Southern Events Celebrates 20 Years!

May 08, 2024 at 01:15 pm by RMGadmin

Cheers to 20 Years! 
By Anna Robertson Ham
When someone asks me for the best event rental referrals, I have the same answer every time: Southern Events Party Rental Company. The reputation they have built in their two decades of serving Williamson County and surrounding areas, is earned and respected. They not only have a reputable business, but they are devoted to giving back to the community in profound ways as well. The commitment that an event will run without a hitch is their team’s priority, and that all stems from the owners’ passion for what they do.
 Chip and Jill Cole, owners of Southern Events Party Rental Company, began brainstorming about starting a business together back in 2004. “I have always had a passion for events and mentioned I might enjoy something like that or even event rentals,” explains Jill. “Neither of us knew anyone in the rental business or really anything about it, but decided to pursue it further.” One of Jill’s friends was getting married in the summer of 2004, so they asked her if she would rent chairs from them if they purchased them. “To be honest there wasn’t really an elaborate plan to start we just decided to do it, jumped all in and took it one day at a time until we started to figure things out. We are both extremely hard workers and risk takers.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and take the plunge. Don’t overthink things or make them too complicated. I think sometimes just starting is the hardest part,” Jill says.
They began storing items in their garage, eventually filling up a guest bedroom with dishes and glasses. After receiving a $10,000 home equity line from a bank in town, they bought 300 folding chairs and twenty sixty-inch round tables. “We only had a few items to rent initially, so to stay competitive and to gain new clients, we had to spend most of our income sub-renting things from other companies to be able to fulfill orders. We didn’t make any money for a long time,” says Jill. “We both worked our corporate jobs while we let Southern build slowly. This gave us time to figure things out, and if it didn’t work out, we both had jobs to fall back on. We bought new inventory as we could. Things finally took off in the fall of 2006, and we both went full-time in 2007.”
Jill says that, for several years, Southern Events’ offices and showroom were based out of CJ’s off the Square. “CJ was one of the first clients I met and is still one of my biggest clients today, after twenty years,” she says. “We have been in our current location off Alpha Drive since 2011 and purchased the building in 2016. This building has been the ‘hub’ of our operations for many years and the part that clients are familiar with.
However, as you can imagine, it takes quite a bit of space to operate at the level we are at. We have two additional warehouses that house most of our inventory, trucks and additional staffing, and we currently employ around seventy people.”
Since 2004, Jill and Chip have built a culture of exceptional customer service and say that their staff is truly invested. “I could give hundreds of examples over the years of things our staff has done to go above and beyond to help people. And they do it instinctively without even having to ask,” she says. “It goes back to the old saying: ‘Take care of your people and they will take care of you.’ They know how much Chip and I appreciate all of them and that reflects on how they take care of our clients. We have many employees who have been with us for over ten years. They know I would never ask them to do something that we weren’t willing to do ourselves. We spend a lot of time together and I truly think of our staff as family.”
Over the years, the events rental industry has evolved from cookie-cutter to much more elaborate. “Now, the possibilities are endless, and clients have much higher expectations for how their events will look, and they want more customized options,” Jill says. “I find that following retail channels and the fashion industry can pretty much dictate where the event business will go. Rentals will always fall a little behind that because it takes manufacturers a while to catch up with the trends. We always ask our clients and ask them often, what they would like to see new for their events. We are also constantly bringing in new samples of rental inventory to test out in our showroom - it is a great way to get immediate feedback.”
When it comes to sharing advice to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start their own events rental business, Jill says be ready to work extremely hard as the business can be brutal. “This is one of the hardest types of business you can get into. It takes a huge amount of capital to grow the business and a ton of labor and staffing. I sometimes joke that we are in the labor business and do rentals on the side… it feels that way sometimes,” she says. “It took many years to get to where we are. I am so happy that we have never had to bring on partners or investors to build the business and we are extremely proud of that. Be patient, don’t pass up opportunities and take care of your staff first and foremost.”
Jill has helped with thousands of events over the past twenty years and has been part of some of the biggest moments of people’s lives. “I still love the feeling of bringing the events to life. I love getting compliments on our staff and I truly enjoy being able to provide jobs in our community to so many people,” she says. “We have worked with so many nonprofits over the years and it is incredible to be able to be a small part of the amazing things they do for our community. Franklin has so many things to offer to our community, it is truly a special place to live and own a business. And, yes, I love the freedom that being a business owner provides… I can’t leave that part out!”
Moving forward, the company’s goal is to have all its inventory and staffing under one roof, as it currently works out of three warehouse locations. “We have a few other surprises up our sleeves and can hopefully share some of those soon with our clients,” says Jill.
“To our Southern team and clients, this wouldn’t have been possible without you all,” says Jill. “We greatly appreciate each and every one of you. As I look back at our early days, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to so many wonderful people who have made all of this possible. Our friends and family were the first to jump in to help when we first started our business. That passion and willingness to help then translated into our outstanding team of dedicated employees - they are all truly unbelievable. And to our loyal clients over the years who have blessed us with so many opportunities and have been some of our biggest cheerleaders and supporters along the way: We are forever grateful for the trust you have and continue to put into us to handle your events every day. It is truly an honor. I can’t wait to see what the next twenty years bring!"
Congratulations to Jill, Chip and the entire team at Southern Events. You have built something special in our community and have been trusted friends and partners to YOUR Williamson over the years. We look forward to seeing what the next twenty years brings to you all, as well!

To learn more about Southern Events Party Rental Company, visit