2022 MATRA Show Report

2022 was the year that MATRA moved even further south when we pitched our tents in North Carolina. The commercial tenting community arrived ready to go in the hospitable town of Greenville, South Carolina. Here participants were very well treated by the excellent staff of the Embassy Suites Golf Resort & Conference Center.

As always, Tent OX drove the majority of stakes – nearly 1000 -for the event despite a serious rain-induced delay that stretched into Sunday, November 6. By mid-afternoon things skies had mostly cleared and the day ended with about 80% of the tents well under way, with many of them completed by dusk. Driving that many stakes into asphalt is no easy task without the use of a Tent OX. But with four machines available for use, quite a few tent and event companies got seat time. Installers had their work cut out for them in order to compensate for the rolling landscape of the parking lot. Some intensive work on the Granite site shown here ensured level flooring.

Monday saw the rest of the tents go up, including some pretty fancy installation work. Jeff Hinck, General Manager of New Fairfield, New Jersey’s A Party Center put on a bravura demonstration of Block and Roll ballast placement using an Avant 423 and OX and Roll single fork attachment to do a one-over-two stack of 700-pound blocks all the way around the perimeter.  A collaboration between TopTec and B and R installed a clearspan structure over an existing plaza area right outside the hotel, butted closely to a brick kneewall. It represented an excellent technical install, proving how efficiently a ballasted tent can be erected.

Lots of people climbed aboard a Tent OX during set up for staking and materials movement, but the Tent OX was unique in its ability to quickly drive stakes at the edges of the very tightly configured parking lot of this Embassy Suites location, arguably the smallest parking area a MATRA show has been staged in for many years.

Part of the MATRA btain trust works out where to put one more trailer in the cozy confines of the tent show parking lot

Courtney Tamuzza, general manager for A Party Center, showed again she is a top operator, driving a Tent OX machine into an almost impossibly tight 4’-wide perimeter area between a Fred’s structure tent (shown here) and adjacent parking lot curbing. She expertly maneuvered her articulated loader, tip-toeing around materials intruding into the narrow aisle to hammer in the final set of stakes.

That night, everybody cut loose with a costumed lip-synching contest, and many minds were bent severely by extraordinary interpretations of Elvis, Madonna, Village People, and more.

An elevator ride with the “Village People.” from Fred’s

It was great fun, and it included a cigar truck (think food truck, but smokier).

Training is a core exercise at every MATRA show, and this year’s Tuesday training day was a little hotter than most with a fire extinguisher demo. Other events were perhaps more placid, but virtually all were heavily attended.

The MATRA GAMES introduced a new event, pictured here…

MATRA GAMES: a new event saw contestants sprinting a number of folding chairs up an incline

…but the rest of the events featured more traditional pursuits like stake driving and the tent toss.

The Wednesday Dinner was tasty, held in the Losberger Tent. Here we picture the two people who have attended more MATRAs than all others at the show: Steve Beliveau of Anchor and Scott Woodruff of Tent OX.

Finally, on Thursday morning, crews were out early in advance of the arrival of another storm. A number of OX machines helped speed up the stake pulling process.

A changing landscape (for the better) for commercial tent renters. One of the most satisfying aspects of attending MATRA is talking to our friendly, supportive community of tent rental companies, manufacturers and service operations that stand ready to serve them. Across the board, colleagues report that business is quite healthy. In fact, the bulk of the people we talked to reported big seasons that ran longer into fall than before. Companies say they expect an equal or better year in 2023.

  • Labor shortages remain a potential drag on growth, and to maintain momentum, commercial tent rental companies are gradually shifting their business practices
  • They are investing in increased levels of mechanization and deepening their efforts to improve operational and scheduling efficiency. They also are actively raising pay for tent staff and hiking rental rates. These approaches have helped companies meet increased demand and make more money.
  • Rental companies are actively rejecting smaller jobs to free up what staff they have for larger, more lucrative and repeated engagements.
  • By suggesting that clients go to smaller event rental companies in the area, there is anecdotal evidence that larger commercial event rental companies are helping to keep smaller rental operations viable. This can enhance the overall health and growth of our already robust market sector.