Although it's always hard work, producing our annual party rental issue is always thought provoking. First come the surveys, followed by phone calls, more calls and then more calls. The data flows in and goes through the numbers-crunching process. The pleasure is stepping back and seeing the patterns begin to emerge.
And there are some thought-provoking patterns in this edition.
The most obvious is the popularity of geometric shapes. We quit trying to find new ways to say, “Square plates are hot.” The emphasis on geometric shapes is indicative of a broader trend, where, for the most part, sleek, contemporary styles are trumping traditional.
The message on the business climate is mixed, with some operations showing strong growth over last year, others staying stable and others showing dips. The saying goes that “all politics is local,” and so are economic realities. As Stellar Event & Presentation Resources CEO and president Tom Tucker notes in this month's Guest Room, the market is soft in tech-based Silicon Valley but strong in energy-powerhouse Houston.
It was interesting to see that overall employment for our 25 top operations is up 4.5 percent over last year. With labor so often one of the first expenses cut, strong employment in the party rental sector may signal some inherent stability.
We were also struck by the increasing number of party rental firms beginning to refer to themselves as “event services” companies. This signals a shift in approach. Party rental operators aren't the guys with the trucks showing up with the chairs. Instead, they offer their clients expertise in producing professional special events.
Finally, one very thought-provoking letter crossed my desk this week. Facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer, party rental pioneer Pat Chose of C&M Party Props in Walnut Creek, Calif., is staging a party for “the many folks I know and love.”
For those special event professionals who sometimes wonder what they are doing it all for, stop for a moment. Stop and think how special events bring people together with food and entertainment in beautiful surroundings. They deliberately take us out of the day-to-day to celebrate the wonders of life. Special events remind us to live our lives with purpose, with appreciation and with joy.
Thank you, Mr. Chose, for reminding us of that.