Los Angeles-based rental powerhouse Classic Party Rentals announced yesterday that CEO Brent Mumford [pictured] resigned effective June 3. Mumford took the post 19 months ago, in November 2014. He had succeeded Jeff Black, who held the post for 2 ½ years. Black is now CEO at La Tavola Fine Linen.
The Classic press release said that Jeffrey Gault, a member of Classic's board of directors, will step in as interim CEO as the search is under way for a successor. "While he expressed an intent to resign some time ago, Classic appreciates Brent remaining to ensure a smooth transition and execute on certain critical company priorities," Gault added in a statement. "We appreciate Brent's contributions during his tenure and all of us wish him well in his future endeavors."
In an interview with Special Events yesterday, Classic spokesperson Samantha Sackler confirmed that West Coast regional vice president Cesar Torres and chief operating officer Nathan Lowstuter will provide guidance to Classic general managers on day-to-day operations while the CEO search goes on.
Sackler also confirmed that Classic exploring "options on the table" for its operations east of Dallas, which includes the possible sale of these outlets.
After an aggressive acquisition program 10 years ago, Classic has been buffeted by headwinds including the Great Recession and sluggish recovery. The last few months have seen several longtime Classic account executives from the Los Angeles office leave the company to join competitors.
PRESSURE TO CUT COSTS
A rental expert close the company who asked to remain anonymous says that the pressure to hold down costs in the face of the debt load has likely contributed to the headaches at Classic.
"A few poorly timed decisions also impacted the operations teams, which also influenced some of the sales team's decisions," the source tells Special Events. "Sales cannot function without quality and experienced operations, and operations cannot function without quality and experienced sales in our industry. Event rental logistics matter on both sides, and squeezing dollars from the people—labor--can be a double-edged sword."
Another source tells Special Events that offers have been made on some of Classic's locations, but these offers have been rebuffed. This source believes that Classic management is intent on recouping its initial investment in the outlets, "when, unfortunately for them, this has no bearing on current value."
CLASSIC'S STRENGTHS REMAIN
Former Classic sales and marketing vice president Michael Miner, now chief operations officer at Detroit-based Display Group, praises former leadership at Classic as people who understood the business. "Classic was built on solid fundamentals and outstanding customer service," he says. But since the departure of CEO John Campanelli in September 2009, "the company is at best a rudderless ship. The vaunted focus on customer service seems to be a distant memory."
But Miner stresses, the Classic organization has many strengths. "The good news is the many highly talented and dedicated crew members, sales professionals, warehouse leaders and other team members remain dedicated and focused on doing the right thing. Every day," he says. "If they are provided support by senior management, the company can rebuild. If senior management fails to support them, these skilled and experienced industry professionals will be welcomed to bring their talents to other groups in our industry."
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