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2024 Market Movers: Event Equipment Rentals & Sales

By Connie Lannan

June 6, 2024

Event Equipment Rentals & SalesFor the past 57 years, the Shipper family has been synonymous with rental. Opening their first location in 1967, they sold in 2007 — a record sale of the largest single-location event rental company in the U.S. at the time.

They re-entered the rental market in 2017 with Event Equipment Rentals & Sales, Hodgkins, Ill., this time with a completely different model — business to business.

“We looked at how we could re-enter knowing what we know from our lifetime of experience and skill set. That is where the new model came into play,” says Debra Shipper, chief operating officer (COO).

They focused on items under the tent — chairs, tables, pipe and drape, linens, staging, dance floors, climate control, crowd management, food service, and racking/transporting equipment. Their clientele became end-users such as stadiums and universities, plus other rental companies.

“We are the middleman to a company’s growth,” Debra says. “There are many rental companies that can’t afford to acquire the assets they need to grow their business, get contracts and build relationships with new customers. So, if a rental company is just starting out and they’re trying to build a relationship with a stadium and they need 20,000 chairs, they can get the business by renting from us. When the rental company is in a financial position to grow, they can also purchase the chairs from us.”

After coping with the toll of the pandemic, Debra, her father, Ben III, her brother, Ben IV, and their four core team members focused on rebuilding. It worked. From 2021 to 2023, the company’s annual rental revenue grew 125 percent — an achievement making it a 2024 Market Mover.

This jump resulted from “first, running a highly efficient operation with a very small team who know our dedication to quality, efficiency and labor savings, and can perform at that level. And second, our reputation for customer service, including our relationships with our customers and response times. That has made us a leader,” Debra says.

Even as Debra sees the future of rental with “more large equity companies continuing to acquire rental companies to add to their portfolio,” she says their business model will help them continue to grow.

Tips for growth
  • Be in touch with your data. When the quarter is over and you have lost money, it’s too late. Stay on top of the finances, labor costs, receivables and payables.
  • Connect with your team. Make sure everybody is aware of your goals to be profitable.
  • Answer your phone and emails. At the end of the day, people want to talk with somebody or get a response. There are so many technologies available. There’s no reason you can’t respond immediately.

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