All Occasions Event Rental of Cincinnati, Ohio, has offered clearspans for 11 years, purchasing the first one in 2006, says Tommy Wilson, director of event services. The company started with smaller structures, in widths of 20, 30, 40, and 50 feet, and currently stocks about 50,000 square feet of clearspan.
“We added them to our inventory because we saw an increase in market demand along with an increased demand for tenting secured with ballast,” Wilson says. “Adding them would allow us to pursue larger events requiring ballast.”
Several other characteristics appealed to the company. The walls form a better seal compared to conventional sidewalls, Wilson says. Their modular design was another factor. “In any given beam profile you can make several different widths out of the same parts,” he says.
Clearspans offer unobstructed interior space and afford “substantial” decor advantages, thanks to load ratings that support the hanging of chandeliers and other lighting as well as heavy fabric decor, he says. And the keder tracks running along the length of each beam provide nearly limitless hang points. Consequently, clearspans lend themselves well to customization—a strong selling point in today’s market.
Still, clearspans come with some significant considerations, such as weight and bulk compared to other kinds of tenting. Installing and removing them is more labor intensive, generally requiring larger crews, Wilson adds.
“Plus, they’re designed for installation on flat ground and the layout is critical,” he says. “If you make a mistake on the layout, it will become a bigger problem later on. Still, once you’re familiar with the product you’ll understand where you can adjust the structure to best fit the site.”
Having clearspans in inventory has allowed the company to go after projects such as large weddings and corporate events that would be impossible to pursue with other types of tents. Clearspans have also enabled All Occasions to attract clients needing climate control, because these structures are more efficient to cool and heat compared to other tent types.
Demand has steadily increased every year, Wilson says, adding that the company is working to take on more long-term projects and trying to do more with customized structures. “We’ve also purchased more chandeliers each year to go along with our clearspan structures,” he says. “With the immense open space they offer, they give event designers total freedom to create a unique look and feel for each event.”
Wilson advises tent rental companies that are thinking about adding clearspan structures to their inventory to consider what sizes their markets will support and the qualifications of a company’s installation crew. If installers will need to be trained, who will provide it? Also, he recommends opting for a manufacturer that offers strong support and ample stock in a convenient location so that last minute requests can be accommodated.
“When choosing a clearspan manufacturer, we use the same mantra that we use for the rest of our inventory,” Wilson says. “Buy it nice or buy it twice.”