By Marguerite Cleveland
Photo by Samantha Elise Tillman
Eddie Rogers Redman, president of Grand Event Rentals, comes from a long line of Washington pioneers. His great great grandfather, John Rankin Rogers, was the third governor of Washington state. His claim to fame was signing the bill establishing public schools in the state. His great grandfather, Edwin Rogers, founded the Rogers Company in Tacoma and was one of the founders of the Puyallup Fair. You can still find tins of School Boy Peanut Butter made by the company on collector websites.
Grand Event Rentals is a family business. Eddie’s 86-year-old father is the operations manager, and his oldest daughter, Jillian Musolf, serves as his office manager. Youngest daughter Brenna Redman is a talented event specialist, while son Kyle pitches in on his summer breaks from college. Eddie’s former spouse Kathy is also a partner in the business. Like many local businesses, Redman supports a variety of nonprofits, but the one that is dearest to his heart is Behind the Badge Foundation. The nonprofit serves the survivors after an officer has died or suffered serious injury. The foundation provides comprehensive support to Washington state’s law enforcement agencies, their families and the local community. This includes immediate funeral and living expenses for the family, and scholarships for families to attend grief support services. The group also manages the State Law Enforcement Memorial in Olympia by maintaining it and adding new names. In September 2020, when a wildfire burned the town of Malden to the ground, Eddie and his crew provided support. They donated the use of their trucks and provided tables and chairs to help support recovery efforts.
Despite the continuing pandemic, Grand Event Rentals has found unique ways to stay afloat while supporting their local community.
Q. With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting events and gatherings, what creative things have you done to keep your business afloat in these trying times? A. We were considered an essential business, so we never closed, although we did have a small staff answering phones and delivering orders. We set up some tents at various hospitals, drive-through test sites, and currently we have tents at restaurants, bars, wineries, churches, gyms and some government sites. We also created some special COVID-19 products and support items. We also follow and design all the COVID-19 protocols for our clients and our staff.
Q. Can you share with our readers how you got your start with events for the Olympics? A. Throughout the years I have done some major events with some major event people and was asked to work first for the Atlanta Summer Games and then again for the Salt Lake Winter Games. The Olympics are just a really big special event with some sports equipment thrown in the mix. LOL!
Q. You have been a part of some of the state's major events. Which was the most memorable for you? A. Actually, I have more than one. The Goodwill Games was the first major international sporting event to take place in our region. There were over 2,300 athletes from 54 countries competing in 21 sports. We provided all event sites with all their rental needs.
The Museum of Flight received an A-12, which was the early version of the SR-71 Blackbird. I personally worked directly with the Museum of Flight in building and designing a cover for the entire plane. Four Air Force lieutenants were standing at attention under the cover and red up lights and a fog machine were added for effect. It was incredible to watch as the cover flowed off the plane.
The Grand Opening of Benaroya Hall was all in a tent with a complete floor and carpet built directly in the street next to the hall, and it extended the entire block to accommodate the full sit-down dinner for more than 400 people. It went up in one day and down the next. Mt. Rainier’s 100th Anniversary was just an honor to help showcase a park that our nation had the ability to preserve and set aside for many generations. Being in the park after dark was an amazing experience that few get to see.
The Special Olympics USA Games were held all over the Puget Sound region and involved 4,000 athletes and coaches from 50 states and the District of Columbia competing in 14 sports.
Q. The Pacific Northwest is known for its changing weather. What are your tips for having a great outdoor event? A. Plan for everything, especially the rain, and then be pleasantly surprised. Bathrooms, trash, parking and power, you always need to plan for these. We have so many beautiful sites in this state. Use them.