Company History at Special Events Virginia
We thought you might be interested to learn more about our fascinating company history...
In 1980, Bob Hanbury purchased the nation’s second-built miniature golf course. He formed Pro-Putt of Virginia, which is the corporation that later became Special Events Entertainment, Inc. As Bob ran the miniature golf course, he looked for other business opportunities. On President Day weekend 1983, Alpine Ski Rentals opened. Alpine Ski rented skiing equipment and sold accessories. Eventually, it became apparent that Alpine Ski had to move into the travel business and in the fall of 1983, Alpine Ski Tours started running bus trips to the local ski resorts. Alpine Ski Tours focused primarily on group travel and in particular Youth, Church, and corporate groups. Alpine Ski Tours always remained focused on service. Eventually, Alpine Ski Tours grew to be the largest ski tour broker on the East Coast.
In the fall of 1987, Bob decided to start another summer business of renting inflatable amusements. In June 1988, the corporation started trading as Special Events Rentals. The business was started with two moonwalks, the Mama Dragon and the Mr. Big Eyes, and a popcorn machine. Our first client was First Hospital Corp. in Portsmouth for their company picnic. It was during this picnic that Bob realized the scope of the industry. As the business grew, Bob saw the need for Special Events to expand into other types of rentals including tables, chairs, and eventually tents. For the first three years of the company, all profits were reinvested in new equipment.
Mike Fitzwater started with the company at age 16. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in 1991, he joined Special Events full-time in January 1992. From 1992 until 1995, Special Events saw a 20% growth every year. In 1995, it became clear that the corporation needed new facilities. That year, Special Events closed the mini-golf operation and built a 4200 square foot warehouse on the property. In 2001, an office expansion was completed taking the office to 3600 square feet. In 2003, a second warehouse was completed, adding another 4800 square feet of warehouse space. As revenues grew, inventory of tents and other equipment expanded. Alpine Ski Tours was sold in 2005 to a competitor.
In December 2009, a search began looking for a new facility. In early 2010, the property at 2211 Elliott Ave in Portsmouth was purchased. The property provided Special Events with a 76,000 square foot, 8-acre facility with the space needed to continue expansion and future growth. In the spring of 2012, Special Events completed the installation of its canvas washing machine and drying system. Today, Special Events Virginia is an event rental service company with over 30 employees and annual revenues around $3,000,000.