According to Joe Peregman Jr., the labor market in New Jersey is great—if you are a laborer. To compete with other industries, his company, Ocean Tents & Party Rentals of Manahawkin, offers benefits including two-week’s paid vacation and additional bonuses for long hours.
“The problem is finding drivers with spotless records in the state of New Jersey,” he says. “Our turnover rate for seasonal help is high in the beginning of the season. People can’t grasp working 70-plus hours a week until they do it.”
John Hingeley, owner of Skyline Tent Company, Charlottesville, Va., concurs that the demanding schedule of tent installation requires finding employees willing to put in long hours. In addition to a competitive wage and end-of-season benefits, Skyline gives all new hires a sturdy pair of GORE-TEX® hiking boots, hooded sweatshirts, quality rainsuits and hats.
“We really believe that the increase in productivity and morale that a safe, comfortable uniform offers is well worth the cost,” Hingeley says.
For Ocean Tents, the New Jersey shore location means dealing with both staking issues due to sandy soil and weather challenges. “September is a big wedding month, and tropical storms and hurricanes are always an issue,” Peregman says.
Hingeley says that one of the biggest changes for business in Virginia has been an increase in permit bureaucracy and enforcement. “In the last four years many of the local governments have gotten new and much better informed fire and building inspectors, and have been much more aggressive about inspections and collection of permit fees.”
Given the economy, Peregman notes cutbacks in larger event budgets, with clients frequently opting out of tent flooring. However, fabric liners remain as popular as ever, he says. Hingeley notes that “green” options and details are successful selling points, along with lounge-style rental furniture such as leather sofas, coffee tables and farm tables.
“We have noticed an increased demand for detailed site overviews that take into account all aspects of a project, not just the tents but locations of the tables, props, lighting details and all kinds of other non-tent-related items,” Hingeley says.
Both Hingeley and Peregman note an increase in demand for structure-style tents, and Peregman says that clients are becoming more tent saavy, requesting specific kinds of tents.
As for local celebrations and traditions, Peregman says he has come to truly admire the close-knit culture of his Jewish clientele.
“We are busy whenever they celebrate,” he says. “The challenge is a lot of their events occur on weekends, and on Sabbath Saturday they cannot touch electric devices or use phones. We have periodically sent workers to the event sites to make sure they do not need additional equipment or to start any electrical equipment.”