The biggest company in event rental has been through some big changes in the last decade. After a blockbuster acquisition push, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last year, and a changing cast of CEOs, Los Angeles-based Classic Party Rentals is now under the leadership of Brent Mumford, who took the post just over a year ago. His broad background includes a BS from West Point in operations research, an MBA, and a variety of executive roles, including with a stint with an industrial rental equipment company. His plan: to leverage Classic's considerable network of offices, inventory and rental talent to keep it at the forefront of the rental industry.
Mumford's background has taught him that the crucial element in successful business operations—and certainly rental—is "building a great team of people with diverse talents and backgrounds," he says, "who are committed to the same goals and objectives." Indeed, it was the strength of the team at Classic that drew him to the company. Calling the Classic crew "an incredible team with unmatched industry experience," he says the offer to join the company gave him "an opportunity to work in an environment that is primed for success while being a leader in the industry."
The roller coaster ride that not only Classic but all of rental has been through in the last 10 years—from boom times to consolidation to recession and rebuilding—has shaped his path, Mumford says. "Some of the specific issues encountered by Classic in the past will certainly shape how we handle our future capital investments into our facilities and rental inventory," he explains. "We must do a better job of investing our capital to ensure we can properly service our customers as well as generate cash for reinvestment into our inventory."
Another task he and the Classic management team face is the rebuilding of the Classic brand.
"We are a national brand with a significant footprint, and we need to do a better job communicating what the Classic brand represents," Mumford says. "We have been solidifying our purpose through customer research and internal focus groups and will be launching our refreshed brand in the near future. Our brand promise will revolve around quality of assets and customer service. We are working hard to make the improvements necessary to deliver on that promise."
One challenge Mumford won't be able to overcome—and one no else can, either—is keeping up with the ruthless pace of rental.
"The skills I have acquired through my previous experience of rental-based businesses have given me a great understanding of the intricate relationship and balance between assets, people and customers," he says. "What I wish we could actually do better, is do it all faster. We have a hardworking team, but there is just never enough hours in a day."
Classic Party Rentals 901 W. Hillcrest Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90301; 310/202-0011; www.classicpartyrentals.com
WHERE ARE OUR WORKERS? "Labor is a huge, right-now issue. Across the country, there is a shortage of labor that is driving significant pressures on wages. With the competition for the same labor in multiple industries, such as home-building and transportation, the labor issue is affecting everyone. It will be difficult for companies in the event space to handle the wage inflation without raising prices."
DON'T AIM FOR 'PERFECT' "You can analyze situations and problems with all the data in the world. You can evaluate anecdotal information as much as you want. But at the end of the day, people have to implement solutions, and as humans we all make mistakes so nothing will ever be 'perfect' and fretting over perfection has the potential to slow things down to the point of missing opportunities to improve."
WHAT'S NEXT? "We are constantly evolving the business to service our clients in the best way possible. Expanding inventory, acquiring new talent, new technologies, training and anything that will benefit our customers, is what Classic will focus on now and into the foreseeable future."