by Cathy Broberg
In 1973, Pat and Roger Parr purchased a five-year-old rental company in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. Chances are, the couple could not have predicted what that transaction would lead to. More than 40 years later, A V Party Rentals (originally All Valley Rental Center) remains in the family, is led by three of their children, and employs several of their grandchildren as well as other longtime employees. The company, based in Newhall, Calif., has also become rooted in the area and takes pride in serving the community.
What’s it like for three siblings to work together? “We have our good days and our bad days,” says Rusty Parr, president of A V Party Rentals. On a day-to-day basis, he works most closely with his sister Cathy Holm, the company’s chief financial officer. “I read and get ideas and say, ‘We should look at that.’ She’s the one who says, ‘We can’t.’ And I’m the one who says, ‘We need to,’” says Rusty. “We find a balance in there.” Parr’s youngest brother, Ryan Parr, is the chief operations officer.
Under the trio’s leadership, the company works to meets its clients’ full range of event needs. Its rental capabilities include tents and canopies; tables, chairs and lounge furniture; flooring, staging and platforms; lighting, electrical and AV products; linens, table settings and glassware. Services include delivery, setup and takedown, event coordination and planning.
While A V Party Rentals gladly provides services for corporate events, festivals and expos, weddings and backyard family gatherings throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties and beyond, Parr confesses, “We like working with home owners a lot. They seem to be the most fun and the least demanding in most cases.”
Plus, it’s become tradition to work with some families. “We do a lot of orders for Thanksgiving and a lot of orders for Christmas Day that are all family stuff,” he explains. “It’s literally like a reunion every year.”
The company also enjoys work for local events such as the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival (canceled this year). The event features music, a chili cook-off, line dancing and hatchet throwing—and requires lots of tents.
A local home and garden show is another favorite project, that requires creating the layout, providing tent and canopy rentals, and dealing with individual vendors.
Challenges and changes
Since Parr began working in the industry full time in 1981, he’s witnessed growth—particularly in the size of tents. Though the company’s largest tent today is only 60 feet wide, at one time it would have had to subrent those from a larger operation. More independent stores are carrying larger structures today, he reports. He also notes more demanding tenting regulations, which occasionally prompts the company to turn down certain jobs. “If it’s an all-inclusive event, we will jump through the hoops. But if all they want is a tent somewhere outside of our service area, it’s not worth it.”
What’s next for A V Party Rentals is not yet clear. The company was poised for a promising year, but with COVID-19, most events were postponed or canceled. “The biggest challenge is the public’s confidence in getting back together. Until that happens, the event industry is at a standstill.” Still, Parr and his team are choosing to hang onto the promise of a better tomorrow. “We were optimistic. And we still are … we just don’t know when that optimism will pay off.”
Cathy Broberg is a writer and editor who lives near Minneapolis, Minn.
Photos courtesy of A V Party Rentals.
A V Party Rentals
Year founded: 1968
Number of employees: 29–30
Primary business: Tent and party rental supplies and services