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Indianapolis event rental businesses join forces for a stronger future

By Connie Lannan

November 7, 2023

The management team for the newly joined Indiana Wedding Decorators and Ace Party Rental

The management team for the newly joined Indiana Wedding Decorators and Ace Party Rental

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic gave a gut-punch to every event rental business. Those that survived saw new growth opportunities emerge. That is particularly true for Indianapolis-based Indiana Wedding Decorators and Ace Party Rental.

“Indiana Wedding Decorators was a business I started with a partner in 2014. We offered a wide inventory of all the essentials, including full-service décor, from linens, fine tableware, floral arrangements, lighting, backdrops and ceiling treatments to all the elements needed for traditional and cultural weddings. Ace Party Rental, which was started in 2007, had expertise in tents, staging, dance floors, tables, chairs, inflatables and carnival games. They did not have décor items. We both survived COVID and the partners of both companies started conversations about whether it would make more sense if we came together. We determined we were a good fit to come together for our customers to have a one-stop shop here, so in January 2021 we announced our joint affiliation,” says Michele Rogers, one of the partners and owners of the new venture.

That January, the two businesses brought their combined staff, inventory and trucks into the new 18,000-sq.-ft. location, complete with a warehouse, showroom and offices. The logistics of bringing together two event rental operations weren’t easy, especially since “we came together when it was one of the biggest growth years ever because we were trying to put in place all these events after all the cancellations due to COVID,” Rogers says.

“We were all working in the business during this time. We didn’t have time to stop and create all the new processes for the new organization,” she says, adding that it has been a task they’ve been steadily chipping away at since that initial move.

Under this new venture, the companies created a new fiscal identity of Ace Your Event Indy. “Ace Your Event Indy is our umbrella company. Ace Party Rental is the name of our business, and Indiana Wedding Decorators is the decorating portion of the company,” she says.

This move has resulted in an explosive 460 percent growth rate, generating Rental Management Market Mover status in the June/July 2023 issue of the magazine.

Some of the operation's team members

Some of the operation’s team members

Rogers attributes that seismic growth to “our coming together and the pent-up demand for event rentals after the pandemic. We put two years’ worth of weddings into 2021 and still had rollover in 2022,” she says.

By joining forces, they enhanced their ability to “upmarket to all the Ace Party Rental customers with all the things that Indiana Wedding Decorators can offer,” she says. “Now we can do their linens, tabletop and other things inside the tents. We also are a major sponsor partner with Indy Eleven, the professional soccer team in town. We do their hospitality tents and have another large account in town in which we do their football season tents for their alumni. We focus on building and developing vendor relationships.”

Another niche growth service area is cultural weddings. Having staff who are fluent in American Sign Language, Spanish, Hindi Punjabi and Caribbean Creole has helped tremendously in this effort.

“Our clientele is diverse. We have a large Indian clientele. I love doing those weddings. I love the heritage, the tradition and the celebration. People show up and stay to dance. We recently had a woman from Honduras join us. She has helped us with our Spanish-speaking clients. We are doing more quinceañeras because we have someone who can communicate in Spanish,” Rogers says, adding that both are “great referral markets.”

To help them stay on that growth path, they outsourced their social media efforts for a while. It worked so well “we had to slow down the social media because we were so busy. We had to stop taking orders for two weeks because we were so booked. We are about to get back into that, but we have been so busy for the last two years. We are shoring up our resources for what we will need to have in place to grow,” Rogers says.

Some of the warehouse team members

Some of the warehouse team members

To stay successful, they know they need a happy and dedicated rental team. With a staff of about 50 during the busy season and 20 during the slower seasons, the company is working to keep their new combined staff members engaged and listened to.

“We want to invest in our staff so our staff can invest in our clients so they can ace their events. They are the ones in the field and seeing the challenges and seeing there is a better way. Creating an environment where they feel they can bring that to the table is important to us,” Rogers says.

To help bring the staff together, they have implemented employee appreciation programs, including Thanksgiving and Christmas potlucks as well as other events. “We have to make this a place they want to come to, that they are part of a family and feel appreciated. If they are having a challenge in their life, they can come and talk with someone and we can try to help,” she says.

Rogers admits it has been quite the whirlwind these last few years. It’s all about being willing to pivot to the circumstances presented.

That is a lesson Rogers learned early in her career when she was a professional dancer in England, married and moved to Indiana, became one of the first wedding planners in the state and started Indiana Wedding Decorators with a partner. Now she has survived the pandemic, helped bring two companies together and serves as one of the partners and owners of the newly formed Ace Party Rental.

“You have to learn to adapt. Be cognizant of the economy. You have to be aware of how to play that survival game. Be aware of what is going on around you,” she says.

Sure, there have been challenges, but “I think we have been successful at overcoming those challenges,” Rogers says. “I am proud of the accomplishments — of where we have come in a short period of time. We are well-known for customer service. I think that sets us apart. We now have to be successful at moving it forward so we can be poised for growth in the future. I am excited to see where we can go with the help of a strong team.”