WHETHER THEY'RE laminate or aluminum, plywood or plastic, event tables must be built to last and made to move with ease. In this month's feature, table manufacturers point out the pros of the latest models and materials, and explain why, when it comes to event tables, light makes right.
Across the board, table-makers are talking about the popularity of lightweight tables. As Vince Rhoton of Clearfield, Utah-based table manufacturer Lifetime Products puts it, “When you move one heavy table, that's one thing. When you move a hundred, that can be a real problem.” Other experts weigh in below.
Chicago-based Midwest Folding Products' Ken Hufstater sees the move toward lighter tables as an outgrowth of a changing labor pool. “There are more women being employed in setup,” he says. “Women don't necessarily have the strength to carry heavy tables.” To accommodate the increase in female staff, his company now offers a variety of lightweight ABS plastic tables, in addition to its selection of laminate-top and steel-edge plywood tables.
Stephanni Hicken of Orem, Utah-based Mity-Lite notes a call for tables that can be set up easily by a limited number of staff. Hicken says her company's products — including its popular 72- and 96-inch rectangles and 60- and 72-inch rounds — fill that bill. “Customers have told us they can cut labor anywhere from 30 to 50 percent” by using Mity-Lite's folding-leg ABS plastic tables, she reports. She adds that lightweight tables also can reduce costly workers' compensation claims.
Along with ease of handling, table buyers are looking for flexibility, both in product function and customer service, manufacturers say.
David Dwaard of Colfax, Iowa-based Monroe Table Co. says his operation meets that need through its custom building capabilities. Clients can order “just about any type of folding table in any shape, size, color — whether straight wood products, laminate products, plywood or pressed board,” he explains. Leading sales these days is the company's knockdown cocktail table, which can be crafted in solid wood or laminate, with different center-pedestal heights and a choice of edgings.
New to Midwest Folding's product line is an adjustable-height pedestal-style cocktail table, which can be set at heights of 30, 36 or 42 inches. The flexible table emerged out of the company's flexibility in meeting the needs of Las Vegas' Bellagio hotel — a top client, according to Hufstater. “They had suggested it to us,” he says, explaining that the property was in the habit of putting tables of different heights side by side to make a tiered display for buffets. The new model gives Bellagio and other clients a variety of looks while it “saves on inventory — you don't have to buy three different tables,” he adds.
When it comes to choosing the best table for the job, manufacturers advise buyers to study their own usage patterns and storage limitations.
Yes, her company's tables tend to be more expensive than competitors,' admits Jodi Spakes. But for heavy use, especially in hot climates, Magnolia, Ark.-based Southern Aluminum Manufacturing's aluminum tables are ideal, she says. “Outdoors in the sun, they will not warp or melt. You can put a casserole dish on them — you won't have any problem.”
For clients with table transportation concerns, Rhoton points to Lifetime's recently introduced “fold-in-half” tables as a good choice. The 72-inch-long rectangular models fold down to three feet in length, making them “much easier for storage and transportation if you're trying to put them in the trunk of a car,” he says.
For venues looking to reduce floor-space storage, Midwest Folding is focusing on efficient table storage systems. Its new multi-level, high-rise storage unit, for instance, can “reduce floor-space storage by about 50 percent,” Hufstater reports.
He adds that the company's table trucks now feature ramps to ease the handling of rounds, and supports to keep the tables upright during unloading — “a matter of safety,” he says — and during storage. “If people don't have a means to store and handle their tables, they get beat up so quickly, in a short time the tables are unserviceable,” he explains. “Spending a little bit of money up front in a good storing and handling system will maintain the integrity of the table.”
Lifetime Products, 800/242-3865; Midwest Folding Products, 800/344-2864; Mity-Lite, 800/327-1692; Monroe Table Co., 800/247-2488; Southern Aluminum Manufacturing, 800/221-0408