After acquisition, General Rental looks to expand business in region
● By Steven Hoffman
In mid-April, General Rental completed the acquisition of Event Central, a company based in Mechanicsburg, Pa. that has long been a leader in the party rental business throughout central Pennsylvania.
“I’ve been looking to expand for a few years,” said Eric Schuibbeo, the president of General Rental, explaining that it was better at this point to purchase a business that was already well-established with a customer base rather than starting from scratch in a new area.
Schuibbeo has owned General Rental, which is located on East Baltimore Pike in Avondale, since 2004. With the new acquisition, Schuibbeo looks for the party and event rental side of the business to dramatically increase in the area, without sacrificing the already prominent equipment rental side of the business.
According to Schuibbeo, it took about a year for the Event Central acquisition to be completed. The owner of that company had reached a point where he was retiring and wanted to put the business up for sale.
Schuibbeo saw a lot of potential for the business, which already handles commencement exercises for a number of colleges in central Pennsylvania, some events for Hershey Entertainment, RV conventions, an art fest and brew fest, and larger events like the World Conference for Mennonites.
“Event Central is right outside Harrisburg, where there is a lot of people and a lot of industry,” Schuibbeo explained. “A number of major roads run right through Harrisburg.”
Event Central is also only about 90 minutes away from the General Rental office, allowing the 51 employees to share resources between the two sites.
Schuibbeo, a resident of Kennett Square who graduated from Kennett High School and the University of Delaware, said that he wants to provide party-planning and event-planning services for larger events throughout Chester County and Delaware now that General Rental has the inventory necessary to do so.
“We feel that even though we’ve been in the party business in southern Pennsylvania for years, the area has been under-served when it comes to large events,” he said.
Schuibbeo has a background in finance and is an accountant by trade. He’s been involved in the rental business in one way or another for 27 years, starting with a job with a truck rental company in Wilmington. He knows that the most vital component to success in the business is providing superior customer service to his clients.
“If there’s an event and we need to be there to set up overnight, we’ll be there to set up overnight,” he explained. “We have two tractor trailers and we can deliver anywhere. We are able to provide high-end customer service. We’re attentive to what our customers’ needs are.”
General Rental offers a wide range of services, including the sale and rental of various types of equipment. General Rental is a Stihl dealership, a full-line Husqvarna dealer, and also offers Honda engines. It rents a variety of equipment, ranging from automotive to carpentry tools, to construction equipment.
When it comes to staging an event, General Rental can do everything from setting up tents of various sizes to supplying chairs, tables, and linens. Employees also have the ability to set up the staging, the lighting systems, or the sound systems. The goal is to make the preparations for an event as easy as possible for customers.
As a longtime local resident, Schuibbeo knows of several large events in Chester County or Delaware that currently rely on companies from outside the area for party-planning or event-planning services. He also sees some good possibilities for setting up outdoor events, such as some of the activities that are related to the horsing community.
Schuibbeo said that the company utilizes an Avant articulating skid loader that allows for the easy set-up and take-down of tents without doing damage to the ground as they move on and off a property.
General Rental will continue to operate out of Avondale. As the company grows its party-planning and event-planning business, the Event Central name will likely be used for events in Chester County and Delaware. Both companies have built excellent reputations through the years, so there’s a benefit to continuing them. Schuibbeo envisions an expansion not just in Chester County and Delaware area, but in Maryland as well since Baltimore is only about an hour and fifteen minutes away from southern Chester County and the central Pennsylvania area.
“Our goal,” explained Schuibbeo, “is to build this business. It’s about rolling up our sleeves and getting down to work every day.”