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Tent Events

To find out what’s been happening in the industry, we reached out to three different tent manufacturers who also do rentals – Fiesta Tents, Impact Canopies and Warner Shelter Systems.


April 28, 2010
By M. Elizabeth Mooney

Topics

To find out what’s been happening in the industry, we reached out to three different tent manufacturers who also do rentals – Fiesta Tents, Impact Canopies and Warner Shelter Systems.

tent1
Tents remain popular anywhere flexible and temporary shelters are needed. Filling this role at Ontario Place are some shelters from Impact Canopies Canada.


The big question was how did they fare last year in light of the recession? We were pleasantly surprised by the answer – things were just fine. Sam Downing at Impact Canopies Canada said last year performed the way they expected it to, Alexandre Renaud at Fiesta Tents told me things were actually better than expected, and Chad Struthers at Warner Shelter Systems said last year was one of the best years they’ve ever had.

Impact Canopies deals mostly with annual events, Downing says that is probably why they were not hit as hard as other businesses. Warner Shelter has the Calgary Stampede, which certainly helped them last year, and, in fact, Struthers says he is already booking equipment for the July event.

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Tents remain a popular item for weddings, as shown in these two examples from
Fiesta Tents (above and below).
 
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Sometimes something larger is needed, as shown here when Fiesta Tents supplied a Solar System Clear Span tent for Tennis Canada’s Rogers Masters Cup in Montreal.


 

Although annual events provide reliability they also hold big influence. Last year, one of Fiesta’s key annual events – the Montreal Grand Prix – was cancelled due to a dispute between international and Canadian F1 officials. The hit was a big one. “Usually, not only do we provide tents for the event itself, but also for many parties and restaurants during the event,” says Renaud. Luckily it’s been resolved, and the Grand Prix will be in Montreal again this summer.

Last year may have gone better than expected, but none of the companies we spoke to felt the recession was truly over. Struthers told us he just got back from the True Value Rental Market trade show, and said, “Things were down across the board – exhibitors, booth sizes, orders, and attendance.” His prediction is that “Canada is doing better than the States, but it will likely be Spring 2011 before things are back to normal.”

Expectations aren’t any rosier from Fiesta Tents. Renaud expects that revenues will be flat in 2010, but thinks “there will be less panic. People will be more comfortable. Instead of the knee-jerk ‘don’t spend at all’ reaction, they will simply spend less than they did before the recession, instead of not at all.” 

A note of optimism comes from Downing at Impact Canopies. He offers some positive thinking for the year ahead: “During these times people are less likely to take big trips. More people are spending money entertaining at home instead of going on holiday, which means more private home-based tent rentals.” It’s not surprising, since we’ve been hearing a lot about “staycations” in the past year. According to Downing, “Local festivals and home-based events are doing quite well.”

Since companies have been in wait-and-see mode, there weren’t a lot of innovations last year, but there were some changes. Downing noted innovation in pop-up tents: “the waterproofing and fire retardant is improved. This means the fabric is much lighter weight than previously.” And Struthers said, “The big changes seem to be in colours.” In the past, the focus has been on white tents, but people have started asking for coloured fabric or clear tents. Mostly though, the focus has been on maintaining current clients, with companies operating in wait-and-see mode.

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In the future, Renaud expects to see more engineered products, integrating frame and fabric, being developed. “It used to be that people would just throw together a tent with some poles and material, people want more now.” It’s not just the general improvements – waterproofing, fire retardant, or improved tension offered by kedered channels – it’s also about meeting safety and government standards.

Downing expects different shapes and sizes in pop-up and rapid installation structures. “More people will be looking to rent self-installation (tents) in the coming years, especially in larger sizes like 20×20 or 20×30.”  When we asked about longer-term expectations, Renaud said, “If I knew that, I’d be a millionaire,” and Struthers chuckled, and said, “My crystal ball’s cloudy.”  

So, this year we can expect a conservative approach in tent rentals similar to the year before.  Investing in equipment to draw new clients may wait for a while, but at least, in the meantime, things are holding pretty steady.