From tenting to film support to storage solutions—the Absolute Group stretches the limits in south central Ontario, Canada.
The Absolute Group of companies, of which Absolute Tent & Event Services is a part, began as a company serving the on-location rental requirements of the local film, TV and commercial production industry—primarily because Paul Kenyon, managing director, was a location manager before establishing the company.
When the 2003 SARS epidemic broke out in Toronto, the company’s foreign film customers evaporated. “We had always had it in our business plan to diversify into events because our inventory lent itself to that market,” Kenyon says. “But the SARS outbreak dramatically hastened our timeline.” The company purchased the assets of two event rental companies and launched Absolute Tent & Event Services in 2004. Today, the tent division makes up about 40 percent of the company’s revenue, with the remainder divided between the Absolute Location Support film unit, Absolute Self Storage Solutions and It’s My Potty VIP portable restrooms.
The company specializes in large-scale public events such as street festivals, marathons, concerts and corporate events. One in-process project is a custom tent solution for one of Toronto’s new Five Star hotel properties. The tent will be a semi-permanent intall on the third floor terrace of the Shangri-La Hotel. It will be used by hotel guests, banquet guests and patrons of one of Toronto’s top restaurants, Momofuko. “This project has been a challenge because as a supplier on a mega project such as this, you are not entirely in control of your own demise,” Kenyon says. “You must rely on a flurry of trades and contractors so that your custom tent doesn’t become a kite over the top of a busy downtown street or damage the imported granite wall measuring 50+ stories high.”
The Absolute team continues to embrace new tenting concepts, such as stretch (free-form) tenting. The modern-day nomad-style structures have been used abroad for more than a decade and are just starting to gain momentum in North America. “Absolute has recently begun stocking these types of tents and they have been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from adventurous event planners and customers willing to think outside the box and take a chance,” Kenyon says.
To meet the variety of clients’ needs and requests and to continue to stretch the limits of possibilities, Kenyon relies on a top-notch staff—numbering 95 in peak season and 35 during off season. “We are constantly being challenged by more complicated installs, heavier regulation, smaller budgets and shrinking timelines,” Kenyon says. “I am frequently amazed at the logistical eggs my staff is consistently able to unscramble.”
And when it’s not innovating for paying clients, the company is giving back to the community. In 2012 it supported the work of 126 charitable causes and expects to expand that number in 2013.