MU alumnus’ tent company has Olympics covered

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Tents, such as the one below, were set up all over Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Games by Karl's Event Rental, a Milwaukee area company. Marquette alumnus Ronald Creten, as Karl's senior executive vice president, has handled many of the company's responsibilities at the Olympics.

For an athlete to reach Olympic status, it takes preparation, drive and a love for the sport. Marquette alumnus Ronald Creten isn’t an athlete, but he’s been just as determined to excel at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Creten, a 1970 graduate of the College of Business Administration, is senior executive vice president of Karl’s Event Rental, a Milwaukee rental company that is the official tent supplier at the Vancouver Olympic sites.

Creten said Karl’s has provided more than 650 tent structures costing anywhere from $1,000 to $500,000 to manufacture.

The company landed the role in 2008, according to a Milwaukee Business Journal story. For Karl’s, the 2010 Olympics were a golden opportunity.

“The experience has been challenging, but good,” Creten said. “The Vancouver Organizing Committee was very happy with the job we did.”

Karl’s employs 425 people at its five U.S. locations in Milwaukee, New York, Houston, Orlando and Frederick, Md. Creten said only a few Karl’s workers are now in Vancouver, as it can be a challenge to get everyone there. The company has hired temporary workers from Canada to assist in the company’s operations, he said.

This isn’t the first time Karl’s has garnered national headlines. After Hurricane Ike ravished Texas communities in 2008, Karl’s constructed tented villages with more than 500,000 square feet of tenting, portable floors, and laundry and shower trailers for 14,000 relief workers in Louisiana and Texas.

Saz’s State House Restaurant of Milwaukee joined with Karl’s at one such village in assisting with relief efforts. Saz’s provided three meals a day to 500 utility workers, said Joe Brueggemann, Saz’s catering director.

“The experience was fantastic,” Brueggemann said. “It was a completely empty field and (Karl’s) came in and set up a huge sleeping tent, deck flooring, and dining tents. … Basically, (workers) could have called this area home.”

Creten said the U.S. military hired the Karl’s team to set up structures for soldiers in Kuwait. The company has also set up air conditioned and padded tents, helping cut down on energy costs, at Ft. Irwin, Calif.

Karl’s also supplied tents for this month’s Super Bowl in Miami, and has been a supplier for Fashion Week in Miami, New York and Los Angeles for the past nine years.

Even as he leads Karl’s into national and international business, Creten doesn’t forget his home base.

In Milwaukee, Karl’s has set up structures for Marquette, events at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Tents, such as the one below, were set up all over Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Games by Karl's Event Rental, a Milwaukee area company. Marquette alumnus Ronald Creten, as Karl's senior executive vice president, has handled many of the company's responsibilities at the Olympics.

and weddings and backyard parties.

“Being the supplier for the Olympics is a great opportunity, but we take pride in all of our events,” Creten said.

Linda Salchenberger, dean of the College of Business Administration, said in an e-mail Creten’s story is a great example of the achievements of Marquette alumni. She knows him from his work as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council.

Salchenberger said he is a role model to Marquette business students.

“Ron is an outstanding alumnus who exhibits the qualities of responsible business leadership that will help our future graduates succeed.

“We have 20,000 successful business alumni and they are truly making an impact in the business world. It is my belief that there is something special happening here,” Salchenberger said.

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