From silver polisher to general manager - Lynch shows rental's career possibilities
by Connie Lannan
Diamond Lynch, CERP, always has been self-motivated and eager to learn new skills. That was evident when she was still in junior high school and came in on the weekends to help her stepfather, who worked at the Austin, Texas, branch of Marquee Event Rentals, get ready for events.
“I would come in on the weekends and help him do small jobs, like tie chair pads and such. Then, later on, there was an opening for help during the summers and weekends. I started helping out in the front office with mailings and then later started polishing the silver by hand as we didn’t have machines for that then,” she says, adding that she loved it and “basically, all my vacation time away from school was spent at Marquee.”
|Diamond Lynch, CERP|
It wasn’t just the ability to work and earn spending money that she loved. Lynch was “mesmerized” by the entire event rental process.
“It still amazes me today. When I would go out and see an event go from a blank canvas — watch the addition of the flooring, tables, chairs, floral and lighting go up and see it go from scratch to a finished product — it is an amazing process to me and very mesmerizing. I love seeing the final production and the family come in and be so excited. It always was intriguing to me to see the entire event process. It is an interesting industry to work in for sure. It is great,” she says.
Her dedication and attention to detail were quickly noticed by her managers. From that job, she moved into the linen area. “I kept working weekends and summers. After I graduated from high school in 2007, I was hired on full time for the laundry department. Then I became a lead of the linen department,” Lynch says.
While Lynch was extremely engaged at work, she also was very busy at home. She gave birth to her son when she was 19, a year after she graduated from high school. Fifteen months after the birth, her son’s father died. Trying to deal with such a tragedy, she poured herself even more into her work.
“When I started here at Marquee, I didn’t think it would be a career. I initially was looking at event planning, but when I became a mother, I realized I couldn’t be away on nights and weekends. I had to be there for my son,” Lynch says, adding that she really loved what she was learning in her roles at Marquee and knew this aspect of event rental would be her career focus.
It was during her time in linens that she started studying for the Certified Event Rental Professional (CERP) designation through the American Rental Association (ARA). That opportunity came about “from my previous boss who brought that up to me to learn more about laundry processing. I wanted to continue to learn more as I was cleaning the linens myself. I think we have one of the best laundry facilities in Austin. We have customers who would like to use our laundry services. That intrigued me. I was constantly trying to know more,” she says, adding that completing the CERP course allowed her to attend The ARA Show™ for the first time “and also receive a dollar raise,” she says.
From linen department lead, she became the linen purchaser. “I had the vendor connections and was picking out linens that we were bringing in for the upcoming seasons,” Lynch says.
“I saw my career was building with Marquee. I was working with vendors to do the linen purchasing, seeing different fabrics, going to ARA conventions and visiting different markets. I was engaged in the learning aspect of it, which I really enjoyed,” Lynch says, adding that she liked how she “continued to grow with Marquee. I was never stagnant.”
From the linen area, she moved into operations and then became assistant operations manager. Most of her learning was on the job, “but I did eventually go back to college, graduating from Austin Community College in 2018. It took me time to complete that because I was working full time,” she says.
Just as she was starting to feel comfortable in her role as assistant operations manager, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit.
That time “was devastating and very trying for all of us. It was one of the hardest days of my life when we had to furlough 95 percent of our employees that I had been working with some 10 to 15 years, not knowing when we would come back. We thought it would be a month and then it dragged on,” she says.
Lynch feels blessed that she was “lucky enough to stay on. I believe that was because I was versed in a lot of different areas,” she says.
During this time, she worked with Marquee’s general manager. “I was kind of an assistant general manager during the COVID scenario. I took on accounting roles and learned the sales aspect. Before all of this, I had been more operations-driven and focused. During this time, I was able to get more in-depth training on both the administration and sales levels of both the Austin and San Antonio locations. It opened up more learning opportunities,” she says.
Like other event rental operations in 2020, Marquee saw the event world turn upside down. Marquee, which has additional locations in Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago and Kansas City, Mo., had been known for working with brides as well as wedding and corporate planners on everything from smaller to very large events. Many of those events were canceled or postponed when the pandemic hit.
“During this time, we did a lot of backyard weddings — putting up smaller tents, having boat weddings and such. Everything was smaller scale as venues weren’t opening up to more than 25 or so here in Texas. Even with the restrictions, we saw people who were excited about getting married and didn’t want to wait. Our Austin location also did some long-term tenting for COVID testing and for some break rooms. Our Chicago location did many more for schools and COVID testing and vaccination sites,” she says.
Her hard work paid off. When restrictions were lifted, the general manager at the time was promoted, and Lynch was named the new general manager for both the Austin and San Antonio locations.
Being made general manager is “life-changing for me,” Lynch says. “When I started, I never expected that I would someday be titled general manager. I always have had great bosses who saw potential in me and knew that I could do more, so they opened up opportunities for me. I was trained to know some of the things they needed me to learn so when an opportunity became available, I was the right fit for the job. It has allowed me to see different aspects of the operations and sales sides and now accounting and human resources as well,” she says, adding it all has been valuable information she is using now as staff are returning and business is growing rapidly.
Lynch’s rise to this level shows that “hard work and dedication pay off,” she says. “I have been dedicated to Marquee for 17 years. It says a lot about myself that I have been here this long. It makes me a proud person that I have been able to develop it all at one place and not had to shuffle around to find the career I do love. I feel I am pretty lucky.”