Constant Diversification Is the Success Formula for the Gerami Family Business

Service Group of Louisiana helps Gulf Coast customers with party planning, disaster recovery and cleaning up any mess.

Constant Diversification Is the Success Formula for the Gerami Family Business

Employee Edward Chevalier pulling from the rental inventory to fill a customer order.

Growth has been the name of the game for the Service Group of Louisiana. The company, headquartered in Lafayette, is owned by Frank Gerami II and his son Frank Gerami III. From its roots as a party supply rental company in the 1990s, it has expanded into portable sanitation and solid waste management. Along with adding new service lines, about 10 years ago the company began an aggressive acquisition program, and since that time, the employee count has grown from 16 to 85. They’ve also expanded geographically and now have satellite offices along the Gulf Coast and the Interstate 10 corridor in Sulphur, as well as Beaumont and Pecos, Texas.

Because of the acquisitions and additional services, by 2016 things were getting a little unwieldy in Lafayette when they ended up operating out of four locations. The Geramis started floating the idea of bringing everything in that city together under one roof. In 2018 construction was completed on their new company headquarters.


Service Group provides equipment and supplies for everything from disaster recovery to the ultimate party. It is divided into three divisions operating under separate names, each with about 25 to 30 employees.

Party Central is the party supply rental company. It was started by the elder Gerami in 1995 when he and his partners sold their oil field inspection business. The company rents every type of party object from tables and dishes to dance floors and chandeliers. They also operate a storefront, open six days a week, so customers can stop by and rent items off the shelf.

“We do everything from weddings to sporting events, nonprofit fundraisers and air shows,” Frank Gerami III says. “We provide tents for Louisiana State University and the University of Louisiana for football season.” For larger events, a company representative stays on site to troubleshoot issues that may arise. The company is registered with many venues in the area, as well as wedding and event planners.

Event Solutions is the portable sanitation division. It was started in 2007 about the time the younger Gerami came on board when he left his job as an oil and gas landman to get away from life on the road. To get into it, they bought out the company they had been renting portable restrooms and trailers from.

Growth was explosive, and today they have 4,000 units (mostly PolyJohn and Satellite | PolyPortables — “in every color under the sun”), 35 restroom trailers (Advanced Containment Systems, Wells Cargo, Rich Specialty Trailers and Forest River), six shower trailers (Wells Cargo), two laundry trailers (company-built), two decontamination trailers (Advanced Containment Systems), and 25 vacuum trucks (Dodge 5500s, Ford F‑550s and Hinos built out by FlowMark Vacuum Trucks, Imperial Industries and Keith Huber and outfitted with Masport pumps). About half their work is for construction and industrial customers, the other half for events.

Deep South Containers is their solid waste management company. In 2014 the company purchased an existing business they had a working relationship with. “The opportunity came to get involved in that business and we saw it as a good fit with the services we offered, and to expand on those services,” Gerami III explains. Equipment includes 1,500 roll-off containers in sizes ranging from 10 to 40 yards from Roll Offs USA and Wastequip, with Galbreath hoists operating on Mack trucks. They also have 2-, 4-, 6- and 8-yard front-load containers for commercial waste (Roll Offs USA and Wastequip).


The three divisions are supported by about 15 shared office and administrative employees. Two computer software programs help them handle dispatch, routing and billing. Event Solutions and Deep South Containers use The Service Program (Westrom Software). Party Central uses Point of Rental Software, which is specifically designed for supply rental businesses. “It does everything — billing, dispatching, routing, inventory control, purchase orders — the whole 9 yards,” Gerami III says. They also use PartyCAD design software to facilitate planning of equipment and facility layouts. Technicians have company-supplied iPhones.

The marketing staff is currently focused on figuring out how to capitalize on the synergy between the three divisions.

“That’s something we’re in the process of working on,” Gerami III says. “We just hired a branding company because we haven’t done much advertising. Our brands, we feel, are strong and have been around for a while. But to make the connection — that the different brands are connected — is something we’re trying to perfect.”

Employee management is handled by a human resources manager. “We feel that we treat our people fairly,” Gerami III says. “We have a good benefits program. We really don’t have much turnover. We’ve been fortunate to have a good group of people.” When looking to hire, they start by asking for referrals from their current staff before working with an employment agency.


A customer relocation in 2014 was the impetus for the company to open their first satellite office. “The customer moved to Sulphur to do some work and asked if we would go with them,” Gerami III says. It also gave them the opportunity to diversify their customer base, he says, since there are a lot of industrial companies in that area, which they don’t have in Lafayette. For similar reasons, in 2016 they opened the Beaumont branch and in 2017 the office in Pecos.

Coordination between the offices is handled through on-site operations managers, frequent visits and daily contact. All three locations offer the full range of company services with accounting and administrative functions handled out of the main office.

Meanwhile, in Lafayette it was getting harder and more inefficient to manage multiple locations. The company also needed more storage space for equipment and vehicles. For a couple years they thought about building a facility, and by 2017 they were ready to make the move. The first hurdle was finding the right location.

“We have a retail operation on the party rental side so we had to have a location that could still service those customers, as well as a location that could provide the storage needs for the waste and sanitation sides of the business,” Gerami III says. “There was a property I stumbled across and then we contacted a Realtor.”


The process took about a year beginning with clearing the empty wooded lot and planning the design.

“My dad designed the facility himself,” Gerami III says. “We do a lot of design work with the PartyCAD program because of the different events we participate in, so he pretty much laid out the building. And then obviously it was tweaked once we got our contractor involved.”

The 60,000-square-foot facility sits on 10 acres. The main building houses administrative employees and the retail showroom, which is connected to the party supply warehouse. A mechanic shop and three-bay truck wash are in a separate building. Trucks, restrooms, trailers and roll-offs are stored in the yard.

The logistics of move in were carefully planned. “We came up with a very detailed plan so we’d have as minimal issues as possible,” Gerami III says. They decided to begin the move over the July 4, 2018, weekend as it’s a slower time for them. Their biggest concern was making sure the phones and computers worked so those were set up first. After office personnel and furniture were moved, they worked on Party Central, the most complicated move due to the number of items in inventory. Event Solutions was next, followed a couple weeks later by the Deep South Containers staff and equipment.

Everything was moved by company equipment and personnel. “We have all the trucks and the trailers and the people, so we just did it ourselves,” Gerami III says. “It was a fairly easy move from that aspect since we do that every day, day in and day out, anyway as far as loading and unloading for different events. Overall it was a very smooth transition.”


Gerami III says it’s been a fun business. “It allows you to be involved in these different community events. It’s never the same day to day.” It also gives them a sense of satisfaction, he says. “We feel that what we do is something that is needed. Whether it’s on the sanitation side or the trash side, we feel we’re contributing in helping our community be a cleaner and better place.”

He says the future will be more of the same. “Our plans are to continue providing the services we provide. And we’re always looking for opportunities to grow, whether it’s through acquisition, organically or geographically.”

Disaster recovery a specialty

With their headquarters on the Gulf Coast, it was inevitable the Service Group of Louisiana would get involved in disaster recovery work. “It’s a major focus for our company,” says Frank Gerami III, co‑owner. “Of course, it’s not every week, but when a disaster does occur in our region, we definitely respond to it. Sanitation needs and waste removal are critical.”

The company has contracts with all the states along the coast and will go any distance to respond to a disaster. They have serviced weather events in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama. Governmental agencies constantly monitor the weather and give the company notice. “Once we get put on standby, we start getting ourselves and our equipment in gear,” Gerami says. “We make sure everything is secure on our end so whenever we need to deploy, we’re ready to go.”

Typically they provide support services for base camps and mobilization areas for agencies such as the National Guard, Red Cross, local police and utility companies. All of their service lines are involved, Gerami says. “We deploy roll-offs, portable toilets, hand-wash stations, tents for shelter, food and sleeping tents, tables and chairs.” For large deployments, company personnel will stay on site for the duration of the event.

Having trained personnel is key to success in this type of work. “We definitely train our people,” Gerami says. “A lot of it falls within our normal scope of work that we provide year-round anyway; it’s just a little more intense and the environment is more hazardous.

“We have meetings and discuss safety and how to handle certain situations and the conditions in those environments,” he continues. “Obviously you have flooded roads and high winds. So we have guys who know how to go out there and handle those situations.” Keeping communication lines open and navigating flooded roadways are two of the biggest challenges, he says. They rely on both cellphones and satellite phones.

Occasionally those disasters hit close to home and affect employees directly. “We focus on accommodating those employees and helping them,” Gerami says. “At the same time, we’ve been able to overcome those hurdles and do our job, which can be challenging. Due to the nature of the business we’re in, it’s a juggling act. But we’ve always managed to do it.”


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