New facility triples the space for A to Z Party Rental
Just about everyone who owns or operates a party and special event rental store at some point wishes they could have more space, whether it is in the warehouse, showroom or on an event site.
For A to Z Party Rental, Montgomeryville, Pa., that dream recently became a reality. Melani Kodikian, A to Z’s president, says the choice came down to growing the business or falling behind. As a result, the business moved to a location more than three times the size of its original facility, a decision she says has been worth every headache.
“A to Z Party Rental started in 1968 in Flourtown, Pa., and moved to Spring House, Pa., in 1980. We purchased it in 2001 and consolidated our party rentals formerly at Rental World in Lansdale, Pa., to this location, excluding tents. When we left Spring House, we occupied about 8,000 sq. ft. Our new location in Montgomeryville is 28,000 sq. ft., including a 2,400-sq.-ft. showroom, a 2,800-sq.-ft. kitchen and a 600-sq.-ft. office area,” Kodikian says.
After 10 years in the previous location, expansion became a necessity not only for customers, but for employees. “Equipment was spread between three units located in a series of storage units, including a basement and warehouse area. A single rental ticket could require a stop at all three areas,” Kodikian says.
“In addition, we did not have any loading docks for our delivery staff. There was limited space available to us resulting in creative storage techniques and little opportunity to increase our quantity and variety of equipment. In total, our space prevented our growth as a company and required more effort and time for our staff members to accomplish their tasks,” she says.
The company initially found and then bought an existing warehouse three miles away, located on a heavily traveled road and surrounded by other industrial businesses. The new building, however, was poorly maintained, she said, and included its own considerable challenges, including a well-worn down concrete floor, occupancy code issues and the general renovation needed to create areas for laundry, storage and other elements.
“The concrete floor inside the warehouse was in terrible shape,” Kodikian says. “Everywhere you looked there were chunks broken away and aggregate exposed. It was a future nightmare for carts and forklift trucks. Our staff spent two days degreasing and pressure washing the floor, and then the general contractor patched and ground the concrete floor. We now have a smooth surface and no risk of tipping carts of equipment.”
The next step was to buy storage racks and a forklift, something the previous location was too small to accommodate. “We also built a separate 35-ft.-by-80-ft. room for the washing and storage of food service items in order to prevent the spreading of dirt and dust from the warehouse and we added a second dishwasher,” she says.
Despite the challenges, contractors met the compressed timeline to complete the project in early April, just in time for the rental store to move in before the major busy season kicked in.
“We settled with our bank two months later than planned. As a result, our construction timeline took us into the heart of the spring season. Thankfully, we had a fantastic general contractor who understood the time crunch we were under. Adjustments to the renovation and smart scheduling by our contractor moved the completion date up to early April. We spent just over three months renovating the building,” Kodikian says.
However, the challenges did not end there. “We did not receive our occupancy permit until April 27 and then due to issues with our new phone system, we were not able to operate until May 2,” Kodikian says. “It became a mad dash to move the equipment and settle in. We are still working out many kinks, one of which was problems transferring our phone numbers to our new location. Thanks to an operator screw-up and red tape, we had to open without our phone number. Instead we have a lovely recording asking customers to hang up and dial a different number to reach us. We also have the temporary number posted on our website and on our email taglines to assist customers.”
In hindsight, Kodikian says she would have devoted more time to developing a strategy for physically moving the inventory before the day arrived. “In addition, I would have submitted our plans to the township earlier to receive our permits. We lost a month after closing before we could start construction,” she says.
One of the main benefits of the new location, she says, is having everything under one roof. “Our entire tent staff and inventory have been located at our Rental World location about 20 minutes from us. It has been a logistical headache. We never had the space to include them at our former location in Spring House. We are now able to have our full staff and inventory at one location, in one building and on one floor,” she says.
Another benefit is the new showroom. “Now we can provide more comforts for our customers and increase our displays. We still have a large number of clients who want to visit us to plan their events. We are now creating an experience for them,” she says.
“Our future plans include increasing our inventory and adding new items to our inventory so that we can compete for larger events and clients. Currently, we have
15 employees. We anticipate adding to our fleet of trucks and hiring additional staff,” Kodikian says.
She says A to Z’s new location also will have a more green impact. “We have amended our operations in an effort minimize our impact on the environment. We have significantly reduced our paper use, installed energy-efficient lighting, replaced the roof, installed on-demand water heaters, installed energy-efficient windows, and we continue to recycle paper, metal, cans, bottles and bags, to donate all items not suitable for rent and to break down items for parts. We also have discontinued the sale of disposable items like table covers, plates and cups,” she says.
The main goal for the new location is to simplify the rental process, enhance the customer experience and maximize production time not only for customers but
for employees, Kodikian says. “We wasted a tremendous amount of time at our old location simply because of the building’s design. I am hoping to see a huge time savings with loading trucks and accessing equipment, which will then be spent handling more customers’ needs. In addition, the design should lighten the load on our staff, reduce the amount of energy spent and allow us to work smarter, not harder,” she says.
A to Z Party Rental, Montgomeryville, Pa.
Facility: 28,000 sq. ft.
Rental inventory: Audio/visual, beverage service, candelabra, carnival equipment, casino games, chairs, china, choral risers, dance floors, food service, glassware, inflatables, karaoke, lighting, linens, photo booths, portable bleachers, staging, sings, tables, tents and wedding accessories.
History: A to Z Party Rental is part of Rental World, located in Lansdale and Limerick, Pa., which also provides construction, home, and lawn and garden equipment.
Rental World was founded by Hal Kodikian in 1972 as a general tool rental company located in Lansdale. He quickly added party rentals to the business as customers made requests. Over the years, both segments of rental grew tremendously. Kodikian found overlapping the staff between the two areas was not the most efficient, particularly since the customer needs were very different.
A to Z Party Rental was launched in 1968 in Flourtown, Pa., and moved to Spring House, Pa., in 1980. When the owners of A to Z Party Rental approached Kodikian about selling their business, it became an opportunity to split his company and hire staff members to focus strictly on party and special event rentals. Soon after purchasing A to Z in 2001, Kodikian transferred the inventory and event planner at Rental World to the Spring House location, which was housed in an 8,000-sq.-ft. facility.
His daughter, Melani, an insurance broker in San Francisco, returned to the area in 2005 and joined the company to carry on the Kodikian legacy. In 2008, she became the owner of A to Z Party Rental with the goal to grow the company and expand on the reputation and integrity her father developed over 36 years in the business. The recent purchase of a new location for A to Z is another step toward that goal.
A to Z recently moved to a 28,000-sq.-ft. building, which the company renovated into a party rental store with a 2,400-sq.-ft. showroom, a 2,800-sq.-ft. kitchen and 600-sq.-ft. office area, with the remainder available for warehouse space, complete with a rack and forklift system.