Encore Events Rentals moving to bigger Sonoma County hub for efficiency boost

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A Healdsburg-based company that has grown rapidly by putting on picture-perfect Wine Country weddings and winery events worthy of deeper brand loyalty now is getting ready to debut its new, larger venue to increase efficiency.

Encore Events Rentals plans to relocate operations that put on hundreds of events simultaneously, moving them to a building under construction next door to Russian River Brewing’s big new brewery ty in Windsor. Set for move-in by year-end, the 56,000-square-foot building at 1101 American Way will take the place of 36,000 square feet of showroom, product warehouses and production shops in Healdsburg, according to Bridget Doherty, president and co-owner.

“The motivator for this is efficiency,” Doherty said.

The busy season for the events business is March through October, largely following the seasons. And during that window, the company’s four dispatchers coordinate the delivery, setup and cleanup for 100 to 200 events a weekend in the North Bay.

With multiple truck docks, the new building in Windsor will become the hub for the company’s fleet of 35 trucks currently spread between locations in Healdsburg, Petaluma and St. Helena. The new facility also will house the linen and dishwashing crews and equipment plus woodshop for production of custom items such as tables and bars. But with the ability to install tall racking, the facility will allow storage and better inventory of thousands of event “products”: tents, tabletop features, dance floors, glasses, place settings, tables and chairs.

“The hospitality and events sector has continued to grow,” Doherty said. Annual revenue growth has been 10% to 20% in recent years.

“We were prepared for 2018 to be a slow year” because of the massive October 2017 wildfires, she said. Tourism figures for Napa and Sonoma counties took a sizable dip in the few months afterward but rebounded later last year. “It ended up being another busy year for us.”

Not only are there more varied outdoor events locations outside of hotels and traditional meeting places, client demands have changed with the popularization of “design style” by Instagram influencers and television remodeling shows is setting trends for the events business.

So added to the products list Encore must have on hand include décor items such as votive candles and bulky lounge furniture like sofas.

Weddings and winery events have been the big drivers of the events business in recent years, Doherty said. Direct-to-consumer sales such as tasting rooms and club member pick-up has grown in importance for North Coast vintners in the past two decades with shrinking margins and increased competition in distribution channels.

A big concern for business growth is staffing, Doherty said. The company has 120 to 175 on staff throughout the year, plus 50 to 60 seasonal workers. While Encore provides remote kitchens and equipment, caterers and beverage providers such as wineries and breweries supply their own servers.

Though Encore itself came into existence in 2010, its history goes back to 1978 with Doherty’s father, Pat Doherty. That’s when he started Petaluma Rental Center, catering mostly to homeowners. In 1987, farm and construction equipment company Cal-West Rentals was acquired. Bridget Doherty joined in 2001, and her younger brother Tyler came on board in 2007.

In 2010 under the leadership of the siblings, the events business was split off with the acquisition of The Special Event from Aaction Rents in Healdsburg.

Airport Business Center is the developer of the business park where Encore’s building is being constructed in Windsor. The project general contractor is Windsor-based Pacatte Construction.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Contact him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.

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