holstein, Wis.
Rabo Enterprises, Ontario, Calif.
Regal International, Santa Ana, Calif.
Sico Inc., Minneapolis
Solutions by Computer, Springfield, Mass.
Something Different Linen, Clifton, N.J.
American Rotational Molding, Anaheim, Calif.
Benson's Import Co., Huntington Beach, Calif.
California Portable Dance Floor, Camarillo, Calif.
Cloth Connection, Spring Valley, N.Y.
Consolidated Display, Naperville, Ill.
Instant Jungle, Costa Mesa, Calif.
KV International, Arlington, Va.
L&M Manufacturing Co., Chapin, S.C.
Midwest Folding Products, Chicago
Paradise Candles, Paradise, Pa.
Region Welding, Union, Mo.
SculptChair, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Tablecloth Co., Paterson, N.J.