Anton van Druten’s knowledge of the stretch tent industry spans the globe, literally. As owner of Swift Tents, a Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada-based business that specializes in the installation of stretch tents and in the training of riggers and event crews, van Druten became familiar with the tent industry while living in South Africa. Here, he shares his thoughts about setting up shop on a different continent, the perks of creating spectacular spaces and how stretch tent technology is revolutionizing the outdoor event industry.
How long have you worked at the company?
I founded Swift Tents in 2013 after moving to Canada from Cape Town, South Africa.
How did you get involved in the industry?
I have been working with stretch tents since their early days in 2010. From touring with an original 1920s Speigeltent to building luxury safari camps in Botswana, tents have always been part of my working life.
What do you anticipate for the industry in the next five years? Ten?
Stretch Tent technology revolutionized the outdoor event industry in Southern Africa and is spreading quickly around the world. R&D is ongoing and the product is constantly evolving. We are excited to be at the forefront of its exposure to the North American market and have no doubt that our tents will become a versatile, simple and cost effective alternative to traditional tented structures for events of all kinds.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Building a new business in a new country with a product the event industry is completely unfamiliar with has no shortage of challenges. Perhaps my biggest is realizing you really can’t do everything yourself even when you think you can.
What are the biggest rewards?
Creating spectacular spaces for our clients—especially in challenging locations where traditional event tents don’t work.
Why did you join IFAI? Which services/benefits do you use the most?
IFAI has proven a limitless resource to learn not only about the tent industry in North America but aspects of the fabrics industry I have never been exposed to prior to moving here. Our young business has benefited tremendously from the exposure and connections we have made through IFAI.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
Mountain biking and snowboarding.
What was the first job you ever had?
Scuba diving instructor.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do what you fear most.
Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally?
What is number one on your bucket list?
Learn to fly a float plane.