If you’ve ever attended a wedding, a graduation party or a Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival event, chances are you’ve used a product from Tim Maloney’s company.

Maloney is the second-generation, award-winning owner of Canton Chair Rental, one of the most recognizable businesses in Stark County.

The roots of the company at 4850 Southway Street SW go back to 1972, when Maloney’s late dad, Bob, returned to Stark County from Houston, where he was working as a comptroller for Bud Adams, an oil tycoon who also owned the Houston Oilers.

“My dad’s family had a car dealership, Maloney Motors, where the Nationwide building is today,” Tim Maloney said. “My uncle talked my dad into moving back from Houston in the 1960s. But my uncle passed away, and my dad decided to buy a franchise, Taylor Rental. He was an accountant who knew nothing about garden tools and decided to wing it.”

Maloney said that he and his mother were the first employees.

“Nobody had any idea what a sod-cutter was,” he said, laughing. “Every time you opened a box, it was like Christmas; you never knew what you’d find. I was a junior in high school. I helped in summers and whenever I could.”

Maloney joined the family business after graduating from then-Mount Union College in 1977. He later earned a master’s in business administration from Kent State University.

In 1985, the Maloneys divided the company into two divisions and bought out the inventory of Canton Chair and Table Co.

“My dad ran the tool rentals,” Maloney said.

They moved to the current site in 2000. Today, Canton Chair Rental has 15 part-time employees and hires up to 70 seasonal workers during the summer months.

Maloney said he couldn’t readily list how many events the company services every year, including providing 5,000 chairs for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Grand Parade.

In 1998, Maloney served as the festival’s General Chairman.

“The festival and enshrinement are our biggest singular events,” he said. “But we’re just as busy in June, with a combination of corporate events and a lot of homeowner stuff such as weddings and graduations. We’re actually busier and put more miles on our trucks in June than during the Hall of Fame time.”

Maloney is a committed community volunteer, serving on local and national boards, including the American Rental Association, the Stark County Visitors and Convention Bureau, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and Trillium Family Solutions.

Eighty-five percent of Canton Chair Rental’s business is in and around Stark County.

“We go as far as Ashland and north of Akron; it all depends,” Maloney said. “We’ve also shipped chairs to Michigan and West Virginia.”

The most popular items? “Chair, tables, tents and linen,” Maloney said.

The most surprising item available? “A large Santa chair,” he said. “We also have ‘Quebbie,’ which is a DJ in a box. It’s similar to MP3 players, but easier. It’s more popular with the adults than the kids.”

Maloney said business has been fairly steady, adding that being diverse helped Canton Chair Rental weather the local economy’s ups and downs. Some friends with large-event companies, he said, have gone under.

“We’ve definitely felt the impact of the economy,” he said. “It’s a discretionary spending item. Weddings were hit-and-miss when a lot of them were budgeted by mom and dad. They toned it down.”

Maloney is a two-time winner of the American Rental Association’s Meritorious Service Award, and the company has been awarded the Region 5 Outstanding Service Award. In 2001, Canton Chair Rental was nationally recognized with an American Rental Association Rental Excellence award. It also has received a SCOPE award from the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“The industry has been good to me,” Maloney said. “It’s not without its challenges; it’s hard to be a small business, but you’ve gotta look on the positive. Some great things are happening.”

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Charita Goshay

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