Whether your company has been in the tent industry for one year or 100,
IFAI Tent Expo 2015 is the place to gain more knowledge and a professional edge.
InTents: What issues face tent rental companies of all sizes?
Mike Holland: Codes and their enforcement. Many states and municipalities are trying to regulate the industry without, in my opinion, proper knowledge. The state of Kentucky was about to go down that road, and TRD got involved and helped them write what I feel are livable, doable guidelines. And another issue is, of course, training good employees. All reasons why tent rental companies should want to come to Expo.
IT: Where do you see opportunities emerging
for the industry?
MH: Larger, more permanent structures are opening the door to do more events. At Chattanooga Tent Co., we got our first clearspan structure in the 1980s, and there were a handful of other companies that got into clearspans before us. Now because of market demand and the need to meet building codes, and due to the structures being better in bad weather, more companies are getting them. So for example, some geographic areas have only had pole tents, and they don’t work well in the winter. Now companies in those areas have clearspan structures and flooring and heating and walls, and all that allows them to do more upscale events and rent that product all year long.
IT: Why is a strong, active international trade association important for tent renters?
MH: As we learn from each other and teach our members and hear their problems, whether they are from Wyoming or Washington state or Maine and everywhere in between, we can further our industry. The knowledge we put together as a trade organization will help us do our business and keep us from being regulated by states or the federal government, if we are proactive. The perfect arm for that is IFAI and TRD.
IT: Amid all of the show and training choices tent renters have, why should they choose Tent Expo?
MH: The wealth of knowledge and the networking opportunities. Anyone attending Expo should be able to talk with any size company about an issue and be able to connect with somebody there who is going to help with that issue. From the companies that have been in business for 100 years to the companies that have been in business for three years, that wealth of knowledge is passed on through the Expo, through the education seminars and through the socializing. Attendees should go to meet and learn from the other people who have been doing it longer, or who might have a different slant on it. Just because they haven’t been doing it for 100 years doesn’t mean they don’t have a better way. If you are a tent renter, this is the place to learn about tents.
IT: Do you have a top tip to share about getting the most out of Tent Expo?
MH: I would make sure that I saw every single vendor, regardless of what they do. Whether it’s a major tent manufacturer or a stake supplier or a material handling supplier, you may think that you don’t need that product at this time or you’re not big enough, but there is going to be some time down the road when you say, “You know, I need that piece of information and I talked to them at Tent Expo 2015 and I’ve got that in my file.” The other thing is to make sure you network. Don’t come to Tent Expo to come to sunny Florida for a vacation. Come to work and network. You are there to learn.