From tool rental business to growing tented event rental company, One Stop Tents & Events grew up around the family dinner table.
For Karen Keesler, co-owner of One Stop Tents & Events in Webster, Texas, learning the ins and outs of running a rental business were conferred to her each night at the dinner table. Started by her father Ron Ammons in 1968, the company initially rented tools and equipment, and Keesler heard her father talk about the business’s challenges and rewards as the family shared evening meals.
The company became One Stop Party Shop in the early 1980s, and Keesler purchased the business in 1994. Since then Keesler built a showroom, which she later remodeled, a stand-alone warehouse, which she later expanded, added an upstairs consisting of corporate offices and rebranded the company as One Stop Tents & Events.
Located between Houston and Galveston, the company rents tents for backyard parties, festivals, corporate events and weddings during hot humid summers and mild cool winters. “There are often challenges with putting up tents in our area but the number one challenge is weather,” Keesler says. “We do a lot of tents close to the water, and wind can be a factor. The heat in summer also makes installations challenging and time consuming. Lots of breaks and water are needed to get a tent erected.”
While the number of weddings the company is erecting tents for is on the rise, and corporate work and festivals is strong, Keesler especially values the work garnered from petrochemical plants in the area. “It’s a pain to get the tents up because of all the safety requirements, but they are usually up for between three to six months—and sometimes
for a year or more.”
Land, air and sea
Each year One Stop Tents & Events provides tents for the CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow at Ellington Airport in Houston. “This is one of our most challenging events because it is very large and we would love to have a week or more to put it up but get less than three full days—and have to start takedown at 4 p.m. and have everything gone by morning,” Keesler says. “It’s always worrisome because the show is in October and weather could be disastrous. But in over 25 years we have never missed a show—knock on wood.”
Despite the challenges, Keesler says the event is one of her favorites. The first year it won the contract in 1996, the company did not have all the equipment to do it but took it on nonetheless. “I felt it was instrumental for our growth,” Keesler says. “Every year we would buy more equipment and even as the event grew, we’ve now been able to provide equipment easily with only our own inventory.”
One Stop Tents & Events also provides tenting each year for Keels & Wheels, Councours D’Elegance in Seabrook, Texas. The classic car and vintage wooden boat show not only showcases vintage vessels and autos but also benefits Today’s Harbor for Children, an organization that empowers children who have faced abuse, neglect and hardships. “The event started out very small and [the client’s] tents were awful,” Keesler says. “I told him if he let us do it we could take the event to another level. He agreed and now the event is a huge success and very classy.”
Keesler says the tent and event market is very strong in Texas—and for that she’s grateful. “It seems like we are always buying more,” she says. “But that is a good thing.”