Originally from Staten Island, NY, Robert Ross, Owner of Bounce Party Rentals, moved with his family at a young age to Volusia County. He spent time as a restaurant manager and a retail manager before finding success in real estate. In 2006, when the economy showed signs of an impending collapse, he was laid off from his position with Hammock Beach Real Estate. Following a rehire for a local golf tournament, Ross knew he needed to make contingency plans.
"I knew another layoff was coming," he said. "Around this same time, my brother-in-law was working for a party rental company. They weren't storing their equipment properly and he was growing increasingly frustrated and embarrassed while delivering the equipment. We got to talking and decided that we could do a better job if we started our own business."
Ross shared that the first step was deciding which equipment to buy. Ross' brother-in-law, Shane, is also a school teacher. This gave the two partners an opportunity, to not only provide their services to Shane's school and others, but to also learn first-hand what the kids wanted. They started with five pieces of equipment stored in Ross' garage. At the time, Ross would deliver bounce houses and slides on the roof of his car. Over time, they expanded their inventory and moved into a warehouse. As the business grew, so did the challenges.
"There was definitely a learning curve, but the biggest challenge was balancing the growth of the business," Ross said. "We had to find the right balance between paying ourselves and investing our earnings back into the business. There were also some trial and error things we had to learn the hard way."
Today, Bounce Party Rentals has 80 units, down from a high of over 100. According to Ross, who's now the sole owner of the company, the quality of equipment from one supplier to another is significant. To that end, he's eliminated rarely used equipment to instead focus on what's in demand. This, along with great customer service and an emphasis on cleanliness, has helped Bounce Party Rentals stand out from the competition.
"I would say the number one thing we do better than other businesses is the way we clean and maintain our equipment," Ross said. "Our inflatables are very durable, kid safe, 100% cleaned and sanitized in-between every rental. We're also fully licensed and insured and all of our employees undergo very strict background checks so you can feel safe when working with Bounce Party Rentals."
Looking ahead, Ross, despite experiencing a significant downturn in business related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, is optimistic about the future. He's focused on maintaining his current size and continuing to provide the exceptional service his customers have come to expect.
What advice does Ross have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Be ready to work hard and wear many hats," he said. "Also, the more you can do for yourself in the beginning, the higher your chance of success will be."