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Alain Perez pushes the limits

Feature, Management, Perspective, Tents | October 1, 2011 | By:

Alain Perez embraces challenge to create extraordinary temporary structures.

There came a point in our business when we realized that if we were really going to make a difference for our clients and our company, we had to control the product from design to fabrication to installation,” says Alain Perez, founder and president of Eventstar Structures in Medley, Fla. “Yes, it was a change in our business model, but without a degree of risk, you’ll never get anywhere.”

Alain, who founded the company with partners Jose Gonzalez and sister Belkys Perez, quite possibly inherited a propensity for ingenuity and entrepreneurship from his father, Ignacio Perez. As inventor of a patented special support system for temporary floors, Alain’s father started Fortrex structures, a company specializing in pool covers. Soon after, Alain and his partners launched their tent structures business, Eventstar.

From the beginning, the three partners divided their responsibilities. Gonzalez manages operations; Belkys Perez manages finances; and Alain Perez manages design and marketing. Perez is constantly innovating to take the company to the next level. “We are focused,” he says. “And we have the technical expertise to take on a challenge.”

From installation to manufacturing

Two years into the venture, in 1999, Eventstar was contracted to install a 12,000-square-foot two-story tent structure for the Super Bowl in Miami, and was given only one month from planning to installation. “The short timeline forced us to fabricate our own structure,” Perez says. “We were ready and willing for the challenge.” Months before, Perez had hired an architect, Ramiro Gonzalez, who designed the structure, and has since been responsible for many of the company’s award-winning designs.

Still, it was a steep learning curve for the whole team. “Our background in the flooring business involved manufacturing, and that portion of the work always appealed to me,” Perez says. “But fabric manufacturing involved a different approach from manufacturing flooring systems—there were many things we had to learn from scratch.”

Turnaround time

As the staff became even more proficient at the nuances of design and manufacturing, Eventstar became known for its ability to turn around innovative, complex projects within a tight timeline. The company purchases between 500,000 and 800,000 square feet of fabric a year, which is used for tent structures, awnings and specialty fabric structures. Despite the economic challenges of the last few years, Eventstar has been successful, a fact Perez credits to their quality of design and manufacturing and planning practices. “There’s still a demand for specialty projects like the ones we do, but if we didn’t control the entire process ourselves we couldn’t excel,” he says. “It’s the guarantee of the turnaround time that makes the difference for us. When you have an extended chain of vendors, you can’t guarantee that.”

Building capacity

Since the company’s inception, it’s grown from four employees to more than 120 full-time staff, with a network of specialty labor, which has enabled them to take on larger and more complex projects. But with growth comes the need to rethink the way the staff functions as a whole. Approximately every six months, Perez and his partners examine the management in different departments to determine if it’s positioned to take on the next level of growth. “Of course you have to adapt so that you’re staffed in adequate numbers,” he says. “But it’s not only volume; it’s expertise. That’s where we find ourselves top-grading the most.”

One area that Perez had to address as the company grew was logistics. In 2009, the company hired a logistics expert, and since then has added a logistics assistant. “You need 100,000 square feet of something built in 48 hours and not 48 days?” Perez says. “We can do that, but it must come with an assured delivery. That’s where the logistics manager and her assistant come in. Their total focus is scheduling and coordinating—and rescheduling and re-coordinating.”

Growth and innovation

Having superior staff enables Perez and his partners to continue to plan for long-term growth and innovation. In 2009, the company again expanded its products to include “on-demand” buildings, which are engineered to be temporary or permanent structures with removable hard walls and roofs. They are completely modular, allowing for maximum customizability. The company was asked to design, engineer, manufacture and install a temporary building of this kind for the worldwide launch of Audi A8. The building needed to be capable of holding enormous production weight. The hybrid nature of the structure prompted city officials to require adherence to not only the temporary structure codes but also to permanent structure codes. Ultimately all of this was achieved, and the client was beyond satisfied with the finished product.

That product expansion has led to international growth as well. Eventstar Structures now not only works in the United States, but also in the Caribbean, South America and Central America. “We had strong relationships and understood the demands of our international clients,” Perez says.

Perez and his company are now working on several large-scale projects that require both temporary and permanent structures custom designed solely for the client’s agenda. He admits that when taking on such expansive, groundbreaking projects, there’s the possibility of missing the mark in calculating how much effort and cost will be involved. “I have never regretted taking on a project, although we have faced intense challenges,” he says. “Despite the hurdles, we always deliver superior quality and learn and grow from each experience.” Although Eventstar began as a tent rental company, it has evolved into a firm that has the ability and desire to take on projects that allow Perez and his team to innovate and expand their product offerings.

Perez thrives on imagining the next project, and pushing the limits of what’s been done before. “I don’t look at what’s ahead of me,” he says. “I envision what’s beyond that.”

Sigrid Tornquist is a freelance author and editor based in St. Paul, Minn. She is also the associate editor of InTents magazine, a publication of the Industrial Fabrics Association International.

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