Walk into U.S. Tent’s 80,000 sq. ft. building and you’ll catch a glimpse of their new showroom and be greeted by none other than Lucy the white German Shepard.
“Lucy kind of sets people at ease and make this a friendly atmosphere…she’s definitely not a guard dog,” Tim Boyles, co-owner and V.P. says as he rolls his wheelchair through a sea of linens and what nots in the warehouse with Lucy obediently by his side.
Friendly. Approachable. Above and beyond service. Quality products. They’re some of the elements that set this tent company apart.
From its humble beginnings 15 years ago when they purchased United States Tents with a truck, a few tents and table cloths, and two employees, today’s U.S. Tent has grown exponentially.
“We started with garbage and went right to quality,” Tim says. “We purchased the business and drove the truck down the road and the wheels literally fell off,” says Tim. “Today we have close to 100 employees, have gone from 30,000 sq. feet to 80,000 sq. feet of warehouse on 17 acres…we still have room to expand.”
Chances are you’ve been in one of their creations if you’ve attended any galas in town. Or even dined at a temporary building site when a tent becomes a ‘home’ for a business.
“Sarasota Yacht Club had us build their temporary headquarters and they had everything from sound banners to HVAC,” Tim says.
Most times you can barely tell you’re in a ‘tent,’ as demonstrated by many galas, including one of Tim’s favorites – a New College event. Tim says the attendees were totally clueless to the cold, tropical winds and rain hurling around outside as they dined and partied in absolute luxury (pictured) surrounded by cascading drapes, intricate lighting and extra touches by the event planners. “I was a nervous wreck (as the tent walls ebbed and flowed with the winds) and the attendees were oblivious,” Tim says.
In addition to U.S. Tent’s new home, they recently purchased Linens by the Sea as an expanded offering to their customers.
“People get so excited over tablecloths and fabric,” Tim says. “They love matching a swatch of ribbon or their flowers to the linens.” They started with simple polyester blend cloths and met the requests of the customers for more, becoming a one-stop shop when acquiring Linens by the Sea.
“People will have a $25,000 budget for their event and spend $22,000 on linens…it’s amazing,” Tim says.
The linens were a call to customer requests, as is U.S. Tent’s goal of becoming a one-stop shop for their customers who comprise mostly wedding planners, event planners, and caterers. So much more than linens and tents, they offer chairs to china.
“We’re not in any way wanting to compete with our clients,” Tim says. He’s just making their jobs easier and more convenient and enjoyable.
Tim says Sarasota is a ‘big, small town” as most of his customers comprise a dozen or more people that run the event engine in town. He, his brother, and father continue to focus on outstanding service and meeting every need, from front end greeting to delivery and set-up, and run this rags to riches business success story on old-fashioned principles.
U.S. Tent has donated in-kind gifts every year of close to $250,000 as non-profits garner discounts on services. From this heart-felt offering to Lucy’s warm doggie greeting, U.S. Tent’s growth has not affected its heart and principles.
“My promises are delivered,” Tim says.
Photos by Patti Pearson and courtesy of U.S. Tent.