A New York family business evolves into a rental provider for large-scale events.
Hank Parker’s Party & Tent Rentals, Rochester, N.Y., began as tool and equipment rental stores with a limited tent rental inventory available for small parties and weddings. Now, 75 percent of the Berardi family business comes from corporate and sporting events, and its inventory includes several multilevel structures. (The Berardis also own All Season Party & Tent Rentals in Buffalo, N.Y.)
Breaking into a new market
The company’s inroad to the multilevel market was the result of ingenuity and willingness to take a risk. The company was hired to provide tents for an international jazz festival that had a big-name sponsor. The festival wanted tenting that matched the sponsor’s reputation, with a VIP hospitality suite suitable in the middle of the foot traffic. The client also wanted the merchandise tent to be central—with limited space available. “We’d never worked with multilevel structures but we were brainstorming and I kind of jokingly said we should erect a double-decker tent,” Berardi says. “I suggested putting the merchandise underneath and up above the VIPs can have a climate-controlled space surrounded by glass walls so they can have a bird’s-eye view of the event.”
The cost of the tent and its installation cost more than the original budget for the festival, but because it met the client’s needs, the client agreed.
As soon as Hank Parker’s was able, it began purchasing its own multilevel tents. “Our first installation of a multilevel structure took place nearly a decade ago during the inaugural Tavistock Cup golf tournament in Orlando, Fla.,” says Jacob Berardi, president. “That initial experience, coupled with several other installations for both nationally and internationally acclaimed events throughout North America heightened our interest, expertise and passion for building multilevel structures. After developing a client base, we actively began purchasing multilevel structures.”
The tents have become almost standard for many of the company’s clients, which include the NFL, NHL, PGA and NASCAR. (Hank Parker’s recently announced its new partnership with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills for the 2014-15 season.) In 2015, the company is planning to introduce triple-decker tents to its inventory.
What also sets Hank Parker’s apart are the custom accessories it provides. The company makes specialty linens in-house and builds furniture, as well as exclusive lighting displays for its clients. “People are always looking for something different and the only way you’re going to be able to give that to them is by doing something custom,” Berardi says. “Any company can offer standard draping heights, but when the ceiling is 22 feet at one point and slopes down to 19 at another, that’s when our custom abilities provide us an edge.”
The price of being seen
Much of the company’s reputation for innovation and the ability to deliver has been the result of people seeing its capabilities posted online—by them and by their clients. But that Internet presence comes at a cost. “On one hand, I love it that the Internet allows people to see our work, but on the other hand, it allows other companies a window into what your company is doing to stay current,” Berardi says. “It goes both ways. I learn from what companies in other countries are doing and bring it back here so I guess it all evens out.”