Richard LoGuercio feels as if he’s about to have a banner year.
His business, Town & Country Event Rentals – a Van Nuys-based operation that provides equipment and accessories for weddings, business conferences, wrap parties and movie premieres – is gearing up to meet pent-up demand for weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs on the horizon that could become the 30-year-old company’s most lucrative year yet.
“When Gov. (Gavin) Newsom said a month ago that we would be reopening June 15, it was like flipping a switch,” LoGuercio said. “This is going to be like the Roaring ‘20s.”
LoGuercio thought he had seen it all. His business has weathered all manner of peaks and valleys but never anything like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was nuclear,” said LoGuercio. “We went from record-breaking weeks with 817 full time employees. … Within two weeks from a record-breaking week USC grad scheduled 100 truckloads of stuff for a bunch of parties, everything was going smooth. After two weeks of cancellations, we did $400 in business.”
In brief, the business had tanked.
“When this thing hit, it wasn’t a big thing,” the business-owner said. “We all thought this was going to be over in a month or two. And then, all of a sudden, it just got bigger and bigger, and everything was being canceled. Then we started taking things seriously. This is something real.”
LoGuercio realized he had to make some unfortunate moves. First, he laid off 350 people. A week later, more layoffs.
“Then we laid off office staff,” he said, adding that only key people were retained.
“We probably had about five people in the office,” LoGuercio said. “Management stayed on. We had a skeleton crew in the back.”
When all was said and done, “we pretty much furloughed everyone,” he said. “The lowest we had was 25 people.”
LoGuercio unfortunately had to endure
“We have almost 140 trucks,” LoGuercio recalled. “That was a pain in the neck. We had to put them all in mothballs. We went down to 10 trucks.”
What LoGuercio called “fraudulent lawsuits” orchestrated by attorneys began dogging Town & Country.
“We had a lot of guys sue us,” he said. “We had 32 claims by the same (expletive) lawyer. He got a hold of our internal list. He was dialing for dollars.”
Then business began to pick up late last year in starts and fits.
“Last fall, we saw some rays of sunshine,” LoGuercio said. “There was a resurgence around Thanksgiving. Then it went down the toilet.”
When some of his former employees returned to work this year, LoGuercio said they had put on weight. And he had to listen to the difficulties his employees had endured during a trying year.
“I’ve turned into Dr. Phil,” LoGuercio said. “I feel like I’ve turned into a psychiatrist. I’ve been doing this for 50 years in the business and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Currently, LoGuercio has tried to get back as many former employees as he can.
“We’re still trying to get people back,” he said. “It’s costing us more money.”
Ironically, because of the coronavirus, this year has been off to a strong start as his company has met some demand from virus testing stations.
“We started getting these phone calls from government agencies, ‘We need 200 tents for testing at Dodger Stadium,’” he recalled regarding earlier this year.
Testing stations were followed by restaurants and hair salons.
“Then we got into the COVID rental equipment business,” he said.
The downturn forced LoGuercio and his team to adapt. At one point, they started building hand-sanitizing stations and plexiglass dividers.
“It was like when Ford used to build cars and then all of a sudden World War II hit and they started building tanks,” he said.