Business Spotlight: Arena Americas

All The World’s a Stage for Arena Americas

Imagine you’re in charge of planning your child’s high school graduation party. Where – and how – will you comfortably entertain all of the family and friends that will attend this special occasion?

Now imagine you’re in charge of planning the U.S. Open Championship and need to host the world’s most elite golfers and thousands of spectators for this weeklong sporting event.

Did you know that an Oak Creek business, Arena Americas, can handle both? Arena Americas isn’t just a supplier of tents, but everything to fill them, from tables and chairs to linens and glassware. And a walk through their new headquarters in the Oakview Business Park demonstrates there is nothing simple about this company’s work.

In 2013, Arena Group, an event solutions business based in the United Kingdom, expanded to the U.S. with the acquisition of Karl’s Event Services. Karl’s was founded in 1964 in Milwaukee as a full-service equipment and party store. They moved their operations to 10th Street in Oak Creek in 1996 and set up a design and manufacturing facility on Bell Court several years later. As the business grew, so did their reputation, establishing them as one of the top event-rental companies in the country.

Joining forces with Arena Group was a natural fit. “Arena Americas is a local company with national and global horsepower,” states Matt Holt, vice president of commercial operations, “We haven’t forgotten our roots.”

Combined with their coast-to-coast branch locations in Illinois, Florida, California and New Jersey, Arena Americas employs approximately 500 people, a number that increases to 650 during peak event season with the hiring of temporary help. Locally, 165 people work out of their Oak Creek facility.

When the company began to outgrow its existing footprint, they had no intention of leaving the area, and ultimately found an ideal location for a brand-new facility in Oak Creek. The new 105,000 sq.-ft. facility at 10861 S. Howell Ave. allows the company to house their entire Midwest operation under one roof for the first time, with room for growth.

As soon as you enter the lobby of the building, your vision is drawn to the impeccably staged showroom of “Well Dressed Tables,” the newest division of Arena Americas. Featuring an assortment of coordinated chairs and tables accented by colorful linens, and set with beautiful china, glassware, and flatware, these real-life examples of their offerings provide immediate inspiration for a client’s dream event.

However, the nerve center of the business is the enormous warehouse that serves as storage for the more than 27,000 types of products and components Arena Americas offers. If looking at the showroom isn’t enough to inspire you, a glance around the tall rows of shelves – which contain everything from pallets of glassware to stacks of chairs and bundles of tent vinyl – just might. But despite the sheer quantity of items required for a successful event, the building layout provides for easy retrieval and staging of each job’s materials. Having space dedicated to this function improves the accuracy of the order and ensures that it will be loaded into the truck correctly for safe travel – two elements that ultimately translate to a better experience for their customers.

The warehouse space serves several other essential functions necessary for the goal of customer satisfaction. Industrial-size washing machines and dishwashers clean used linens and tableware after an event. A state-of-the-art flat panel washing machine cleans the hundreds of thousands of square feet of tent vinyl in the company’s inventory. After each job, the tents are washed and then suspended from the ceiling, with rigging resembling a large sailboat, to dry. Each piece is then inspected, graded and put back on the shelf, so they are ready for use by
the next customer.

Temporary structures are the cornerstone of Arena Americas’ business today. With tents ranging in size from 10 by 10 feet and up to 200 feet wide, they have temporary structures for any event. With accent lighting, flooring and climate control solutions readily available, however, these spaces look and feel anything but temporary!

In addition to the traditional pole tents that most people are familiar with, Arena Americas also offers spacious clearspan tents that create a wide-open space ideal for a special event or to cover a large item, such as an airplane. With an in-house design and manufacturing operation known as Eventec, the company can design and produce custom structures of all sizes, to suit a customer’s specific needs.

One such design, the temporary event space built for the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island in New York, currently holds two Guinness World Records. The massive serpentine clearspan structure, a quarter of a mile in length, was named the largest single-unit marquee in 2012; the 275,000 sq. ft. of flooring that the structure was installed on set a record for the largest temporary stage.

Arena Americas has also received numerous industry awards, including last year’s Gala Award for Best Achievement in Event Rental Support for their work at the 99th Annual PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C. Their installations have been part of countless large-scale events across the country including New York Fashion Week, the Kentucky Derby, the Chicago Marathon, Lollapalooza and the Super Bowl.

Closer to home, Arena Americas has had a hand in the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary Celebration, Summerfest, the EAA AirVenture, the Green Bay Packers Tundra Tailgate Zone, and perhaps even your child’s high school graduation party.

“Yes, Arena Americas does all of those large events,” states Holt, “but if you need a rack of glasses, or if you’re doing a first birthday party in your house, or if you need a backyard tent for a small wedding . . . that same company is right here for you in Oak Creek. You can walk in the door and sit down with someone who can help you create a perfect experience. Every event we do is of equal value to us, and is going to receive the same commitment from us.”

Paul Bryant, Arena Americas’ CEO, credits an engaged workforce for this start-to-finish commitment to customer satisfaction. A single event can involve 50 or more Arenas employees. “Our employees come \in each day with head, heart and hands in the game. Each person that touches an event contributes to the end goal,” he notes. Whether washing vinyl, stacking glasses, staging supplies, driving a truck, or setting up and taking down an installation, each staff member understands the importance of what they’re doing as part of the process.

“There is a satisfaction derived from creating an environment for good times,” observes Bryant, “We start with somebody’s vision – they know what they want, but not necessarily how to get there – and we take them to success. We get a chance to do this every single day.”

Are you interested in working for Arena Americas? Visit

Arena Americas
10861 S. Howell Ave. •