Event Life: Growing Up
Find out how one event business is positioning itself for the upswingby Jack Weiner | Published in October 2009 economy | Event Life | furniture | management | Departments
Find out how one event business is positioning itself for the upswing
From where I’m sitting, it’s true what they say — everything happens for a reason.
Years ago, I began JBW Entertainment Productions in Pittsburgh. I naturally gravitated to the events industry because I grew up in it — my father and mother were each event businesses owners. In fact, at one time JBW, my mother Sheila Weiner’s company The Event Group, and my father Steve Weiner’s company The Prop Shop all shared the same space.
My parents’ companies were my clients and vice versa, and the blending of our separate disciplines reflected an industry shift — caterers were taking on décor, rental firms were dabbling in planning, and entertainment companies like mine began to take on more event design. This was especially true as events started to incorporate the lounge.
Once a novelty, lounges became an element of design and crowd flow. It affected how entertainment was set up (not just onstage) and even how and what the caterer served (more club plates of appetizers for lounging guests).
Thanks to lounges, guests themselves became part of the event and even the entertainment. JBW was now ordering furniture as part of the entertainment concept.
March 2006 found JBW headquartered in Phoenix, purchasing our first rental pieces. That June we launched a new division, Kool Party Rentals. By May 2008, lounging around had become big business, and Kool had done so well that we eliminated JBW and became exclusively Kool Party Rentals, focusing solely on event furniture and illuminated décor. In August 2009, we opened a San Diego showroom.
All this as events have faced one of the most challenging markets in memory. Here are three things I’ve learned as the industry has evolved and our company has grown.
1. Never Be Afraid to Expand
Following Warren Buffet’s advice to be fearless when all others are afraid, I expanded Kool’s scope nationally in January 2009. According to conventional wisdom, my timing couldn’t have been worse. But I had the resources and could seize the opportunity. Remember, when others are hunkering down, you can take advantage of the reduced competition to position your company for the upturn.
2. Listen to Your Mother
I’m actually a cautious businessman. I wouldn’t have changed my company 180 degrees if I didn’t believe in our look and product, “lounge entertainment.” And to back up our products, I took a page from my mother’s book of business style — provide exemplary service and top-quality products. I also inherited her perfectionism and eye for detail, two qualities this industry demands.
3. Understand Your Real Business
Rental businesses don’t simply provide a certain product, but rather evolving solutions to evolving needs. Forget this and your business risks losing relevancy and market share. For example, while illuminated décor is relatively new, we now use recycled material in some furniture to help clients meet sustainability objectives. All event businesses should be driven by this openness to innovation.
Whether you are taking a chance by expanding or improving what you already do, keep these three tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to growth, in any economy.