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What makes a tent installation challenging?

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Professionals in the tent rental industry often use “tent on the side of a mountain” as a sort of humerous shorthand for a tough installation. But in reality, a difficult job doesn’t always look hard to an untrained observer. “Sometimes it’s not the physical challenges of the site at all,” points out Rocky Sconda, president of Main Attractions, Edison, N.J. “Just getting the approval of local authorities to do the job can be harder than doing the job. Or once you do get approval, working within their limitations.”

Both long-distance load-ins and having to work around other vendors can contribute to a job’s complexity. “We just did some Black Eyed Peas concerts in the city,” Sconda says. “Any given night, you could only load in equipment at night. And any given night, there could have been 12 to 15 tractor trailers waiting to be unloaded, because there was only one walking path to bring in the equipment. And part of it was building a hospitality tent on a baseball diamond, which we had to take back off [the same night] so they could continue Sunday games there.”

Greg Huyck, general manager, HDO Productions, Rockville, Md., agrees that logistics are often the crux of the issue and can trip up a newer tent installer who doesn’t know what bugbears to watch for when doing a site inspection. “In general, to tackle really difficult jobs, it takes experience,” he says. “It takes having been through some jobs that didn’t go so well for you to then be ingrained to look for those things that are going to make your installation difficult—how low the branches are hanging, where the water supply is, where you have to park your truck. You might have what seems to be a small, flat yard with an easy tent installation, but then you realize, ‘Wait a minute! I have a 200-yard carry, and everything has to go through a three-foot gate.’”

Based in Georgia, Jamie Swedberg is a freelance writer specializing in the specialty fabrics industry since 1997.

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