Region’s largest party rental company executes new strategies in more conservative era

 

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Contact: Allison R. Miller
Address: 72 Wilson Road Eighty Four, PA 15330
Email: marketing@allparty.com
Website: www.allparty.com
Owners: Art Brown and Jason Brown
Email: art@allparty.com and jason@allparty.com

 

Region’s largest party rental company executes new strategies in more conservative era

EIGHTY FOUR  (July 18, 2011) – As the region’s largest party rental company, All Occasions Party Rental (www.allparty.com) finds itself at the center of many of the area’s biggest events for UPMC, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Pittsburgh Grand Prix, the Arts Festival and Light-Up Night. Its tents, tables, chairs and place settings also find their way to many of the area’s weddings and backyard graduation parties. But the Eighty Four-based company, founded 33 years ago by Art Brown, isn’t standing still, Brown said last week.

 

Article in the Observer Reporter:

Partying on: Region’s largest party rental company executes new strategies in more conservative era

By Michael Bradwell
Business editor
mbradwell@observer-reporter.com

EIGHTY FOUR – As the region’s largest party rental company, All Occasions Party Rental finds itself at the center of many of the area’s biggest events for UPMC, the Pittsburgh Symphony, Pittsburgh Grand Prix, the Arts Festival and Light-Up Night.

Its tents, tables, chairs and place settings also find their way to many of the area’s weddings and backyard graduation parties. But the Eighty Four-based company, founded 33 years ago by Art Brown, isn’t standing still, Brown said last week.

While acknowledging that everyone from major corporations to people planning weddings and parties have scaled back special event and celebration outlays since the recession hit three years ago, Brown and his son, Jason Brown, have moved into some new areas that give the company national scope.

In 2008, the Browns purchased the former International Paper plant on Wilson Road, using about 70,000 square feet of the 4.5-acre site, which includes a 2,200-square-foot showroom, offices and a 60,000-square-foot warehouse that boasts nine truck bays. While the rental service serves customers throughout Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and travels as far west as Columbus, Ohio, it also maintains another showroom in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

Like the jumbo 150-by-400 foot tents they rent, the Browns, over the past 30 months have also rolled out a new national company that provides upscale tableware sales and rentals to other party rental companies around the country; become a distributor for a line of upscale furniture rentals, and added a unique, interchangeable upscale chair to their burgeoning inventory at the Eighty Four warehouse.

Two years ago, the Browns were also instrumental in starting up the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the International Special Events Society, which now boasts 100 members and, according to its website, is the fastest growing chapter in the 3,000-member organization.

“What recession?” jokes Jason, who is now general manager of AOP. But Jason and his father acknowledged that it was the downturn that prompted the company to begin looking at ways to add to its earnings. “It was at the end of 2007 that we started to see the change,” Jason said.

While companies and organizations continued to hold special events, fundraisers and parties for new product introductions, they were scaling back what they spent, Art said, adding that the trend continues today.

“Ninety percent of these events probably still happen, but 50 to 60 percent of them are probably scaled back,” he said, adding that the same is true for the average American planning a special event.

“The homeowners, the brides are still scaling back,” he added. “The dish pattern they were picking for 95 cents each might now be a 55-cent pattern.”

And when you add up that kind of nod to cost-consciousness, he said, even outlays for a lavish wedding are not what they were a few years ago.

“The $50,000 wedding might now be a $30,000 wedding,” said Art, who added that despite the spending cutbacks, people still expect the best.

The Browns said they recognize that their customers are much more sophisticated than previous generations because of the continuing influences of home and entertainment doyen Martha Stewart and a host of cable television shows that feature the latest decorating ideas, as well as constant reports on the lifestyles and tastes of celebrities like socialite, television personality and actress Kim Kardashian and her family.

“If the Kardashians are doing it, it must be in,” Art said.

A couple of years ago, AOP established a partnership with high-end tableware designer Fortessa, which supplies many of the world’s hotel chains and restaurants, but didn’t have a presence in the party rental industry. The result was Rental Resource Partners, which is headquartered in Eighty Four, with the company offering sales and rental programs to meet the demands of the special events industry, caterers and the restaurant industry.

While restaurants and hotels tend to keep the same patterns of tableware for long periods, the rental business thrives on change. Jason said AOP uses the Fortessa line to design about six new patterns a year, based on the changing trends and tastes it sees in its customers.

The partnership also includes a connection with a German crystal manufacturer, which has enabled the introduction of high-end drinking and wine glasses.

More recently, AOP established a partnership with AFR Event Furnishings, gaining access to distribute the company’s high-end special events furnishings in addition to its own rental inventory.

The Browns said the furniture, which includes sofas and coffee tables, enables the creation of separate lounge areas within an event’s settings, and depending upon the occasion, can be paired with a bar or be used as a “quiet space” for relaxation away from the main event.

The company also became a regional distributor for the Chameleon Chair system, a unique, upscale metal chair that enables complete customization of seating with a wide variety of seat and seatback cover colors.

With its expanded inventory, Art said the sky is the limit for executing someone’s plan for an event or special celebration.

“We can take a blank 10,000-square-foot area and we can transform it into a variety of different scenes,” he said. “You can do anything you want to do.”

Art said the formation of RRP and the new distributorships are helping AOP expand its offerings in an uncertain business environment.

While the company saw an upswing in sales and event spending late last year, it’s uncertain that the trend will remain throughout 2011.

As a small business operator – AOP employs 60 people – Art said people shouldn’t equate a successful day or week on Wall Street with what’s happening elsewhere in the economy.

“Wall Street is not Main Street,” he said. “The guy who owns a flower shop or dry cleaner is still struggling.”

 

About All Occasions Party Rental
All Occasions is a full-service event rental company, providing an extensive range of rental items and equipment in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. With showrooms located in Pittsburgh and Eighty Four, Pennsylvania, All Occasions provides customers with superior service and an unmatched product selection. All Occasions is dedicated to providing customers with superior service and the best product selection to fit every budget. The Event Specialists have managed thousands of events, ranging from intimate backyard gatherings to large corporate functions…no event is too large or too small. The company is deeply committed to making customers look great, and are meticulous about maintaining an inventory with an infinite selection of unique items for those final touches, bringing style and sophistication to each special occasion. All Occasions looks forward to helping customers create memorable moments that will live on long after the final guest has left.

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For more information about All Occasions Party Rental, please contact info@allparty.com.

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