12,000-mile Road Tour Delivers New Insights

Last week we talked to Scott Pickel about his March through May “Year of the OX Road Tour” into America’s heartland, the Deep South, Southwestern states, and the West Coast, visiting more than 200 companies and talking to them about their businesses. Throughout his 15-state trip, Scott heard again and again that he was the one and only manufacturing representative to stop by their shops in over a year. As a result, he received warm welcomes!

Here’s what Scott learned about the current state of our country’s tent rental companies (large, medium and small), as they begin their climb out of the 14-month nightmare that was Covid-19.

Insight #1: Companies who managed to retain their staffs are more likely to have a really successful 2021.

Scottvisited several major markets across the country as part of Tent OX’s “Year of the OX” tour. “In each one, there was at least one company that was able to keep its staff by planning further ahead and making strategic sacrifices,” Scott reports. “These companies tell me they are doing amazingly well, taking on new business without concern. Many of them are also purchasing a Tent OX to further amplify the performance of their crew.” 

Companies that have been less able to retain crews told Scott they are looking for new ways to quickly mechanize to make up for people shortages.


Scott Pickel on the road in Sacramento, California, meeting with Kevin Vasquez, Chief Technology Officer in front of the headquarters of Made In The Shade, which also baby sat his 735 machine while he returned home for a break in his 12,000-mile trek.

Insight #2: Companies who regularly invested in some form of automation over the years are best positioned for growth this year. “At shops in every state, you could identify those companies that had invested periodically in things like Teeco or Charneke washers, racking systems with palletization, scheduling systems or – yes – a Tent OX. They are the ones who say they are really busy, doing really well. And their phones are always ringing,” Scott said.

Insight #3: More companies are actively investing in their businesses this year as a reasonable and necessary expense in the wake of the Pandemic. “When I would walk in the door to talk to a company, I noted that the worsening labor shortage is making people clearly more receptive this year to the idea of investing in their company, going for tools and machinery that can help save labor and make money.”

Many of the 200 or so companies Scott visited this Spring said it told him it will be impossible to field as many crews as they had prior to the Pandemic. “While labor has been a problem for years, right now in June, there are even fewer people available to hire just as business is roaring back,” Scott points out. “To make up for that shortfall, companies are doing what they can to automate, or else face the prospect of turning down work.”

Advice: plan around post-pandemic supply chain shortages. The problem is, supply chains across virtually all industries – that includes manufacturers supporting the Tent and Event community – are experiencing product manufacturing and shipment delays. “Tent OX is no different. We’re scrambling to fill orders,” Scott says. Emblematic of the world-wide product shortage is this photo Scott took showing several of about 50 ships that were stacked up off Seal Beach, California, waiting to enter the Port of San Diego.

The best advice Scott can give a tent and event company trying to add automation of any kind to save labor is this: “If you’re planning to invest in new technology and new product, plan to buy it well ahead your need, due to longer delivery times. That includes calling your vendor to check on stock.”