by Richard Cawthorne
Jonathan Groman, director of TENT-Events
Jonathan Groman of Tent-Events was happily doing his thing as a DJ one day when someone asked him to source a marquee for a function. Checking out what was available, he realised something was missing. “I realised there was a gap in the market,” he says now, eight years later. “The companies I looked at just weren’t finishing off the job to a high enough spec.
“On top of that, they weren’t around at weekends to fix any problems that might come up. I ended up buying half of the marquee company I was using at the time and so Tent-Events was born and it expanded from there.”
As with the DJ business, Groman – who is also known as JohnnyG. and will be 40 next month – is the first to tell you there is more to putting things under canvas than meets the eye. He has built his business catering to what he describes as a “very special niche market” based around north London and Hertfordshire made up of people who call him to help with anything from a Kiddush to engagement parties, weddings and bar and batmitzvahs. Also very popular, he adds with a smile, is the 40th birthday party, along with christenings, charity events, exhibitions and shows.
His client list is not only impressive but eclectic, ranging from United Synagogues to Seed, Shabbat UK, Allianz Park, Pitney Bowes, the US National Football League (NFL) and the Dallas Cowboys. Since Tent-Events can also supply cocktail bars and associated tables and chairs – what Groman calls “chill-out furniture” – there are other well-known event companies in London on the list, too.
Despite the company name, Groman’s forte is not your average bit of weatherproof shelter with a couple
of sleeping bags inside. His business is marquees – capable of accommodating and entertaining private and corporate guests in groups of anything from 40 to 500, with all the bells and whistles, such as lighting and decorations necessary to ensure everyone has a good time.
The structures come in three basic forms – Big Tops, as in the circus; modern marquees, otherwise known to the initiated as framed clear-span models, and the Chinese Hat, used mostly to create a separate focal point away from the main event.
Tent-Events can also supply all the necessary extras, such as carpets, dance floors, lights, linings, heating and furniture. Put it all together and you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in a top hotel suite instead of in your garden. The boss will even help out with the music, having kept his hand in as a DJ and with a list of three others on whom to call.
And the venues don’t have to be just gardens. Groman lists among his anecdotes the time he closed off Savile Row in London to accommodate one of his marquees for a fashion show by the designer Ozwald Boateng. He not only met the man himself but spent a bit of time escorting Joan Collins, whom he describes as “a wonderful woman,” round the event. For all that, however, he lists his “most special” memory as “putting together the first Challah Bake-Off at Allianz Park for 3,500 people and having the Chief Rabbi standing under our banners smiling at me – it really was a beautiful evening”.
Groman, married to wife Emma and with a four-year-old daughter called Alicia, is not the only one who thinks Tent-Events knows what it is talking about. The company website has some powerful endorsements from satisfied customers, not least Brian Pearl of Northwood & Pinner Synagogue, who praised Tent-Events for “a really fantastic result in the supply of the marquee for our High Holy Day services”. John Clifford of Pitney Bowes Europe says the company was “helpful and responsive …the event ran like clockwork…it was a pleasure to work with them”.
So what is the key to this success? Groman acknowledges the “sterling work” of his PA, Lauren Gordon. “I’m the only Jewish boy to own a marquee company,” adds the former Radlett Prep and Watford Grammar School pupil. “Also, we own all our furniture, a lot of which I like to design myself, plus cocktail bars, lighting and the rest. And we make sure we do a good job – it’s especially rewarding to see clients’ faces when they have a vision of how they would like their simchas to be and
I make them come to life.”
A member of Finchley Reform Synagogue, Groman is also active among Jewish charities, including Myisrael, ZAKA UK, Jewish Care, Ravenswood and others, and says he is always happy to help. That gap in the market looks pretty close to being filled.
• Details: www.tent-events.co.uk