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'Too' busy? Party rental operators scramble to keep pace

Ask party rental operations, "How's business?" and you may have to wait for an answer. Why? They're too busy to reply.

At Atlas Party Rental in Boynton Beach, Fla., "Revenue has increased 400 percent in the last seven years and 75 percent in the last two years," explains vice president and chief operating officer Eric Wechsler. "We've also seen that the jobs and the events themselves are getting bigger as more people and businesses move into the area."

Mark Clawson agrees. The head of Salt Lake City-based Diamond Rental says he has seen a 25 percent boost in revenue from his three party rental stores this year over last.


And this business bubbles up from "across the board," says Michael Miner, vice president of sales and marketing for Los Angeles-based Classic Party Rentals. "It's coming from event planners, caterers, wedding planners--all the segments that we work with."

To serve the bigger bashes, party rental operators are beefing up their own capabilities. "We have increased our staff as well as our truck fleet," Wechsler says. "We've also increased basic inventory, settings for larger events, and our selection of both new and specialty items. Ours is not just a drop-off and pickup service, and it's crucial to our business and our customers' satisfaction that we respond to these needs."

Classic Party Rentals is in a unique position to service the boom in business. In the last year, the company has nearly doubled its revenue, to $185 million annually, due in part to its acquisition of 11 new rental outlets. Thanks to its network, "We are able to share products and team members from other locations that may not be experiencing a spike in activity," Miner explains. Even so, the company has expanded its truck fleet--both purchased and leased--by about 10 percent in the last year, Miner estimates, all the better to move inventory between its outlets in California and Phoenix.

This ability to shift inventory and personnel to where it's needed has meant Classic has not had to turn down any business. "We've been able to work around schedules and accommodate our clients by working with other locations," Miner says. For example, for the Oct. 29 gala celebrating the reopening of L.A.'s landmark Griffith Park Observatory, Classic will pull in equipment and staff from three of its outlets to ensure a gorgeous gala.


For all the good news that good times bring, business booms bring their own set of headaches. For one, the strong economy means other industries are growing, too, and competing for employees.

"The pressure is on for semiskilled labor," Clawson notes. "People who are just starting out and need to make enough money to support a family and have some toys are getting really compelling offers from other businesses. Tent installer or tile installer? If someone can make $5 more an hour installing granite countertops, we lose good people."

For the full story, see the November issue of Special Events Magazine.

Photo by © Gert Vrey

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