The Comeback Club: Rental Management's 2023 Market Movers in the event rental industry
By Alexis Sheprak, contributing author
June 20, 2023
If there was such a thing as a Comeback Club, the event rental industry would be the figurative president. After the unexpected downturn of the COVID-19 pandemic — complete with event cancellations, quarantines and lockdowns — many companies had to shift their focus and find new ways to do business.
Because of that, 2021 proved to be a year of recovery for the event segment as schedules started filling back up. Many companies hit record numbers; some even surpassing previous records in revenue. But hope was tentative as companies willed the worst to be over.
As 2022 rolled around, that quiet optimism turned more boisterous, as event rental companies expected to see even more growth than the past year. While revenues did indeed prove to be strong, the evolution of event rental is really what stood out.
Technology now plays a larger role since labor shortages mean companies need to be more creative in order to meet demand. Supply chain issues have forced companies to redefine their processes and evaluate their inventory. And rising prices enticed many companies to reconsider their own costs.
In fact, in a survey done by the American Rental Association (ARA), 24 percent of respondents attributed their increase in revenue to increased prices, while 13 percent said they saw an increase in rental volume. The kicker is that 63 percent of survey respondents said that it’s a combination of both, showing that creative solutions, dedicated relationships and business aptitude have become key in the event rental space.
While some companies have survived, many others have thrived. As Delores Crum, CERP, Premiere Events, Austin, Texas, said in an outlook article in the December 2022 issue of Rental Management, “Revenue growth in our industry and among our members gives us cause to celebrate today, and to look forward to tomorrow.”
That resiliency is shown in this year’s Rental Management Market Movers list, which features some of the top event rental companies of all sizes who have adapted to the last few years’ sets of challenges and embraced the new opportunities they’ve provided.
In our category of independent rental companies with annual revenue of less than $3 million, seven of our Market Movers reported rental revenue growth of more than 100 percent. Many attributed that growth to creating a valuable company culture and investing in employees, while others say their success is from pivoting their inventory or business model.
However, the big numbers don’t stop there. In our category of independent rental companies with annual revenue of more than $3 million, eight companies reported event revenue growth of more than 100 percent. Most of those companies share that their revenue growth stems from a zeroed-in focus on customer service and the rental experience as a whole. That often means prioritizing methods like stability, attentiveness and reliability.
This year’s article features an in-depth look at both of these categories: the fastest-growing independent event rental businesses with an annual revenue of less than $3 million and those with rental revenue greater than $3 million. In addition, we’ll spotlight some of our Market Movers and get an inside look into some of their biggest business lessons and practices.
Market Movers with less than $3 million in annual rental revenue
The biggest Market Mover on the list of companies with less than $3 million in annual rental revenue is Ace Party Rental and Indiana Wedding Decorators. Located in Indianapolis, owner Michele Rogers has been in the wedding and events industry for more than 36 years and has seen it change dramatically in that time.
Tackling those changes, the company has experienced an increase of 460 percent in annual revenue, jumping from $500,000 to $2.8 million in just three years. Rogers credits her company’s growth to creating a company environment that’s invested in its employees. But she also says that support from industry memberships and affiliations such as the ARA has also been a bright spot throughout her career.
Another one of the biggest movers on the list is D&D Party Rental, Toronto. Started in 1979, the family-owned-and-operated company had a 325 percent jump in revenue, growing from around $400,000 in revenue to $1.7 million, but that success didn’t come without its challenges.
“For years, it seemed like we were just spinning our wheels. We had just started to see some progress leading up to 2020, then COVID hit and we thought we were going to close forever. In fact, in April 2020, our monthly sales were zero,” says Massimo D’Amato, co-owner of D&D.
“Since then, we’ve pivoted our inventory and services as needed, overhauled our procedures and assembled a new team ready to continue our growth for many years to come,” he says.
Celebrating their ability to adapt and the subsequent growth, president and co-owner Tony D’Amato couldn’t be happier with his team’s recent success. “I am so proud of our team here at D&D for being so resilient during COVID and for them pulling together afterwards to make this resurgence happen,” he says.
Another company that showed tremendous growth after COVID is Party Perfect in Richmond, Va. “We dropped significant income because of COVID, but we’ve made a strong comeback. We’ve had steady growth since then,” says Nelson Parker, owner.
The company’s revenue increased 133 percent, going from $1.2 million to $2.8 million. Just like D’Amato, Parker attributes much of that success to his team.
“I appreciate all the hard work of my son, daughter and staff, especially coming out of the COVID era,” he says. “All the staff have come together to take Party Perfect to new heights, and we’re all excited to see what the future holds.”
Ann Trostle, president of female-owned and managed A to Z Event Rentals, says her company was able to grow 250 percent in revenue after exploring the needs of the company’s Dillsburg, Pa., local market. That 250 percent growth led Trostle and her team to grow to an annual revenue of just under $1 million.
“Post-COVID, our business has grown exponentially as we dug into the needs of our local market and worked to collaborate with industry pros including planners and caterers,” she says.
Design Mode, a specialty rentals business in Phoenix, is the only honorable mention included in this year’s list. Owner Rheana Coon took the company from no revenue to an annual rental revenue of $1.7 million.
“We started our business during the pandemic and have since grown immensely for such a new endeavor with zero startup funding or capital,” she says. “We now have two warehouses, seven full-time staff members, and are growing more and more every day.”
Market Movers with more than $3 million in annual rental revenue
The revenue growth for the Market Movers with more than $3 million in annual rental revenue includes some tremendous numbers. Even more impressive is how many new companies have made the list, with only two multi-year Market Movers included.
One such company is MS Events, in Charlottesville, Va., who grew 550 percent in the last three years, starting at less than $1 million in revenue and ending 2022 with $5.2 million.
MS Events is the only event rental company left in their town, servicing one of the most desired wedding locations on the East Coast. With recent supply chain shortages, the company was forced to overcome unprecedented issues that ultimately led to their success.
“During the pandemic, the large corporate company that had been the dominant player in our market announced they would be closing their Charlottesville location. All of a sudden, we found ourselves with a tremendous amount of new business and suppliers. However, we were out of products, not to mention buying new trucks was about impossible,” says MS Events president Stephen Sudduth.
“We were buying as much as we could and getting on the waitlist for what we couldn’t to try and keep up with our new demand,” he says. “We searched for used equipment, and I worked with my local dealer to move us up the list for the next truck that comes off the assembly line. Our strong relationships with our clients and our vendors came into play. Our vendors wanted to help us out, and our clients provided us with the flexibility needed to make it all
That focus on relationships is something Sudduth takes to heart. “The best piece of business advice I’ve ever received is that relationships matter in all forms. Whether it’s clients, vendors, coworkers or employees; these are your most important assets.”
Another top company on the list is Colorado Party Rentals, led by CEO Nathan Pearse. The Denver company grew a monumental 452 percent in revenue, going from $2.3 million in annual revenue to $12.7 million.
“Our aggressive growth strategy has led to deep market penetration in our current markets and opened up new markets through unconventional business models for secondary and highly seasonal opportunities,” says Pearse.
Exploring new markets is no stranger to Heather Rouffe, managing partner and director of sales, at Atlas Event Rental in Boynton Beach, Fla. The company works with clients across the social, corporate, non-profit and private event sectors.
Focusing on quality customer service, Atlas saw a revenue increase of 50 percent, going from $10 million to $15 million in annual rental revenue.
“We work hard 24/7 to provide top level products and service for each and every client while prioritizing relationships within our industry and community. Making this list inspires us to strive even higher and look for even more ways to evolve and grow in the market,” says Rouffe.
Alexander Party Rentals, Kent, Wash., grew 66 percent in the last three years. “It’s been amazing to see how resilient our industry has been post-COVID — not just recovering, but thriving and pushing to new heights. We’re honored to be a part of such a great industry,” says Scott Alexander, owner.