B.C. Tent & Awning celebrates 40th anniversary

Jan. 17, 2021

Bob Costa, founder and president of B.C. Tent & Awning, Avon, Mass., began 2020 with optimism for the company’s continued growth and expansion, and for the approaching 40th anniversary of the business. Then the coronavirus (COVID-19) came along and changed the company’s trajectory in this milestone year. 

Because B.C. Tent was deemed an essential business, Costa never closed the company even as the state imposed stay-at-home restrictions. His decision to go “full steam ahead” proved to be a wise one. 

As the economy reacted to COVID-19, Costa’s company’s services were in demand. Restaurants, struggling with the concept of accommodating outdoor dining, turned to temporary tent rentals to meet their customers’ needs. COVID-19 testing sites sprang up at health care centers and outside of schools, and B.C. Tent helped set up these sites for testing, taking of temperatures and accommodating customers. 

Especially in this last year, Costa saw a significant increase in the use of clearspan tents, which are better suited for parking lots where it is preferred to have tents without a center pole and without stakes. 

“We were pleased to be able to help so many companies and institutions with these temporary tent needs,” Costa says. “So many of our typical client venues didn’t materialize — such as weddings, graduations, anniversaries and business conventions. It wasn’t the year we anticipated, but our team pulled together and we were able to meet the needs of the communities, for which we’re grateful.” 

As the company reached its 40th anniversary, Costa recalled how much the world has changed since the company got its start. In 1980, Jimmy Carter was president of the United States but would soon cede the position to Ronald Reagan. Gasoline sold for less than a $1 per gallon. Voyager 1 reached Saturn. A first-class stamp cost 15 cents. And, in that year, Costa began B.C. Tent & Awning out of a garage in his father’s house in Avon. 

The company grew quickly, and what started out as one tent has become one of the premier tent and party rental companies in Massachusetts. 

Originally from Avon, Costa, who now resides in Middleborough, Mass., worked for another tent company during his summers in high school and college, familiarizing himself with the industry and gaining valuable knowledge and experience. After getting out of school and working for someone else, he says, he decided to go out on his own. Initially, B.C. Tent was a part-time operation from his parents’ home. From that beginning point, he added a warehouse in Brockton, Mass., as the company’s customer base grew. In the mid-1990s. the business relocated the warehouse to a larger facility in Whitman, Mass. The company quickly outgrew this space and, in 2000, B.C. Tent purchased a 20,000-sq.-ft. building in the Avon Industrial Park where the company continues to operate today. In 2017, B.C. Tent & Awning Co. acquired Boston-based Boston Party Rental of Dorchester and Avon, expanding the company’s presence in the Boston market. 

Over its 40-year history, B.C. Tent has provided services for some very high-profile events. Some involved secret service; others were high-level celebrations. When the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, B.C. Tent pitched in to help keep the Rolling Rally a world-class event, with tenting that was ready for the VIP platforms in the event of inclement weather. In 2003, when the Pakistani president came to speak at one of the Boston universities, it was the B.C. Tent crew that put up the tent where the limousine stopped. B.C. Tent also provided tents for an event attended by former President George H.W. Bush.

In addition to tent rentals and furniture to go with rentals for all occasions, the company sells fabric storage shelters and custom awnings and is a one-stop for a number of the area’s universities, corporations of all sorts and event planners. 

“The year definitely did not go as we expected, but we are grateful to the businesses and organizations for trusting us to help them with their unique needs. And I am grateful to our team that pitches in day in and day out to help us meet our customers’ needs. I am optimistic that 2021 will be a better year for us all,” Costa says.

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