Abbey Event Services Burbank, Calif.

Top Officer: Martin Hubbard

Phone: 818/569-3838 Web site: www.abbeyrents.com

Number of Employees: 175 Number of Locations: 4

What's Now, What's Next: To meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated and business-minded event professional, Abbey Event Services has shifted its mission into serving as an "event services" company. "Our focus is to be a one-stop resource providing a broad range of logistical support," the company says. Over the past 18 months, Abbey has added two new locations, one of which includes a large tenting/structures operation and a full-service entertainment lighting division. The company plans to keep building the knowledge base of its employees, add additional products and services, and expand into other geographical markets soon.

Be Our Guest Boston

Top Officer: Albert Lovata

Phone: 617/427-2700

Number of Employees: 70

Number of Locations: 1

What's Now, What's Next: One of New England's premier suppliers of high-end tabletop items, Be Our Guest has just introduced three new china patterns. The firm serves as the New England representative for luxury rental products from Los Angeles-based Unique Event Resource.

Celebration Party Rentals Flemington, N.J.

Top Officers: Megan Jones, Matt Holt

Phone: 908/735-7368

Web site: www.celebrationpartyrental.com

Number of Employees: 34

Number of Locations: 1

What's Now, What's Next: "CPR is always expanding and looking for new ways to improve our service through new marketing techniques, internal restructuring, quality and depth of inventory, and a bigger fleet of trucks," says president Megan Jones. "We have promoted three people this year and plan on additional promotions. Incidentally, rental is a male-dominated world, and the three key people we promoted were women."

Chicago Party Rental Countryside, Ill.

Top Officer: Ben Shipper III

Phone: 800/322-5868

Web site: www.chicagopartyrental.com

Number of Employees: 85

Number of Locations: 1

What's Now, What's Next: Established in 1967 as a general rental franchise, Chicago Party Rental currently operates out of a 55,000-square-foot showroom and office. It was named a finalist for the Illinois Small Family Business of the Year in 1998. "Our continued success is based on our reputation of personalized service and going that extra mile to make our customers' special events nothing short of extraordinary," says president Ben Shipper III.

Christian Party Rental Hollis, N.H.

Top Officer: Leo Gould

Phone: 603/883-5326

Web site: www.intents.com

Number of Employees: 60

Number of Locations: 1

What's Now, What's Next: Serving the greater Boston area since 1936, Christian Party Rental services two Winston Cup races each year. Its specialty: a broad tent inventory.

Grand Rental Station

Memphis, Tenn.

Top Officer: Stan White

Phone: 901/366-0670

Web site: www.grandrentals.com

Number of Employees: 35

Number of Locations: 2

What's Now, What's Next: Grand Rental Station operates three divisions: Party Central Rental and Sales, Grand Events and Expos, and Grand Events and Tents. The company opened a second location in August in Bartlett, Tenn.; it will open a third next spring. It recently completed the renovation of its 4,000-square-foot showroom in Memphis, Tenn.

Hall's Rental Service Lincolnwood, Ill.

Top Officers: Jack and Tom Luft

Phone: 847/982-9200

Number of Employees: 150

Number of Locations: 1

What's Now, What's Next: Hall's Rental Service is shipping greater quantities of upgraded party equipment throughout the Midwest, reflecting customers' willingness to spend for quality, notes vice president Jack Luft.

Hollywood Party Rentals Inglewood, Calif.

Top Officers: Mark Henderson, Steve Hand, Bryan Phelps

Phone: 310/680-1500

Number of Employees: 52

Number of Locations: 2

What's Now, What's Next: Now in its fifth year, Hollywood Party Rentals plans expansion into two new warehouses, a 25 percent increase in the truck fleet and broadening the product line to 40,000 square feet of props.

Party Place Nashville, Tenn.

Top Officer: Carlton Baker

Phone: 615/641-1111

Number of Employees: 63

Number of Locations: 2

What's Now, What's Next: Boasting "the largest inventory of complete party equipment in Tennessee," Party Place just celebrated its one-year anniversary at its new 31,500-square-foot corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. With a second location at 40,500 square feet plus two offsite ware-houses, the company operates more than 80,000 square feet of offices, showrooms and warehouse facilities.

Party Pleasers (U-Rent Inc.) Camarillo, Calif.

Top Officer: Robert Arbon

Phone: 805/482-0335

Number of Employees: 16

Number of Locations: 4

What's Now, What's Next: In addition to its headquarters showroom in Camarillo, Calif., Party Pleasers has recently opened a new showroom in Simi Valley, Calif. "Our inventory is growing as we find ourselves handling more large scale events," the company says.

Partytime Productions Chicago

Top Officer: James Gallagher

Phone: 773/277-2600

Web site: www.partytimeproductions.com

Number of Employees: 25

Number of Locations: 1

What's Now, What's Next: Tension tents are the new trend in tent rental: "These tents meet high-wind criteria and at the same time maintain attractive lines," the company reports. Officers also predict a move toward using lighting-from chandeliers to natural light coming through window sidewalls-to boost the impact of tented events.

Pedersen's Rentals Burnaby, B.C., Canada

Top Officer: Bill Pedersen

Phone: 604/324-7368

Web site: www.pedersens.com

Number of Employees: 35

Number of Locations: 2

What's Now, What's Next: Pedersen's celebrated its 50th anniversary recently in a new 30,000-square-foot warehouse, a complement to its 3,500-square-foot showroom. The company is expanding its line with specialty linen; total inventory now tops 8,000 linens. Local trends: "extravagance and the golden age of entertaining. People are spending a lot of money on decor and events again," the company says.

Service Party Rentals New York

Top Officer: Lance York

Phone: 212/288-7384

Number of Employees: 50

Number of Locations: 2

What's Now, What's Next: One of the original party rental companies in the Big Apple, Service Party Rentals recently opened a Southampton, N.Y., showroom under the name Hampton Parties serving Long Island's upscale communities. Over the past five years, the company has doubled its number of full-time employees and now occupies two warehouses for a total of 35,000 square feet. Come spring: a move to a larger showroom.

Special Events Fremont, Calif.

Top Officer: Bruce Monaco

Phone: 510/353-7400

Number of Employees: 75

Number of Locations: 2

What's Now, What's Next: Look for the debut of an upscale china line plus a move to larger headquarters next year, the company says.

Wheaton Party Rentals Beltsville, Md.

Top Officer: Eric Goldberg

Phone: 301/937-7600

Web site: www.weparty.com

Number of Employees: 80

Number of Locations: 1 (with 2 satellite showrooms)

What's Now, What's Next: A move last year to a new warehouse gave Wheaton Party Rentals a total of 60,000 square feet of space. The company now manufactures its own linens and chair covers, offering a total of 300 patterns and styles delivered along the East Coast from Florida to New York.

Air Ball Inc. Boone, N.C.

Top Officer: Dana Addison

Phone: 888/538-5867

Number of Employees: 5

Number of Locations: 1

Main Rental Line: Inflatables, recreation equipment

What's Now, What's Next: Air Ball's newest game is the Psycho Swing, which literally has guests spinning at a height of 20 feet-and it's a hit, the company says.

Amusement Rentals by J&J

Sterling, Va.

Top Officer: J. Danny Heath

Phone: 703/450-2797

Web site: www.amusement-rentals.com

Number of Employees: 7 full-time, 50 total

Number of Locations: 1

Main Rental Line: Games, props, entertainers

What's Now, What's Next: According to company owner/sales and marketing director J. Danny Heath, trends in entertainment rental include "teamwork theme parties and motivational events." Amusement Rentals' future rental offerings will include casino equipment and a rock-climbing wall.

BBJ Linen Skokie, Ill.

Top Officer: Judith Goldberg

Phone: 847/329-8400

Web site: www.bbjlinen.com

Number of Employees: 100

Number of Locations: 8

Main Rental Line: Table linens, chair covers

What's Now, What's Next: BBJ Linen recently added sales representatives in Seattle and St. Louis and continues to support showrooms in Atlanta, Nashville, Tenn., Orlando, Fla., and Phoenix as well as sales representatives in Detroit, Dallas and Los Angeles. Company vice president Jim Buckman says that "elegant fashion and style, customer service, and wide selection continue to be major trends in specialty linen rental."

Carmen's Tablecloths North Miami Beach, Fla.

Top Officer: Carmen Chadwick

Phone: 305/655-3337

Number of Employees: 3

Number of Locations: 1

Main Rental Line: Linens, chair covers, napkins, skirts

What's Now, What's Next: Carmen's Tablecloths recently renovated its showroom "with customer service in mind," the company says.

De Boer Structures Atlanta (U.S. headquarters)

Top Officer (U.S.): Irene De Boer

Phone: 404/885-9699

Number of Employees: 500

Number of Locations: 9

Main Rental Line: Temporary structures

What's Now, What's Next: The newest item from this tenting giant is the Millennium Dome, which can accommodate "dining for 3,000 and showcase presentations and parties," notes general manager Irene De Boer.

Fun Productions Aurora, Colo.

Top Officer: Tim Abbott

Phone: 303/337-2654

Web site: www.funproductions.com

Number of Employees: 13 regular,

20 seasonal

Number of Locations: 2

Main Rental Line: Inflatables, carnival/casino/sports games, concessions

What's Now, What's Next: Fun Productions will be moving to a bigger warehouse/office by year-end, says president Tim Abbott. The new venue "will offer a couple of party rooms where our clients can hold their events on site," he says. Abbott predicts a trend toward "custom-made specialty games and attractions to meet our clients' vision of the perfect event."

Linen Effects Richfield, Minn.

Top Officer: Don Jensen

Phone: 612/861-1105

Number of Employees: 10

Number of Locations: 1

Main Rental Line: Table linens and accessories

What's Now, What's Next: Linen Effects has come out with "dozens of new patterns and fabrics" as well as new tabletop items over the past year, notes vice president of operations Kurt Silton. At present, the company is on the lookout for a bigger venue in the Minneapolis metro area to house its growing inventory of linens and tabletop items.

Mediaco The Presentation Co. Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Top Officer: James Brett

Phone: 604/871-1000

Web site: www.mediaco-inc.com

Number of Employees: 23

Number of Locations: 1

Main Rental Line: Audiovisual, Web-casting

What's Now, What's Next: This past year, MediaCo launched Online Broadcasting.Com, designed for live Internet broadcasting at conventions, media conferences, meetings and product launches.

SculptChair Scottsdale, Ariz.

Top Officer: Mitchell Kelldorf

Phone: 800/872-2750

Web site: www.sculptchair.com

Number of Employees: 23

Number of Locations: 1

Main Rental Line: Chair covers, linens

What's Now, What's Next: New "Pop Top" tablecloth and chair cover styles will be available in January 2000, the company promises.

Total Rebound San Francisco

Top Officer: John Wilkinson

Phone: 707/748-0117

Web site: www.totalrebound.com

Number of Employees: 80

Number of Locations: 4

Main Rental Line: Interactive games and amusements

What's Now, What's Next: Among the new products offered next year will be five team-building adventures. Total Rebound has signed a deal with Disney to design and build games for its regional entertainment group.