December to March are traditionally slow months in Georgia’s festival and outdoor events, but that’s no longer the case for Classic Tents & Events in Norcross. Now, those months — and every other month of the year — are busy with TV and film productions.
“Due to the film industry and other revenue, we’re able to keep busier during the off-season,” says Bari Holmes, account executive at Classic Tents. “Before we got into film, we had workers that were reduced to 20 hours a week in February, now they’re getting 40 to 50 hours a week. That makes a real difference in their lives.”
In 2011, Classic Tents & Events started renting tents and accessories to productions filming in Georgia. With this additional revenue stream, the company grew from six full-time employees with lots of temporary and seasonal help to more than 50 people on the payroll year-round. Classic Tents & Events quadrupled its warehouse space to 44,000 square feet and went from two to nine trucks — with three more on the way.
Classic Tent’s lucky break came in October of 2011. In a classic movie twist, a location manager called Classic Tents & Events by accident thinking it was a different company. Bari rented tables and chairs to him. She understood the potential of the film industry and worked on building a business relationship with the location manager until he declared that she was his new tent person. Classic Tents & Events reputation spread and other location managers began to call.
In 2013, Bari was introduced to a key assistant location manager with the “Walking Dead.” This was the company’s first large production. It represented an 800 percent increase in revenue from film industry clients, and what’s more, it was a consistent flow of revenue. Films come and go but Bari could plan on the repeat work on Walking Dead.
Consistent work allowed the company to create an internal infrastructure with different levels of management. Seasonal crew leaders were hired on as full-time employees and given training and support.
“The film industry has allowed us to grow and offer more benefits to associates,” says Bari.
But Bari and her crew don’t take the work for granted. They know the off-season work could go away just as easily. Bari makes sure she understands what location managers need. She creates CAD drawings to map tent layouts on set and offers accessories like mirrors, LED lights, drapes, tables and chairs. Classic Tents & Events has found ways to serve smaller productions like commercials and has three small crews who are dedicated to them.
Bari says she knows her client is the location manager, not the production. She’s watched Georgia-based location managers rise through the ranks. Now they’re the ones making decisions and referring Classic Tents & Events to more people in the industry.
“It’s wonderful to see Georgians help each other out and build a locally-based infrastructure for the Georgia film industry,” says Bari.
This story is presented in cooperation with the Georgia Studio & Infrastructure Alliance. Learn more about the Georgia Studio & Infrastructure Alliance.