Young Mark Hammond in Marquee Hertfordshire Uniform
July 2009
At the age of 18 I didn’t know what path I wanted to take. I knew I didn’t want to go to University after finishing my A-Levels taking a degree I may never use and be several thousand pounds in debt. So, for my birthday present that year my dad gave the business to me. (better than a car, right?!). He gave me two marquees and 16 plastic garden chairs. He let me borrow his van to use if I ever took on a booking. I worked hard that summer building a website and generating more and more enquiries. I took on 22 marquee bookings in my first year. I was also in a part time occupation too at a local school to generate me enough income during Abacus’ early years.
Young Mark Hammond in Marquee Hertfordshire Uniform
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March 2011
My time working at the local school was down to only 2 days a week as I could rely on Abacus for more income as the marquee bookings were more frequent. We started to get busier especially in the summer doing a lot of street festivals for the Queens Jubilee this year too. The marquees themselves were getting bigger as well as demand.
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July 2011
I was really lucky – I had a (very able!) grandad who was more than happy to help me when I needed an extra pair of hands. Come rain or shine he’d have my back and help set up many birthday parties, weddings and family events with me. I would have struggled a lot during this time without my grandad – so I’m really grateful for his hard work.
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Mark Hammond on site setting up a marquee with the team
October 2011
Most of the profit was put back into the business and I purchased more marquees and ancillary equipment. I now had a stock of 5 marquees as well as more chairs & tables.
Mark Hammond on site setting up a marquee with the team
2013 awards evening with the team from Marquee Hertford dressed in black tie with pink bowties
April 2012
I also applied for the Hertfordshire Business Awards and I was a finalist. I was ecstatic when I found out and brought my family and two part-time team members with me to the big gala ball. I didn’t win the category I was in but it was a great experience being there with other successful business owners and gave me great inspiration to go and win it the next year.
2013 awards evening with the team from Marquee Hertford dressed in black tie with pink bowties
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May 2012
We were now installing over 70 marquees a year now with a stock or 10 marquees offering flooring, linings lighting and furniture. I took on several casual labour staff during the peak summer months ensuring I had the capacity to keep up with demand.
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2013 Me and Grandad with our summer crew Matt Dan 1024x576
July 2012
My grandad was still helping me set the marquees up (much to my nans annoyance haha!) but I needed some extra help as I didn’t want to overwork him.
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Abacus team in front of branded van
March 2013
In 2013 was the year I bought my first van and had my own independent storage unit. Abacus was growing up and it needed to quickly to take on the increased business. We obtained a very good reputation and we were getting a lot of repeat and referred business. Friends and family of our customers were in our parties that we arranged and realising how we could help them too.
Abacus team in front of branded van
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April 2013
My grandads’ marquee career was caught short after I was partly responsible for a knee injury (my nan fully blames me but I’m disputing my case!). It’s a shame as I really enjoyed working with him but he’s still really keen to try and get out there with us again!
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June 2013
After another two business awards finalist positions – it wasn’t just my customers realising Abacus is a very special business. We’re now setting up over 180 parties a year and our now famous “All-Under-One-Roof’ service was introduced too. Not just offering the marquees and equipment but also introducing catering, DJ’s, balloons, event loos etc to further enhance our events.
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August 2013
A lot of investment was made in 2014 and Abacus had an inventory or nearly 20 marquees offering 28 different size combinations. I took on my first full time member of staff, Tom. If anybody had a really successful event in 2014 chances are Tom was fully responsible! He is now one of our current Team Leaders – who now does all of our site visits ensuring the marquees will fit and offering advice on enhancing any event. Tom is a fantastic at asset to the business – his knowledge of how to create really successful events, sometimes in the trickiest of spaces is amazing.
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2014 Doing CEO of RedBulll UKs marquee took 6 hours to get a can out of him
October 2013
We also took the attention of the CEO of RedBull too – as we were responsible for his big birthday celebration in London. They had a marquee in the back garden and we decorated the house with LED lighting and a dance floor too. It was a hit and they loved what we offered and had a wonderful night.
2014 Doing CEO of RedBulll UKs marquee took 6 hours to get a can out of him
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December 2013
We also had our first Christmas in a marquee too which was special!
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February 2014
We were elated and for Tom & Adam and myself, it was nice to get some acknowledgement from our efforts. The Awards judges claimed “Abacus has customer service at the heart of its business. The amount of client testimonials they have collected – there really was no other winner. One of Abacus’ true core values is their ability to provide a wonderful customer experience week in week out”
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2015 New office setup
June 2015
In 2015 the business was in full swing and having to employ several more temporary staff members during the summer to keep up with demand. We were growing month on month and were keeping up with increased demand. We purchased a second van too.
2015 New office setup
2017 The team decided to play tricks on me and stuck this to my back all day
March 2016
Nearly 400 marquees were set up in 2016 and it was fair to self-proclaim that we were probably the most frequently used marquee hire company regionally. Not a bad accolade indeed. However I wasn’t impressed when my guys stuck a fake spider on me!
2017 The team decided to play tricks on me and stuck this to my back all day
2016 Joe Tom Me Adam Dan and other Mark
July 2016
We also purchased another van to keep up with demand. Thanks to our summer workers, during the peak season we had teams of 7 or 8 installing up to 6 marquees a day between us! Our amazing reputation had spread far and wide and we were fully booked during most of the summer.
2016 Joe Tom Me Adam Dan and other Mark
Epson Marquee Hire
September 2016
As well as our garden marquees we were getting to work in some really nice venues installing lovely marquees for weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries and corporate events too.
Epson Marquee Hire
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October 2016
2016 saw the additional of another team member Joe. Fresh out of university and not shy from hard work Joe is a vital cog in the Abacus wheel helping Tom and Adam on the marquee installs. Joe’s sense of humour keeps us sane during the rainy days. He’s also very good at communicating with our customers informing them of everything they need to know about their marquee.
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February 2017
I always reward hard work here at Abacus – it’s always appreciated. Adam has put in a lot of hard work during the winter months with lots of early starts, late nights and weekends, Adam ensured our customers were delighted with our service and was responsible for our amazing growth during the winter months. He’s been wanting to go skiing for years but is currently saving for a house with his girlfriend. You should have seen his face when I told him he’s going to France skiing in February! ⛷ He fully deserved it and both him and Kirsty came back in one piece too…result!
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March 2017
We’re now preparing for this year’s marquee madness and our winter projects are slowly coming to completion. Gearing up for not only the garden birthday parties & anniversaries but the increased demand for weddings and larger events this year too. Something we’re all really excited about!
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March 2017 - Investing
I always reward hard work here at Abacus – it’s always appreciated. Adam has put in a lot of hard work during the winter months with lots of early starts, late nights and weekends, Adam ensured our customers were delighted with our service and was responsible for our amazing growth during the winter months. We’re also investing in adding to our range of chairs again as well as more bars and dance floors. Our quotations are already four pages long as we offer so much and we’re looking to increase that!
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April 2017
New starter James has joined Team Abacus. James is excellent with giving our customers the very best experience as possible. He is a hard worker and dedicated to customer service!
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May 2017 - Will Barnes
Gearing up for an even bigger year ahead we knew we needed to add to our fleet and team. Will joined us early this year – despite joining us mid-winter he’s always worn shorts – something the rest of us are working out if he is mad or brave.
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May 2017 - Panoramic Marquee
We’ve now purchased some clear panoramic walls! They look great and allow natural daylight to come through and makes your event a bit more special particularly if the marquee is in nice surroundings. They look awesome at night too! LED Uplighting gives the marquee a bit of a nightclub feel. We’re getting some clear roofs soon as well.
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June 2017
Our biggest ever set up to date. A 15m x 21m Marquee for Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow. We were responsible for the success of over 12 events in 3 days. Including AV & Sound, staging, catering tents, luxury loo’s & outside lighting. The build included 2 night shifts and lots of energy drinks!
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June 2017 - Matt
Matt has joined us in June and has very quickly settled in well with the team! Matt’s determination to ensure the customer is left super excited for their event ensures we get lots of reviews!
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August 2017
Matt has joined us in June and has very quickly settled in well with the team! Matt’s determination to ensure the customer is left super excited for their event ensures we get lots of reviews!
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August 2017 - Nightclub
We’ve purchased some starlight blackout lining for the ultimate nightclub experience! Starlight blackout lining creates a dark, nightclub-style atmosphere with the LED lights in the ceiling twinkling. We’re really excited to be installing this for special events!
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September 2017
We bought a drone! It’s taken some amazing aerial photography of our marquees and shows off that you can really install a marquee in the smallest and trickiest of spaces (so long as you have an award-winning, super experienced people of course 😉 )
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November 2017
Woohoo! We’ve been selected as a finalist for Young Entrepreneur of the Year again. We won the main Award a couple of years ago and we can’t wait to come back and hopefully come back with another trophy! The awards evening is in November so keep your fingers crossed!
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December 2017 - James Archer
James joined Abacus in December and has gone from strength to strength. He took on board everything during his training phase and has very quickly progressed to joining our Senior Management Team as joint Head of Operations.
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December 2017 - Christmas At Home
So after setting up 19 marquees for Christmas I really looked forward to setting up another marquee at home for my family! As you can tell my lovely family are nuts but it was really nice to celebrate Christmas time together. Was back at it on the 27th there was no rest for the wicked!
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December 2017 - Christmas Recovery
We got over Christmas! We think we’re dead certain we’re the busiest marquee hire company during Christmas in the UK! With over 19 marquees up in four days for Christmas festivities, them back down again and 12 up for New Years Eve. Dealing with a break into our storage unit halfway through the mad three weeks tested our teams tenacity and determination to ensure none of our customers were let down. GO TEAM ABACUS.
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January 2018
GUESS WHO WON? Both Adam and I spend most of our days in the office. We’re a great duo but we’re ultra competitive. We both thought our customer service skills were better than each others. We decided in January who could receive the most reviews that included our personal name in…Loser bought pizza and unlimited cups of tea for a week…Thanks Ad 😉
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March 2018
We had a staff open day in March for potential new recruits for the busy season ahead. It gave them a chance of what being part of us crazy lot is like and we got to see who were the superstars from the pool. Terry, James & Alan who are now part of Team Abacus were found from our open days and we can’t wait to do another one when we need more superstars!
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April 2018
My grandad who was with me at the start of Abacus during our initial years used to help me install the marquees. He was my first member of staff! He was always on time, done what he was told and never asked for a pay rise. Unfortunately his health meant he hasn’t set up any marquees for a few years which used to keep him fighting fit. So I’m dragging him to the gym with me instead! He is always asking about how we’re doing and what we’re up to. Deep down I think he would love to be out there helping us…I’m sure nan would prefer that too ha!
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July 2018
The very first LOVE ISLAND themed party was completed. What a party! Hattie had the most amazing 16th birthday party where you can find out more about it on our previous events page!
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October 2018
We’ve been on a recruitment overdrive! We’ve hired 3 extra marquee installers during September as we’re still super busy! They’ve all earned their pink hoody now they’ve had their initial training.
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December 2018
Our Joint Head of Operations, James has been with us for a year now. What an asset he has been for Abacus! He ensures all 500 events go without a hitch ever year. He ensures staff, vans and the right kit is where it should be every week. He also makes me look very small.
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January 2019
We’ve been busy over the winter period innovating some really cool products that we can’t wait to show you! Including our LED infinity tables!
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March 2019
We are very happy to have Dan back with us heading up operations with James. He knows the business inside out as he’s been with us since he was 18. Dan organises our diary, the team and vehicles ensuring all events are organised!
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April 2019
Our 3000sq ft storage unit is getting filled with more and more equipment available for events! 3 years ago we never thought we would ever fill this space up..now we’ve got two containers outside too!
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December 2019 - Christmas at HQ
The inaugural Abacus Secret Santa arrived…I’m not sure if everybody was pleased with their presents! With a budget of £20 each I was very pleased with my create of favorite beer, Peroni. Not sure Rob in full camouflage clothing would so keen! On behalf of team Abacus we wish you a very successful Christmas. We’ve had another record busy year and we can’t for for January for some time off!
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Bedford Bid Night Shift
Abacus are happy to work all hours of the day if it means our clients meet their needs! We’re busy setting up a Christmas fayre at Bedford town centre. Due to how busy the town centre is we installed the structures in the evening ready for the festivities ahead.
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April 2020 - The C Word
This week was the first week everybody took the coronavirus with the respect it deserved as. The office is now deserted with just me and the fish (Dory, Nemo 1, Nemo 2). It feels very eary and quiet. Our lovely customers have been very understanding and we are busy postponing events that were due this Spring.
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