Guest Column: March 2014
By Erik Gerlof
The good part of having a seasonal business is the time you will find during your down season. Time to evaluate your business, and even the industry you are operating in. During my time as president of the Canadian Rental Association B.C. Local, we discussed different ways to improve the rental industry as a whole.
By Erik Gerlof
The good part of having a seasonal business is the time you will find during your down season. Time to evaluate your business, and even the industry you are operating in. During my time as president of the Canadian Rental Association B.C. Local, we discussed different ways to improve the rental industry as a whole. I did notice that the rental associations’ main focus is on the equipment rental industry. The golf tournament, CRA regional trade show and even our local board is occupied by individuals with a strong equipment rental background. Even though we do rent some tools and equipment, our focus at Rogers Rental is on the event rentals.
I have been wondering for the last two years why the event rental side is so poorly represented in the B.C. Local. Is it because we are less organized? Less governed? Are we too busy during our crazy summer season? As a result I have been looking a bit closer into the event rental industry. After consulting various event rental businesses, I started to notice a common denominator. In many event rental markets in B.C., there are different levels of professionalism. Some event rental businesses take their business seriously, treat customers fairly and display professionalism. These businesses, mostly CRA members, don’t roll the dice when setting up a tent in a difficult situation, they honour safety and obey the rules and regulations put on by authorities and manufacturers. Then there are the fly-by-nighters, the backyard/garage box businesses and wedding decorators who try to make a buck for a year or two and leave a mark on the event rental industry. I think we can all agree that in the last few years the landscape of the event rental industry has changed dramatically. I have witnessed many examples of incorrect tent setups and dangerous staging constructions. Most reputable businesses spend lots of resources, time and effort in attending seminars at our annual ARA trade shows. They spend significantly more on products that meet or exceed safety standards concerning, for example, fire safety. My question to you, fellow event rental stores, is are we going to wait until something tragic happens? There are numerous examples around of whole events going into flames because something simple like the ceiling drapery was not fire retardant. People have gone to hospital as a result. Are we going to wait until an improperly secured tent flies and hurts somebody in its path?
Remember that in today’s electronic environment accidents will go viral fast. If the culprit has “rental” or “event” in its name, it will reflect on your business, even though you may have had nothing to do with the incident. It is time we take the initiative ourselves and make sure we all operate on an equal playing field with our less professional counterparts. We need to be ready to work together with the authorities to get a safety system in place. For example, canopies and structures should only be erected by trained and/or licensed professionals.
Some will feel it is not a smart idea to wake the sleeping bear of government regulation. Maybe not, but we all know, with the many untrained and unprofessional garage box event planners around, it will be only a matter of time before the bear will be awoken by a nasty accident. Then matters will be out of our hands.
Event rental industry, are you ready to govern yourself, or are you going to wait to be governed? Are you interested in a standardized industry? Would you like to see governed mandatory staking and security practices? Talk to us. Join your local CRA board and have your voice heard.
Erik Gerlof owns Rogers Rental in Kamloops, B.C. and is president of the Canadian Rental Association B.C. Local.