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Post on ARA Event Rental Facebook page offers valuable guidance

By Connie Lannan

August 23, 2023

After cleaning up by finding dishwashing equipment at auctions, Janet Mathews, second from left, with members of her team, celebrate.

Janet Mathews, owner, Dish & Décor Vintage Rental, Algonquin, Ill., is six years into the event rental industry. As she was preparing to move her operation into a rented warehouse, she wanted to upgrade to a commercial dishwashing system. With lots of questions, she turned to the American Rental Association’s (ARA) Event Rental Facebook page for answers. She is so glad she did.

“My business specializes in dishes, glassware and flatware, as well as small vintage décor like vases and cake stands. Our stuff is all unique. For instance, we have gold china from the 1940s, but it is all mismatched. We also have a blue-and-white collection called Transferware, which is made in England. We try to make each collection exclusive and very unique. We do not have tables, chairs, etc. Ours is a very niche business that caters to caterers and consumers,” she says.

Since 2016, Mathews has been operating out of her home. “We have been using the three-sink method — soapy water, rinse and sanitize. We also hand-wash the racks. We use the green microwire racks for the dishes and the Cambro cup glass racks. This past year we hand-washed 32,000-plus dishware and 30,000-plus glassware. We were in need of more space and had just found a 6,200-sq.-ft. warehouse to move into, offering us a 20-ft.-by-20-ft. space for our dishwashing system. That is why I did the post on the ARA Event Rental Facebook page asking for dish room advice,” she says.

What a find: The team at Dish & Decor Vintage Rental survey dishwashing equipment found at auctions.

The advice started pouring in. “I learned that I don’t need to buy a $9,000 commercial water heater. I could pick up a used one as well as used stainless-steel sinks and tables at an auction,” she says.

That advice paid off. She scoured auction ads and found the 15-ft. tables and the water heater. “I received a water heater from a rental operator in Green Bay, Wis., and the tables from a rental operation in Illinois. I knew I could find all of this at auction. It just took time,” she says.

For her dishwashing system, including a new water softener, she teamed up with EcoLab. “I learned about EcoLab from the Facebook group, too. If I rent the dishwasher from EcoLab, they will service the machine. For now, we will rent the machine. I will learn how to run it and eventually will buy our own. The machine is a high-temp ventless dishwasher. It has a booster heater built in the machine,” she says.

As of press time, she was in the process of moving to her rented warehouse and waiting for the plumber to come in and hook everything up. She is finally on her way to realizing her dream and establishing a commercial dishwashing system for her operation.

According to Mathews, it wouldn’t have happened without the help of her rental peers on the ARA Event Rental Facebook page.

“The Facebook page has been very helpful. I am very excited and over the moon as we are ready to go. We are continuing to grow our business,” she says.