Here’s a recipe for success: Take a young person studying business, partner him up with his accountant father who has connections in the industry, stir in an entrepreneurial, never-give-up spirit and you have the makings that brought South Jersey Party Rentals to its current level of success. “It’s your American story,” says Jason Campisi, vice president and general manager of the company, headquartered in Pennsauken, N.J., which serves the New Jersey and Philadelphia metro areas.
And yet, the father-son duo did not make it all on their own. When Campisi talks about the moments of pride he has experienced since 1997 when he and his father, Anthony, bought the full-service rental company, he’s quick to inject that his team is behind their success. Without the team, he says, “it’s just a pile of stuff in a warehouse. The team part is huge.” So are the contributions from other family members, including his wife and mother.
A diverse client base
South Jersey Party Rentals works with a diverse set of clients, including sports and entertainment, university work, weddings and other events for catering companies and individuals. Originally, its rentals entailed roughly 70 percent tenting and 30 percent soft goods. Then about eight years ago, that “flipped on its head.” Yet “the tent division never shrunk,” says Campisi. “The other stuff just exploded.”
When asked about past jobs, Campisi jumps to the most challenging, describing major concerts that involved weeklong installations with “police, fire, secret service, high-profile people, VIP tents, planning over a major city, Homeland Security …” Another high-profile opportunity came when the company was hired for Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to Philadelphia. “All the work that came together to produce something of that magnitude was pretty neat,” he says.
When the pandemic hit two months after the company completed a 10,000-square-foot expansion, Campisi remembers wondering what they were going to do. This was before his “fighting entrepreneurial spirit” kicked back in. “What really reinvigorated me through COVID is knowing that I have people who care about the success of this company,” he says, noting that his father and business partner’s financial planning enabled the company to minimize layoffs.
Since then, the company’s tenting business has doubled, as it responded to the sudden demand by the health care, hospitality and academic markets.
When he realized that tents would need to be set up in challenging environments during the pandemic, Campisi and Brian Richardson of L&A Tent Rentals Inc. invited a state fire official to come in and ensure that his team was properly trained to meet code.
Campisi has likewise responded to the current labor shortage and supply problems with a positive attitude. “We’re being smart about the work we take,” he explains. “We’re just trying to hold the line and not hurt our reputation or upset our clients that we worked so hard to build relationships with.”
Looking back over the past 20-plus years, Campisi sees an industry that has evolved. The importance of safety and training is largely recognized: “I think a lot of people are embracing doing it the right way and those that aren’t, we’re trying to help them get educated through IFAI, Mid-Atlantic Tent Renters Association, all those things.” Product improvements and expanded offerings have led to higher consumer expectations, he says, adding that his team and his peers are rising to meet those expectations with professionalism.
Cathy Broberg is a writer and editor who lives near Minneapolis, Minn.
SIDEBAR: South Jersey Party Rentals
Year founded: 1997
Number of employees: 26 year-round; 25-35 additional seasonal employees
Primary business: Rentals for sports and entertainment, universities, catering/weddings and private events