The founding of Higgins Event Rentals is the charming story of Denis and Peggy; high school sweethearts.
This husband and wife team who began a small and humble business in Toronto nearly 33 years ago, grew into a strong family of 4 sons and 1 daughter. And their legacy grew into a devoted family operation in Toronto with over 60 employees.
Founded as United Rent-All in 1982, their small business operated pretty much like a general rental store in Etobicoke’s Royal York Plaza. Taking over the space from a department store, they warehoused chain saws, cement mixers, baby cribs and other odd items for rent.
You may be surprised to learn that, at that time, only a fraction of their business offered dishes, glassware, cutlery, linen, tables and chairs. However, from their humble beginnings they eventually set a blistering pace focused on growth and become pioneers of the event rental industry in Toronto.
As part of their natural evolution, Denis found a buyer for the tool side of the company and the sale allowed the couple to focus on the growing needs of the “party rental” industry.
While it was their first foray into entrepreneurship, Denis had been a banker by trade and could handle operations and finance. Peggy would find herself to be the driving force, with the natural flare for design, purchasing and well harvested hospitality skills needed to deal with event planners, designers and producers.
As the company scaled up, the children became more and more involved. Mike, Dave & John worked in the family business almost from the beginning, starting with summers and weekends. They learned the business from the ground up.
Denis and Peggy consistently challenged the old model of event rentals by sourcing new designs, seeking out new products and setting new standards for the industry. When Denis & Peggy retired in 2000, the second generation of the Higgins family took over the helm of the company.
Throughout their years of growth, the company has relocated several times in favour of larger premises. More warehouse space allowed for more shipments and made way for larger items like party tents; an area of expertise for which the company has become renowned.
The Higgins business is a mainstay in the Toronto Event Rental industry. While some of the large event rental businesses in Toronto are owned by private equity firms, this family business is here to stay.
It has grown to 2 locations, 3 warehouses, 10 five ton trucks and 75 staff in the summer-time peak. Inventory now boasts over 1,800 event products.