When a private yacht club approached Stamford Tent & Event Services, Stamford, Conn., U.S.A., to install a tent for an exclusive fundraiser, president Steve Frost and his team initially said no. The club wanted Stamford Tent to do the impossible: to fit an 80-by-70-foot tent into what was essentially an 80-by-50-foot space. The event was set for July and the club appealed repeatedly to the tent company throughout the month of April to agree to the job.
The club told Stamford Tent that the 80-by-50-foot tent that another tent company said it could install was simply not large enough. But Frost couldn’t imagine going any wider than 60 feet, because there was nowhere to stake the tent.
Finally, during a visit to the site, Frost had an idea. “I was looking at a yacht, the mast, the outrigger,” Frost says, when suddenly he thought of cantilevering the tent. Frost says he didn’t know if it would even be possible, and if it were possible, he’d have to hire an engineer for the project.
“We called in some consulting engineers,” Frost explains. “They got pretty excited about it and came back with some steps on how to make this cantilever work.”
As the project discussions got underway, Frost learned that although the event was on a Saturday, his team wouldn’t have access to the club until after midnight on Friday. And the club informed him there would be no staking, either.
Bemused, Frost thought to himself, “you want me to fly a tent over a seawall, not staking into the ground, and you don’t want me to start until after midnight the Friday before?”
The discussions continued. “To be honest,” Frost says, “that’s the kind of challenge I love—when they don’t handcuff you with budget, when the client has a vision, when they want to do something exciting and different.”
After a “tremendous number” of meetings, Frost and his team managed to work out all the details. The club agreed to let Stamford Tent come to the site on the prior three Mondays to do prep work, on the condition that the club would be back in order by Tuesday morning.
The prep work began. Workers poured concrete footings to anchor the tent below ground, and then placed sod over the spot so it would look good as new by the next morning. They welded eyelets to the roof trusses and put everything back together again, so that the next day you couldn’t tell the workers had been there. While the crew was working on Mondays, Frost and his team were on site meeting with engineers, contractors and the project manager.
Aside from all the difficulties of engineering and implementing the cantilevered anchoring, Stamford Tent also had to be on the top of its game in every other way, due to the nature of the event. The fundraiser was privately funded, with one individual underwriting all the costs, and Frost estimates that it could have been around $25,000 per head for the 350 guests. (As for entertainment, Bonnie Raitt opened up for the Allman Brothers Band.) But Stamford Tent pulled it off and has been booked again this July for the annual event.
Attendees at the Tent Expo 2007 voted for their favorite projects in the Tent Rental Division Award of Excellence program, and Stamford Tent won two of the awards for this project. The company took home the people’s choice award and the commercial tent rental award.