Ask the Expert: Chris Trailer | American Rentals

Chris Trailer is one of my go-to guys for tent and equipment rentals here in Northern Michigan. I recently had a chance to talk with him a bit more in-depth about what goes into an event and his thoughts on the process.

How has American Rentals been serving the people of Northern Michigan, and what sets you apart from other tent/event rental companies in the area?

Since the establishment of our company over thirty years ago, American Rental has strived to provide the highest quality product and service to all our customers.  Though originally based only in Lansing, we have served customers in nearly every Michigan city, as well as numerous states in the eastern half of the country.  Opening our Traverse City location nearly ten years ago has allowed us to bring northerners our top of the line product with a kind of service only a local company can provide.  Our leaders and staff understand that the key to a great rental experience is the ability of customers to depend on us to be available, reachable, and involved throughout the entire rental process.  Personal sacrifices are necessary, understood, and experienced by all team members in order to truly make our customers a top priority.  Though providing such a quality of service isn’t always effortless, our customers’ gratitude after a successful event makes these sacrifices worth enduring.  If this kind of service was easy to deliver, it wouldn’t be what sets us apart from the rest.

What attracted you to the event industry in the first place and what keeps you going?

Initially, I’ll admit, my position at American Rental was simply a job; a way for me to pay the bills and make ends meet.  The more I worked here, however, the more I began to realize that our company wasn’t just a place for people to rent tables and chairs.  I became intrigued by the entire rental process: the initial consultations, interpreting customer visions, becoming personally invested in each event, having the desire to exceed expectations, and feeling a sense of complete satisfaction when visions become realities.  When I first joined the American Rental team, my paycheck kept me coming to work every day.  Before long, though, this job became personal and my desire to provide customers with the best experience possible dominated my mindset.  Knowing that our customers are depending on us to continue to deliver their visions keeps me motivated and enthusiastic about being part of such a quality company.

Procuring the rentals for a wedding can be very overwhelming if you have never done such a thing...what advice would you give to engaged coupled who are trying to source tents and other gear for their event?

First, I would remind couples to focus on what truly matters.  We live in an era full of competition and media.  From magazines to TV shows, there is a wealth of wedding ideas just beckoning for engaged couples to get hung up on.  Desiring a beautiful wedding day is nothing short of normal.  Focusing on the grander picture, however, will help both brides and grooms not get hung up on the minute details that sometimes require compromise during the busy wedding rental season.  Second, I would encourage all wedding equipment renters to set reasonable expectations.  Desiring a high quality product is not unreasonable, whatsoever.  In fact, we wouldn’t have made it in business this long without being able to provide just that.  Still, couples often come to the table with the misconception that their equipment will be hot off the line.  Unfortunately for their vision, that is just not the case.  On the other hand, we are able to deliver high-quality rental equipment at a price far below brand new because we rent it numerous times throughout the rental season.  Your wedding rentals will be just that: rentals.  We strive to maintain the life of our products for as long as possible, but as products are only brand new during the first rental, renters should expect to receive products that have been previously used.  Expecting quality over perfection will allow customers to focus more on the money they are saving by renting their equipment, and less on insignificant details that will have little effect on the grandness of their wedding day.

You were married last Summer. What did you learn from experiencing the process from the "other side"?

We were blessed with the pleasure of working with a wedding coordinator (Alicia Caldecott “A Day in May Events”) who helped to eliminate the stress of planning a wedding. Weddings are a lot of work, we started early. It seemed the day after I proposed to my fiancé the planning had begun. Enjoy the time you have, picking out linens, the caterer & the DJ or band. There is a lot to pick from if  you have time!  If I were to give advice from my point of view (the groom):  don’t worry about the miniature details, it will all come together.

If you could give one piece of advice to engaged couples, what would it be?

As I said before, focus on what truly matters.  A wedding is simply a day to celebrate the beginning of a lifelong union in love.  While the tiny details seem so important leading up to the big day, you hardly have time to notice them all when that day finally arrives.  Focusing on each other will keep your mind in the right place.  Also, deciding as a couple which major detail or two is/are of the highest priority will aid in decision making, and further keep you focused on what is really most important to you and your wedding day.

Photo courtesy of American Rentals