Providing tents for the U.S. Presidential Inauguration’s media crews meant working long hours within a tight timeframe for McCarthy Tents & Events.
For Rochester, N.Y.-based McCarthy Tents & Events, the U.S. Presidential Inauguration in January was just another step in the company’s steady growth trajectory over the past 10 years. The company typically provides services for large and small local weddings and events, so when owners Sean and Heather McCarthy were asked to provide media filing tents for the U.S. Presidential Inauguration on the National Mall in Washington D.C., they were taken by surprise—but jumped at the opportunity. “The client had hired an AV company [CMI Communications] from Rochester, N.Y. that they used before for video and sound,” Sean says. “That company reached out to us for the tent portion of the job after a word-of-mouth referral from a mutual local customer.”
Up for the challenge
Inauguration Day represented a broad scope of work for the company, which the couple launched 10 years ago with a van, a couple of tents and some tables and chairs. “We’ve grown steadily over the course of the last 10 years and have recently purchased an almost 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Rochester, N.Y., as well as opened a second store in neighboring Buffalo, N.Y.,” Sean says. “We now have 20 year-round employees, and during the busy season that number grows to around 60-70 employees.”
The company provided media filing tents for all the local and national news networks for the event, with private rooms for the major networks, including CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS. The tents accommodated approximately 1,000 members of the press over the course of the event. McCarthy provided two Losberger 25-by-20-meter tents and one Losberger 10-by-25-meter tent, and Washington, D.C.-based Select Event Group provided one Losberger 15-by-25-meter maxiflex Emporium double decker tent. “There were certain items we weren’t able to get in time, forcing us to source them from other rental companies in the Northeast,” Sean says. “For instance, we had a double decker tent on order but it didn’t arrive in time, so Select Event Group provided that for us.”
Let it snow—and rain
The installation took eight days using the main crew and another week to handle odds and ends and small changes using a couple of on-site crew members. The crew installed leveled Bil-Jax® flooring with red carpet and vinyl hardwood flooring, as well as stairs, custom ramps and computer stations.
The first day of the install was met with three inches of snow, and because of heavy security, the crew was unable to leave trucks on site. Everything needed to be unloaded and then trucks had to be moved and parked 20 minutes away at RFK Stadium. “We used 300,000 pounds of concrete that we picked up from a concrete supplier in three tractor trailer runs,” Sean says. “At the end we sold it all to Select Event Group so we didn’t have to truck it back to Rochester.”
Steady rain for two days during takedown turned the site into “a sloppy, muddy disaster,” he continues. “All of our equipment needed to be laid out and dried from tent tops to structure bolts. The carpeting was so wet that we just put it on craigslist for free and people of D.C. came and took it out in chunks for personal use.”
Phone calls and a little faith
Sean and his crew had less than a month to plan the install—the initial call was Dec. 10, 2016 and install started Jan. 5, 2017. “We would have liked more time for planning, especially for buying things that we didn’t have but needed to pull it all together,” Sean says.
“In the end we made it happen with the time frame we were given after hundreds of hours on the phone,” he continues. “And we didn’t receive a signed contract until the day prior to install which meant we needed to have faith that it would all go through.”