Ned Parker, CERP
The ARA of Virginia recently welcomed two industry professionals to its board of directors.
Ned Parker, CERP, Party Perfect, Richmond, Va.
Parker, co-owner of Party Perfect, became involved in the event rental industry in 2016 soon after graduating from King University, Bristol, Tenn., with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. “After graduation, I started a career in residential solar and soon after had the opportunity to get involved in the rental industry,” he says.
During his seven years of experience in the industry, Parker earned his CERP (Certified Event Rental Professional) credentials through the American Rental Association (ARA) and began to establish peer connections that ultimately led to an invitation to fill an available seat on the ARA of Virginia board.
“Two current board members — David Darby [of Rent-E-Quip, Colonial Heights, Va.] and Matt Smith [of Special Events Entertainment, Portsmouth, Va.] — reached out to me about it, and it piqued my interest,” Parker says.
A personal sense of professional growth and some encouragement from a few of his staff at Party Perfect made Parker answer the call to serve. “I try to stay involved in the industry as much as possible and getting involved with the board would be a new experience for me. I was also ‘pressured’ by employees of mine saying it would be a great opportunity,” he says.
During his tenure on the ARA of Virginia board, Parker hopes to collaborate with his fellow board members on any initiatives that can help in the area of workforce development. “Finding labor can be difficult sometimes, so addressing the challenges everyone is facing and providing solutions would be a goal of mine,” he says.
Aside from his professional pursuits within ARA, which include participation at The ARA Show™ and involvement in the Young Professional Network (YPN), Parker is a regular attendee of MATRA (Manufacturers and Tent Renters Association) events.
Outside of the day-to-day of event rentals, Parker, who was a collegiate volleyball player, continues to play the sport at the Richmond Volleyball Club.
Andrew Owens, Clements Tent Rentals, Warsaw, Va.
Owens, vice president of operations for Clements Tent Rentals, became part of the event rental industry soon after his marriage in 2018. While the segment may not have been first nature for him, he jumped right in out of a sense of family dedication. “My wife and I decided to move back to her hometown where her father owned Clements Tent Rentals,” he says. “That winter he fell and broke his hip. I had been working in construction my whole life as a homebuilder and this expedited my decision to join the party rental industry.”
Owens earned his bachelor’s degree in 2010 from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Va., with a major in business management and a minor in construction management. He says he has always loved small business — he also is owner/operator of a construction company in Richmond, Va. — and stepping in to help run Clements Tent Rentals was “the opportunity to help my family and pursue a passion. I started running the operation in 2019 with my sister-in-law and we have scaled up the operation to do larger-sized events while still servicing our core and hometown with the smaller events like backyard barbecues. We are a small but mighty organization and have more experience than most of the big names in the area as we have been around for over 35 years.”
Owens adds that his background in construction “makes it easy to build our structure tents and create new designs for unique events in tight spaces.”
Industry connections brought ARA of Virginia leadership onto Owens’s radar.
“We met with Party Perfect at a bridal show in Richmond and really kicked it off. We decided to tour each other’s warehouses and Ned Parker hinted to me that there was an opening on the board when he was at our warehouse. It’s all history from there,” Owens says.
Following that meeting, Owens’s affection for the industry he serves and camaraderie with his peers sealed the deal for his acceptance of the offer to join his ARA state chapter’s leadership team. “I love the industry. It’s incredible how willing our ‘competitors’ — I use that word loosely as I consider them more as friends — are to help us and each other out. I am constantly looking for new ideas and wanting to be involved in the latest in the industry. What better way to do that than to get on a board?” he says.
Owens says that starting off as an ARA of Virginia board member, “I want to get familiar with the doings and involvements the ARA has throughout the state. A big point for me is the permitting process and governmental involvement in the industry. I also believe the industry as a whole is undervalued — at least regarding certain products. We are a mobile event service that constructs tents that are thousands of square feet in size in a single day. We are the integral part to the biggest day of people’s lives — weddings and celebrations — and we have to be perfect. That pressure should be demanding a fair to premium price point that is difficult to convey to customers and rental professionals around the industry.”
“I’m really excited to be on the board,” Owens says. “I look forward to bringing more awareness to our industry, helping to solve some of the problems we face and perhaps make it easier for everyone to operate.”