By Janice Kleinschmidt
Although Karl’s Event Rental has worked on some of the largest events in North America (the last five Super Bowls; New York, Los Angeles, and Miami fashion weeks; NASCAR; PGA golf tournaments; and private events for Fortune 500 individuals), the Oak Creek, Wisconsin-based company sticks an even bigger feather in its cap with the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In September 2008, the Vancouver Organizing Committee awarded Karl’s a contract to supply 550 tents for the Olympics (Feb. 12-28) and Paralympics (March 12-21). Karl’s immediately began designing, engineering, manufacturing and planning.
“The fantastic news is our inventory when the contract was signed was 1.8 million square feet,” says President John Schlueter. “The bad news, which is also good news, is all of that structure was spoken for.” Karl’s expects to complete the 2.8 million square feet of Olympic tenting.
“We have had times in Karl’s history where we have doubled our structure [inventory], and we find a place for it,” Schlueter says. “We’re proud of the relationships that our people have with industry experts all across North America, and our history reflects that we will actually be short of material in 2010 after the Olympics.”
The largest structure, at 50,000 square feet, is the dining hall. Other tents will be used for everything from ensuring that people arriving at the airport are out of the weather, sheltering timing officials, food service and equipment storage. Features include rigid and tempered-window walls and access ramps and staircases (at mountainside venues, the tent’s front could be 30 feet higher than the back end).
If it takes a village, it’s no wonder Karl’s has worked with timing officials, caterers, power distribution and HVAC personnel, and transportation providers in planning and design. “We get involved in just about every aspect,” Schlueter says. “It’s been a learning experience, discovering some best practices. Also, because two of Karl’s locations — being in Fredrick, Md., and Milwaukee, Wis. — are cold-weather environments, I think we have been able to deliver to them some knowledge as to tenting in winter conditions. I certainly hope and trust that our knowledge has been beneficial to them.”
Aside from hiring additional installers and opening an office in Vancouver (staffed with 25 administrators, planners and installers), Karl’s has taken the manufacturing process in stride. The largest challenge may be the logistics of delivering 550 tents to 29 locations from downtown Vancouver to Whistler mountain venues three hours away. “We are probably at 2,000 line items of tasks that have to be accomplished,” says Rick Anderson, vice president of business development.