Running his own show

Bryan Trecek was going to graduate school in criminal justice when he took a job at a party rental business. “I didn’t mind being in the warehouse, and I’d fix things—tables, tents, build string lights—just about anything we needed to have made. I was that person,” he says. “Most tent guys like being on the road; they like the freedom, so if you’re willing to do the job nobody else wants to do, you are given opportunities to move up.”

Eventually, he took a job with Mahaffey Fabric Structures and moved to Memphis, Tenn. Other opportunities and family matters prompted more moves for Trecek, until a Mahaffey contact approached him about a partnership purchase in a tent and rental company in New Orleans, La. That was 2007; Gulf Coast Tent Rentals and New Orleans is still home.

Although Trecek says his company does about 90 percent of their projects on their own, he can call on Mahaffey when he needs something else. “I know their inventory and I know their long-term employees. It’s nice to know what everybody’s abilities are,” he says.

If it’s a big project, he’ll be on the job. “The largest project we did was for the NFL honors event,” he says. “We installed a bunch of different structures and flooring, all raised up, level and interconnected—food areas, bar areas, the red carpet.” That special event, associated with the 2013 Super Bowl, required several structures, including one that went over the iconic Louis Armstrong statue in the park named in the jazz musician’s honor.

It was a good winter for business. “I’d loved to have the Super Bowl come every year,” he says, and with New Orleans’ famed Mardi Gras celebration in February, there was no “slow season” for Trecek.

But about that degree …

“I have most of my Master’s in criminal justice,” he says.

So, why isn’t he a cop?

“I worked as a detention officer for the sheriff’s office and I really disliked it,” he says. “It was a lot different than I wanted. I just didn’t know if I wanted to follow for so long before I moved up and took more responsibility.”

Home and family

Kim, his wife of 18 years, is not involved in the business on a regular basis, but he says she contributes in other important ways. “She has lots of friends, she’s involved in their children’s schools, and she knows a lot of people, so she does her own promotion of the company.”

The couple has two daughters; one is a brown belt in Taekwondo and the other is a student of dance. Both are active in a children’s theater program and are honor students.

He says he used to golf a lot, but with his business and his families’ activities, he doesn’t have time for it now. “I used to fish three times a week,” he says. “I was a certified scuba diver. I used to snow ski, because I grew up in New Jersey. Now I don’t do anything!”

Except follow Saints football. “Living here in New Orleans, you gotta be a Saints fan,” he says. “It really draws you in. I’ve never been a huge football fan, but now we don’t miss a game. I think it’s just how friendly people are down here, and their love of being social and encouraging everyone to have fun.”

Professional connections

The other “time outs” in his life are IFAI events. “I started with IFAI when I was back with Mahaffey,” he says. “I went to the TRD (Tent Rental Division) events. It was kind of a natural when we moved down here. I’d much rather be with colleagues and people who know the business and talk business—people with whom I have something in common.”

By Janet Preus, editor, Specialty Fabrics Review