The trend toward doing more with less as the world economy begins its recovery is a factor in the United Kingdom’s tent and event rental industry. “Big and ostentatious hospitality structures are out, and quality and value are in,” says Anthony Marsh, managing director of L.H. Woodhouse & Co. in Nottingham, U.K. “Businesses have been and are being very careful with their budgets in 2009 and 2010.”
Clearspan structures remain the backbone of the commercial market but variations of traditional pole tents are popular for use in the live concert event arena, Marsh says. He anticipates continued growth in the use of temporary barn stables for equestrian clients.
Weather in the U.K. can vary significantly on any given day, which affects installations. “We live in a small, heavily populated, wet country,” Marsh says. “Getting to our sites almost always involves heavy motorway traffic (and high fuel costs). We invariably encounter rain when erecting and dismantling structures.” The rainy weather results in more time needed for installations and for additional cleaning time after use.
“Relationships with local authorities vary with locations, length of installation, type of installation, and guidance standards for fire and other requirements are well established,” Marsh says. “As MUTA members [MUTA is a U.K.-based trade association for marquee hirers], we follow a well established code of practice and operate a site inspectorate to maintain standards across our skilled and competent member contractors.” (L.H. Woodhouse & Co. is also a member of the Industrial Fabrics Association International, a trade association representing the international specialty fabrics marketplace.)
The structure of L.H. Woodhouse’s work force reflects that of most tent rental companies—the company relies on the leadership and knowledge of its fulltime skilled employees, and fills out the field teams with temporary laborers. “To make up the site teams annually, we hire locally when possible and supplement this with seasonal Polish workers who return annually,” Marsh says. “We work our site teams hard but fairly, and do not have a high turnover.” Incentives for temporary employees include “fair wage for fair work” and an overnight subsistence allowance.