New Board MemberS - STEVE CAMPBELL, BILLY HILL AND IAN SHERWOOD!
Steve Campbell, L & A Tent Rentals
Welcome Steve Campbell as on of the the newest MATRA Board members!! Steve joins the Board with 14 years experience in the tent rental industry. He began as a general laborer doing, as he states, "much of the grunt work which was mostly beating stakes out of the ground with another stake...".
Starting on that labor level, Steve believes one of the challenges he currently experiences is finding good, quality laborers. It is not the same today, he says, "as relying heavily on college friends for labor, which made the job fun...". However, his is proud of the success at L & A Tent Rental during his tenure, which includes going from a 3,500 sq./ft. warehouse with no loading dock to 23,000 sq./ft. warehouse and five loading docks and a lot of equipment acquisition.
Steve believes a significant change in the tenting industry involves the improvement in all the equipment that is used for tent installations. He says, "14 years ago, everything was basically straight manual labor. Now there are a plethora of stake pullers, TentOx, etc., available to make the job easier and safer."
Steve's attendance at the MATRA conferences enables him to continue to build relationships with tent manufacturers and other rental company personnel. In addition, he states, "It's a great forum to learn and express your needs, likes and dislikes to manufacturers of tents or tools used for tents." What does Steve envision for MATRA's future? Steve thinks it will be ongoing safety training with equipment/material handling, continued study on ballasting which will lead to a "standard" on non-engineered tents. He also plans on working with additional "hands-on" demonstrations for new attendees with tent products and tools.
Billy Hill, Rainbow Party & Tent Rental
Billy, the second of our newest Board members, entered the tent rental industry right out of high school where he began with only one 20 x 20 pole tent. He has now been in the business for 26 years serving a wide area including Long Island, Suffolk, Nassau and Queens Counties, New York.
Billy also agrees that one of the biggest challenges he has faced during his tenure is "finding quality help.".. While that also may be true in many businesses, it is especially important in a rental company. Despite that challenge, Billy believes his success is remaining in business for these 26 years and the reputation he has built within the community.
"Lighter materials, general improvement in all tenting equipment and products, especially the keder end of tents" is what Billy believes are significant changes in the tent rental industry over the years. "It certainly is a different method of installation than back when I first began", says Billy.
"MATRA has the best hands-on event show in the country", states Billy. "Every year I have attended, I have found something new I can always bring back to the business." Billy's vision for MATRA in the future is that the conference continues to grow into an international event. he believes that, "anyone in the event/tent rental industry needs to be at The Tent Show". Billy will be working with other Board members to increase awareness regarding the conference and we look forward to his participation.
Ian Sherwood, Tents Unlimited
Ian Sherwood, our final new member to the Board, has been in the industry since 2002, setting up his first tent after high school graduation for Tents Unlimited. he spent a few years, after college, working with Vermont Tent Company. He then returned to Connecticut and Tents Unlimited, which he and his wife now own.
Based on the experience he acquired through Vermont Tent, I an was able to excel at Tents Unlimited through his ability to spend long, hot days installing tents as well as getting the front end paperwork done too! he was challenged with the variety of client requests and states, "I was thrown in right at the beginning of the Pinterest revolution where anything and everything is out there for customers to see."
Ian believes the biggest change in the tenting industry since he began is the diversification of product and customer requests. Presenting a huge challenge for a small-market company, Ian states, "It's very hard to keep up with trends and each purchase is a hard decision. When you have the Titans of the industry having the ability to not only buy the new styles but have every color or style option and 1000 of each, it makes it hard for companies my size who struggle to just buy 200-300 of a single chair style and hope it's the one that customers want to rent." As far as Ian is concerned, group customer expectation falls into the same category. Custom, obscure requests are very much on the rise a well and Ian feels that embracing this customization "separates him from the herd" and will continue to contribute to the success of his business.
Attending the MATRA Conference provides Ian a forum to network, discuss industry challenges with his peers, view the latest products on the market, reflect on a busy season and...breathe! Ian supports MATRA's name change and states that it "...will allow us to target a much larger population in the industry" and "hope that we truly become a worldwide leader in the tent and event rental community".
Recognizing that our Association should continue to move the conference locations outside our previous boundaries and improving our technological abilities are two of Ian's visions for MATRA's future. Adjusting conference locations will give MATRA the ability to "draw more and more members from throughout the country" which, Ian states, "will create a larger member base and allow for the continued growth of the organization.," Ian is a member of a task force specifically assigned to create upgrades in MATRA's technology status and we look forward to his contributions in that arena!
All three of our new Board members bring many years of experience and enthusiasm to MATRA. We are grateful to have them join us and we look forward to all of their contributions!