Former rental operators find success as suppliers
Event Equipment Sales, Hodgkins, Ill., opened in 1993 and is managed by Roberta DeCillo; Douglas Crowe, CERP; and Ben Shipper IV, CERP, industry veterans who have brought their years of experience in party rental to the supplier side.
Over the years, the company has expanded its flooring options, started producing its own tables and extended its global reach, providing products from its own warehouse and around the world that can withstand the rigors of rental while helping companies become more efficient.
“We started with dance floors and grew from there,” DeCillo says. “Over time, we have built up and maintained our inventory. Our ability to have products in house and ship within a day or two makes us a vendor that can deliver.”
“We make our tables in house from start to finish, using high-quality wood. It takes about 45 minutes to make one table, but the product we produce is solid and durable,” Crowe says. “We offer equipment moving systems that allow businesses to move and store tables while protecting them from scratches and scuffs. We’ve also started bringing in chairs wrapped in plastic rather than packed in boxes. When we ship them to the customer that way, it saves waste, time and labor on their end. As former rental guys, we know that when we can help our customers save in these areas, it makes a big difference.”
As they begin their third decade on the supplier side of the rental industry, those ideas and innovations keep coming.
“We are a 20-year-old company very in tune with the 21st century,” Crowe says. “We know we can’t rely on what we’ve done in the past to keep moving forward. We always reinvent ourselves, forging new ground and modernizing.”
An integral part of finding those new, fresh ideas is creating a culture of forward thinking and a focus on product development that is ahead of the trends, defining them rather than chasing them, he says.
“It isn’t enough to simply keep up with trends. We have to anticipate our customers’ needs six months out, so we can prepare to meet those needs. We’re rental guys, so we know how these things go. It’s more than simply preparing in advance for the indoor season or the outdoor season, though that is important,” Crowe says. “People expect experience and variety out of rental companies. When a customer wants a certain look for an event, the rental company needs to make it happen and we need to be ready to provide what is necessary for that.”
To that end, the company spends a significant amount of time on research and development, talking with rental owners and staying in touch with current and former clients to see what direction things are headed. Historic data and retail trends also help provide ideas about what will be happening in the party and event rental industry down the road.
“It’s all about anticipating our clients’ needs. This is what has allowed us to grow and gain customers over the years. Addressing those needs includes providing quality products,” Crowe says. “At Event Equipment Sales, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our products, making them better and adding what the industry requires.”
To help ensure that they are offering the best inventory and solutions possible, Shipper’s focus is on the international market and what is happening with product development and material handling around the world.
“We have a lot of experience and knowledge on our team at Event Equipment Sales, but we can always learn more. The United States doesn’t have the good idea market cornered,” Shipper says. “We understand that we live in a big world that is getting smaller and we can learn a lot from other places. They are devoted to product development in the U.K., and Europe, as a whole, is ahead of us in material handling, which is a key to reducing labor costs. We can and do bring those ideas here to stay ahead of the curve.”
The products and innovations Event Equipment and Sales provides all come down to a single concept that always has been paramount in the company.
“Good customer service is the strongest point,” DeCillo says. “When the economy was struggling, our reputation for customer service got us through. We worked with our customers and had product on hand, so when they needed it, we were ready for them. If a company can’t provide what customers need or relate to them, that company won’t succeed. We have focused on that in everything we do. If we can’t do something or provide a product, we’ll find out how to get it taken care of.”