Saturday, January 30, 2010

Production Excellence

“If you build it, they will come.” 

Some of you may remember that line from the movie, Field of Dreams.  We at Stamford Tent & Event Services build some of the most complex and well built structures, floors and stages you will ever find, complete with HVAC, lighting and more.  Our customers, who we appreciate so very much, continue to come to us and value our quality work.  Just as with many companies in most industries the credit often goes to the ‘customer-facing’ employees and that holds true for us.  Our Rental Consultants along with President and owner Steve Frost and our installers on-site, always receive the credit first hand from our clients.  With this blog entry, I would like to introduce you to some of the people who work diligently behind the scenes every single day, producing excellence for our customers, but simply due to their roles aren’t always recognized for such success.  I’m referring to our Production Management Team.

From top right to left:

Brian Rieke, Director of Operations
Brian is the conductor of this finely tuned orchestra.  For 12 years, he has been a tireless worker committed to the success of our company.  Starting in Sales and working his way through Production to his current senior management role, Brian drives the entire operations process from each project’s conceptual stage with our Rental Consultants, to pricing, planning, installation, removal and every step in between including equipment, warehouse operations, budgeting and more.  His knowledge of this industry and all things involved in constructing safe, effective structures is truly uncanny.  His work ethic, dedication and success have led to owners Steve and Tim Frost welcoming him as a minority stakeholder.   I’m proud to work with the “Rainman” everyday, a moniker I have chosen because of his ability to solve mathematical calculations in his head, that I stumble with while using a calculator.

Clive Kelly, Senior Production Manager
Clive has been with Stamford Tent & Event Services for 20 years.  Ask him about a project 18 years ago and he’ll tell you how high the grass was on the northeast side of the property in front of the stonewall which extended for 17 feet ending at the enclosure for the reflecting pool, then go on to tell you every other detail about the job if need be.  Amazing.  Clive has taken the ball from Brian and runs with it like a Pro-Bowl running back, coordinating the Production Department.  From hiring, training, scheduling and supervising our installers, effectively scheduling all crews that leave our building, to overseeing every project from initiation to removal, Clive takes an immense amount of pride in his work and it clearly shows every day.

Todd Osgood, Production Assistant
Todd has been with Stamford Tent & Event Services for 8 years and excels in several roles.  Todd interfaces with our Rental Consultants to ensure that all files are accurate and complete.  With that information at hand, he maintains the crew schedule to ensure that all necessary equipment is available and structures this effort to ensure the availability at each job, making certain this is communicated to Rental Consultants and the rest of the Production Team.  His display of outstanding organizational skills helps keep the department running like a well-oiled machine.

Tim Frost, Vice President & Co-Owner
With 34 years experience at Stamford Tent & Event Services, Tim is a second-generation owner of the company and has performed just about every role possible.  As a current member of the senior management team Tim is tasked with facilities management, quality control, safety and loss control, truck fleet management as well as the sales of new and used equipment.  One of the finer people you’ll ever come across, Tim is committed to the success of every department and it shows with his attention to detail along with every interaction he has with fellow employees.   On the rare occasion that Tim isn’t working, chances are that you’ll find him on any number of hiking or mountain bike trails or camping under the stars.  An outdoorsman indeed!

Traci Cavaliero, Permit Expediter/Production Assistant
Traci has been with Stamford Tent & Event Services for 10 years.  She ensures that all of our projects have the appropriate permits, expediting payment based on each individual circumstance.  It is at times a thankless job when interfacing with building inspectors and fire marshals across the northeast.  This role is of utmost importance, ensuring the safety of our clients and their guests, making certain all bases are covered in order to avoid instances where structures do not meet code determined by each town’s ordinance.   In addition, Traci wears several other hats within the Production Dept, an integral part of the team that makes everybody else look good by ensuring our events come off without a hitch. 

Danny Davis, Warehouse Manager
Danny has been with Stamford Tent & Event Services for 16 years and is in part responsible for our vast warehouse.   He makes certain the trucks are loaded with the proper equipment in the most efficient manner for the crew and on the opposite side of the job, for its safe return and placement back at our facility.  Danny is tasked with purchasing equipment, repairing/replacing damaged equipment and organizing the inventory.   He also motivates the crew each morning, ensuring quality at the job sites and lending a hand if necessary.  Last week the battery in one of our trucks died and we needed to move it from one of the warehouse bays. So Danny picked the truck up, put it on his shoulder and carried it to the other side of the lot.  Ok, that’s not entirely true…but don’t challenge him to do so, because I wouldn’t put it past him.

Tom Smith, Production Manager – Fabric
Tom (Moose) has been with Stamford Tent & Event Services for 15 years.  He started as the Linen Manager and took over the entire Fabric Department in 2005.  Tom is responsible for all of our tent fabric including tops, walls, liners, gutters, weight covers and all other miscellaneous fabric products.  He is the man who makes sure our fabric is clean and of the highest quality when it arrives at our jobs because our customers expect such…and Tom makes sure we deliver.  If we need a custom gutter created or a sidewall made to spec, Tom’s our man.  

Edgard St. Louis, Warehouse Manager
Edgard has been with Stamford Tent & Event Services for 7 years.  He works in tandem with Danny Davis, ensuring the flawless operation of our warehouse and crew.  His responsibility ranges from employee time management, making certain the loading and unloading of trucks are done in an accurate and time efficient manner, to inventory, site visits and equipment management.  Edgard is an extremely valuable member of our team and is largely responsible for the excellence we strive for on a daily basis.

So there you have it, our Production Management team.  Aside from the amazing experience and longevity of this entire group, the quality and pride they all take in their work is remarkable and largely the reason that Stamford Tent & Event Services has been known as the most detail oriented, highest quality, most professional tenting company in the industry.  When failure is never an option and anything less than excellence is not acceptable, it’s only a team like this that helps make it all possible.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Weddings That Have Gone To The Dogs

As a dog lover, I wanted to pass along this brief article about including your beloved canine on your wedding day.

"When wedding guests rise upon hearing the “Bridal Chorus” from Wagner’s Lohengrin opera, they don’t usually expect to see a canine trotting down the aisle."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

iPhone App for Event Planners

Being a proponent of the iPhone and some of its apps, I thought I'd pass this along.  Nice idea, especially since the app would be accessible to Blackberrys and just about any smartphone, according to MacroView Labs. 

New app allows event managers and organizations to entertain and inform guests instantly through their cell phones -- either before, during, or after the event.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Choosing a Tent Rental Company For Your Event

Event rentals is a multi-billion dollar industry and you will certainly have several companies from which to choose from when planning your event. So how do you make the right decision? In our current economy we all need to save money, so should we base our decision mainly on price? Longevity in the market? Small company or large?

Let’s break it down.

Depending upon the type of event, some companies will eliminate themselves based on their inability to deliver. That may be due to lack of inventory, lack of resources (crew) available on the day of your event, scope of work/level of difficulty or simple negligence with a lack of timely follow up during the proposal process. This doesn’t mean they aren’t quality vendors (with possible exception of the latter)…just that they have limitations. So those aside, there will still be quite a few companies to choose from.

Longevity – this is certainly important, as it would be with any major purchase. Depending upon the type of event, you may not want to opt for a company who has been in business for just a few years. For instance, while planning your wedding, one of the most important days of your life, it’s probably not a good idea to bargain shop and choose Joe’s Tents, Est. 2006. Give the new guy a shot when you’re renting a pole tent for a small get together and your 20 guests need shelter from the elements.

Experience – to some extent this could go hand in hand with Longevity, however not all companies are created equal, even when considering those who have been in business for many years. That company could still be a 5-man operation that tends to specialize in smaller events that are relatively straightforward. Therefore, ask about events they’ve supplied in the recent past. Ask for photos of those jobs. Ask for references. You’ll also want to consider the space you’ll be using and the difficulty it may present. The property may have a dramatic slope or grade to the land and a floor needs to be built up to over 10 feet off the ground or more at some spots. Make absolutely certain that your choice has vast experience in such work.

Another note about experience, ask about the crew. The last thing you want at your home or event venue are construction folks who have been tasked with installing, servicing and removing your tent and additional equipment. They should be experienced tenting professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask about the crew and how long they have been with that particular company.

Quality Equipment – Tents do not last forever, so ask how often they buy new equipment and how they go about allocating tents to certain events. You may also want a particular type of tent to produce a certain ‘look’ and not every vendor will own a large inventory nor offer a variety of choices.

Owner or Salesperson – I hear from time to time that people demand to deal with the owner as opposed to a salesperson. This is certainly understood however when taking everything into consideration, be sure to consider the totality of each vendor. For instance, if you find a vendor who is highly recommended, has 50 years of experience, very successful with many types of events and a professional organization…you may not be able to deal directly with the owner. That’s simply a product of that company’s success. However do understand that in most, if not all cases the owner is heavily involved with all events that the company produces. Don’t be afraid to inquire about that. You’d be hard pressed to find the owner of a tent rental company sitting back in his penthouse office with his feet up on the desk and a cigar in mouth as he dictates orders to his stock broker.

Price – Ah yes, price. If you have used event tents before or if you’ve priced an event, you’re aware of the general cost, especially if/when you require flooring, heat or A/C, or other custom looks you would like to have. The one piece of advice I can give is to make sure you’re comparing apples-to-apples when considering more than one proposal. There is more than one way to go about tenting and to just compare price without making sure you’re comparing the same equipment and service is doing yourself (or your company) a huge disservice. Make sure that somebody goes over the proposal with you line by line and that you fully understand everything that is involved. The vendor that doesn’t take the time to explain everything to you is probably a great candidate to be tossed aside. If you are shopping for several proposals, black out the pricing on the best proposal you have and fax it to another vendor, asking for an apples-to-apples comparison. Very often this is the easiest way to compare. Be sure to double check each item on the competitive proposal to be absolutely sure of the comparison.

However, also keep in mind that you pay for experience, professionalism and piece of mind when you’re dealing with a reputable tent vendor. If nothing mentioned above is important to you, then roll the dice and select the lowest price. There’s nothing wrong with that for some events. However when quality and excellence is an important factor, understand that not unlike many other types of purchases, you will pay more for the best. It’s all about value. Often times the low cost provider is such for a reason.

I hope this helps when trying to decide on a tenting company for your event. At the end of the day a recommendation goes a long way, but short of that…take care in choosing the right vendor because you and your guests deserve it.