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Staying behind the scenes has put family-owned Event Source out front at some of the region’s largest corporate shindigs

By Nina Polien Light  |  Photo by Thomas Skernivitz

Pondering the color of table linens, the shape of water glasses or whether to slipcover dining chairs may seem like minutia, but anyone who has planned a corporate event knows that details matter.

“Aesthetics is part of salesmanship,” John Bibbo Jr., president of Event Source, says. “When you’re dealing with people who have the capability of investing in an organization or donating money, they want to be taken care of. You can’t serve hot dogs and beans to someone who is giving a million dollars to a hospital.”

Bibbo and his company supply higher-end tables, chairs, linens, dishes, and commercial catering equipment to event planners, florists, and university commercial food services in Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. When called upon, they also deliver to other areas of the Midwest and points south. 

Ninety-five percent of Event Source’s dealings are what Bibbo calls business-to-business commercial catering, meaning his company provides and delivers the equipment and accouterments that party planners, florists, caterers, and other hospitality professionals require for their clients’ events. “We don’t manufacture equipment, import supplies, or do flowers,” he says. “We focus on rental products. Every one of those other (vendors) are our customers, and we don’t feel we should compete against them.”

Last year Bibbo estimates the company furnished supplies to 12,000 events. Some deliveries were as modest as tables, chairs, and linens for a boardroom meeting of 10 to 12 people. Among the largest events were the President’s Cup in Columbus and an 8,000-person party for an Indianapolis company. For the latter, Event Source sent nine trucks of kitchen equipment to create a full kitchen in the middle of a field.

Although Bibbo does not always know whether linens or serving pieces are being ordered for a wedding or business conference, he can often surmise the type of event based on color schemes or styles. To that end, he has noticed companies expanding their entertainment budgets over the last two years and seeking new and different ways to court potential clients or reward employees. In response, Event Source upgraded its glassware and flatware lines and added 50 linen options to the existing 400 choices.

Increasing inventory has also helped with another trend: last-minute requests. “So when we get a call on Thursday night and delivery is Friday morning, we can handle it,” Bibbo, who also sees an increase in requests for shabby chic, farm, and floral styles, says.

Event Source is a member of the International Special Events Society; American Rental Association, where Bibbo serves the board of directors as party and event shared interest group chairman; Meeting Planners International; and the National Association of Catering Executives. “It gets us in front of people in our industry,” Bibbo says of the affiliations. “You can make calls all day, but when you’re in front of 45 people in a matter of two hours, it’s the quickest and easiest way to meet them.”

Event Source has won the coveted “Rental Company of the Year” international award from Event Solutions magazine, but Bibbo is not resting on his laurels. Instead, he plans to grow the company organically. “Anyone can buy equipment, but before you can expand into new markets, you have to be prepared and have systems in place to be as efficient as possible,” he says. “You can’t make too many mistakes because it’s hard to get 300 forks up to Detroit in two hours when it’s a three-hour drive. Accuracy and paying close attention are key to us.”  

For more information: eventsource.com 

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