Getting Into Party Rentals

Careful planning for equipment costs is key when adding party rentals to your offerings
Getting Into Party Rentals
Party rentals – things such as tents, tables and chairs for special events – are a logical add-on service for portable restroom operators who are looking for an additional revenue stream.

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Party rentals – things such as tents, tables and chairs for special events – are a logical add-on service for portable restroom operators who are looking for an additional revenue stream and worry about being too dependent on one core service. Stenberg Bros. Inc., a portable restroom outfit based roughly in the southern center of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, jumped into party rentals about a decade ago, and the move has paid dividends since then.

“It fit in well with what we were already doing,” says Wayne Stenberg, one of four sons that co-own the company along with their father, Carl. “And no one else in our area was doing it, other than a couple of mom-and-pop outfits. There weren’t a lot of customers asking for it, but enough to make it worthwhile to get into. We started out with six tents and now have close to 30.”

Stenberg says profit margins on party rentals are decent, but anyone who’s thinking about branching out should understand that the startup costs are considerable. For example, one 20-by-20-foot tent costs roughly $3,500 and an 8-foot-long plastic table goes for about $100. The rental rate for a 20-by-20-foot tent is $225 for a weekend and $8 per table. The company buys its tents from Economy Tent International, tables from Lifetime Products and chairs from PS Furniture.

Stenberg Bros. owns about 150 tables, approximately 1,000 chairs, and tents ranging in size from 20 by 20 feet to 40 by 80 feet. They’re all what’s known as frame tents, which means there’s no center pole for support. “Frame tents just look nicer because there are no center poles … people like them because they’re so wide open inside,” Stenberg says. “They also can better withstand higher winds because they’re more heavy-duty.”

Stenberg Bros. also bought a 14-foot Ford cube van, two Ford pickup trucks and two trailers made by Wells Cargo Inc. to transport tents and other rental items. The company also hires two high school students during summers to handle party rental deliveries and setups, Stenberg says, ticking off other startup and ongoing costs. “Like with anything else, it took about four or five years before we started getting a return on our investment,” Stenberg says.

Another tip: The company started out buying smaller tents first; as demand grew, it was buying larger tents. “The biggest thing is to take good care of the tents,” he says. “There’s more to it in terms of maintenance and upkeep than you think. It’s especially important to store them properly … put them away only if they’re thoroughly dried so you don’t get mold. And if you fold them up correctly, they’re that much easier to install.”

Read more about Stenberg Bros. in the profile in the August issue



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