Surrounded by mountains, lakes, ski resorts and wineries, the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada, is a beautiful—and challenging—location to be in the tent rental business.
“I am sure our plight is no worse than many others, but we do live in a valley on a lake with rocky and sandy shores and mountaintop houses where the soil is bulletproof,” says Dwayne Ranson of All Occasions Party Rentals Inc. of Kelowna. “Not to mention a very high USPSF (my technical term for underground sprinklers per square foot!) as our climate is very arid.”
In Alberta, tent renters contend with a short season due to extreme winters. “Rentals usually start in April and end in October,” says Averill Torrieri, marketing manager for Special Event Rentals of Edmonton. “Rates are typically a bit higher here than warmer climates due to the fact that our rental season is only six to seven months long.”
Ranson says that his company uses only frame and clearspan tents, engineered and on adjustable legs to deal with irregular ground.
“Tents that can’t stand up in the wind are of no value to us,” Ranson says. “We would prefer to have tents that go up and come down quickly but have chosen to go with tents that are more structurally sound for the added measure of safety and peace of mind they provide.”
Both Ranson and Torrieri note that one positive to the downturned economy is a favorable labor supply.
“Being an oil-producing province, our labor supply can be very volatile; when oil prices are up, quality labor is hard to find,” says Torrieri. “That said, with the recession affecting all of us … more people are looking for work and, as a result, we have been able to reduce the overinflated wages we were forced to pay when oil was high.”
The challenging economy has motivated Special Event Rentals to discern where inefficiencies lie and employ new systems to address them. The company installed a Teeco tent washer in January, which will reduce cleaning labor costs by 50 percent, Torrieri says.
All Occasions Party Rentals also is approaching the recession as an opportunity.
“Now is the time to bargain hard for future space, invest in not-so-used equipment at a fraction of the new cost, train your people and entrench yourselves with your customers and suppliers,” Ranson says. “When the good times come back, we are striving to be in a better position to build our brand and expand our client base.”