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Engineered tent buying points

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When should tent rental companies introduce engineered tents into their inventory? And when they do, what should they look for? Here are some expert opinions:

Dennis Birdsall, TentLogix

When: Do it right away. Look at what events you are doing and what your customers are demanding. We’ve found the market to be only more demanding.

What to look for: Find a company that is going to be around 10 to 20 years from now and will innovate from the same core product you are buying, as opposed to discontinuing a line.

Spencer Etzel, The SEC Group

When: If you buy any new tents at all, they ought to be engineered. As soon as you get to 40 feet wide, you should be buying engineered tents. If local code officials six months from now decide smaller tents need to be engineered, a nonengineered tent is no longer any good to you.

What to look for: Get documentation from the manufacturer and keep it on hand so you know you have the resources to go back to them and get any updates or changes you need to provide to code officials. Engineering doesn’t come afterward. You can’t just buy a tent and then engineer it. Codes get reviewed and updated every three years and get adopted by local authorities anywhere from one to three years after that, so there’s always this roll of cycles. One city could be on 2003 codes and the city next door on 2006 and a very aggressive city on 2009. The engineering system you are buying should be up to date.

Janice Grieshop, Celina Tent Inc.

When: I would wait until the demand was there. I wouldn’t buy an engineered tent and try to rent it. I would want to know I could rent it before I would make the investment.

What to look for: A reputable company and ease of setup.

Jeff McInnes, HTS-USA/Höcker Structures

When: The key thing will be looking at what their primary market is. If they are earning their dollars on weddings on private property, a certain inventory suits that. However, if someone is looking at doing multiple-year contracts for festivals, sporting events, hospitality—those are all instances where you are going to want an engineered structure.

What to look for: Make sure it comes from a quality source. Durability is very important. The grade of the raw materials is extremely important.

Hal Lapping, Economy Tent Intl.

What to look for: We manufacture engineered frame tents and the ease of installation always becomes a major issue. Consider the ease of installation.

Wayne Rendely, P.E.

What to look for: The quality and wind load rating of the product and the ability to get an original professional engineer’s seal.

Janice Kleinschmidt is a freelance writer based in Palm Springs, Calif.

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