The Boyle family turned a small seasonal business into a booming Florida tent and event rental company.
by Jake Kilju
Peanuts’ Charlie Brown looked at a limp pine branch and saw the potential for a beautiful Christmas tree.
Tim Boyle, along with his father and brother, looked at a small Christmas tree tent and festival rental company and, like Charlie Brown, saw the potential for much, much more.
The Boyles purchased that niche rental business in 2001 and have expanded it into a regional tent and event rental powerhouse: U.S. Tent Rental Inc. of Sarasota, Fla. Today, the company specializes in high-end weddings, fund-raisers and corporate events.
“For the first 15 years, we poured every dollar back into the company so we could expand our inventory and offerings,” Tim Boyle says. “We listened carefully to what our clients were asking for and made sound decisions about what we would carry and offer for services.”
The business operates a 76,000-square-foot warehouse and a fleet of trucks from its multiple-acre headquarters. “We are continuing to purchase and add high-end engineered structures on a regular basis, and we carry well over 20,000 chairs, 2,500 tables and hundreds of tents,” he adds.
Retaining rock stars
Boyle takes an employee-first approach to business. By retaining talented employees and giving them opportunities to grow within the company, U.S. Tent Rental ensures that customers experience quality and consistent service.
“We do everything in our power to not use day labor on any of our events,” Boyle says. “We want to know who we are putting on people’s property, [because] many times the clients never meet the salesperson. We want our crews to represent in a professional manner on every job. By utilizing only U.S. Tent Rental employees, we are able to control that aspect.”
A stable employee roster also helps the company to quickly take on more work when things get busy.
“If you can’t gear up to do two or three times your average amount of weekly work when the demand is there, you will never be a large, successful event rental company,” Boyle says. “The business is extremely lumpy, and you need to have rock stars running your crew allocation and dispatch. Finding ways to take on work when your schedule is full is definitely a major key to being successful.”
U.S. Tent Rental offers a 401(k) with an employer match and pays for the bulk of its employees’ health insurance. Other benefits include a cell phone allowance, quarterly profit sharing and $1,000 annually toward each employee’s health savings account (HSA) to help offset health care deductibles.
“Great employees are hard to come by,” Boyle says. “We want to attract them and we want to retain them.”
The company’s strategy has worked. Its revenue has grown from $200,000 annually into the millions. Reflecting on how the business has expanded and the milestones it has reached, Boyle likes to point out one of his favorite facts about the company: “It blows my mind when I think we have done tents and/or events for Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Donald Trump,” he says. “To look back where we started and think we have done tents for four presidents is pretty cool.”
By Jake Kulju, a freelance writer based in Shafer, Minn.
U.S. Tent Rental Inc.
Year founded: 2001
Employs: 48 full-time and 110 seasonal employees
Primary business: Tent and event rentals for weddings, sporting events, festivals, corporate events and fund-raisers