Article from the OABA Showtime magazine:
OABA conducted a random survey of ride manufacturers and asked them three questions. Question1: How were sales to the mobile industry this last year? Question 2: What products are you featuring at IAAPA? Question 3: How do you feel about IAAPA going to Las Vegas next year?
Most ride manufacturers reported having good seasons in regard to sales to members of the mobile amusement industry, though the consensus seemed to be that even better years lie ahead.
A.R.M., Inc. >>
Eric Bates, a former OABA director, said, “We have done very well, especially with sales of Super Shots, and conversions of Chance Rotors to Ali Babas or Full Tilts. We have done business with people such as Butch Cory, John Ring, Bobby Hauser, Tom Gaylin, Reithoffer Shows and Deggeller Attractions, to name a few.” Bates said the company has a lot of new prospects, and a new ride under development. The booth, No.5168, at IAAPA, is shared with Jeff Novotny of Larson International. John Hanschen of Mighty Thomas Shows gave an unsolicited testimonial for A.R.M.’s Super Shot, and Majestic’s Wiggle Worm after taking delivery of both at the Montana State Fair, Great Falls. “They’re both family rides that move on one truck, and are affordable. We’re very happy with both,” said Hanschen.
Bates, who also operates Bates Brothers Amusement Co., said bad weather had hurt part of his carnival’s season. “But we had one of our better years, despite that. Pennsylvania spots in Pittsfield, Kimberton, and Clearfield held up well as did the Canfield, Ohio Fair, over Labor Day. You can’t beat Mother Nature, but our route is stronger than ever.”
Bates said the IAAPA move to Las Vegas would probably have a negative effect. “I do feel it will impact the IAFE and SLA shows, being only a week or two weeks apart. It will become an awkward situation, at best.”
Dalton Kid-Ride Rebuilders >>
Kevin Dalton said business has been very good this year, and he is still trying to make up the work hours he lost when he took a long Labor Day weekend. He has sold trailer mounted quad runners to Jeff Brady and Johnny Miller in the last couple weeks, and for the season, “more than I can shake a stick at.” He said, “It has capacity of 20 and fits on standard Hamptons. It racks all in front and pulls well. There is extra space in the back for golf carts or whatever. I have delivered 16 this year, with sales coming mostly from word of mouth, though I always exhibit at the Gibsonton show.”
Dalton has not exhibited at the IAAPA show in four years, but he will walk the floor. He doesn’t see how a move of the show to Las Vegas will be advantageous. “I have found a niche, doing a lot of fences, gates, and easy up entrance work with signs saying welcome to whatever, with 14 feet of clearance, and lots of flags and lights.” Dalton said he’s also in the process of putting, “a little bitty tractor ride together at the request of Don Deggeller. Weather has been great for more than three weeks this summer in the Midwest and fairs have boomed in Illinois. My manufacturing is keeping me busy.”
Eli Bridge Co. >>
Patty Sullivan, an OABA director, said, “Thankfully, we are really busy right now. We have been very fortunate. We just sold a 28-foot trailer-mounted Scrambler to Butler Amusements, and are working on a second one for him. Butch Butler wrote us a nice letter saying how happy he was with the first one. We retrofit on the 28-foot trailer, and then they can pull doubles. The public seems to be attracted to the new ride.” Sullivan said the company also installed a Wheel at Scheel’s All Sports, “and we sold a new Wheel to City Park in New Orleans. We have shipped part of it.” After delivery of Butler’s second ride in October, Patty said The James Gang will have one delivered in December, “or whenever they’re ready for it, since the season will be over then.”
She said she is concerned about the IAAPA move to Las Vegas. “They haven’t been explicit about the unions. We don’t know if we can set up our own booths, without using additional help. I hope they can negotiate where we will be allowed to do it ourselves.” Her booth number in Orlando is 5424.
ITAL International >>
Carlo Guglielmi represents such firms as Bertazzon, Technical Park and Leisure and Technology Systems, and brokers ride sales with many carnival and park operators. “Most of our sales have been to parks, but we have also done good business the last two years with carnivals.”
He said clients have included Johnny Reed of Reed Exposition Midway and Barry Jamieson, World’s Finest Shows, with Bertazzon Swing Carousels; John Richardson’sJ&J Amusements, Bob DeStefano’s Dreamland Amusements, and Harold Fera’s Rockwell Amusements, with Technical Park’s Street Fighters.
He said what he has heard about the season is carnivals are making money, and spending it as fast as it comes in. More second hand equipment is being sold because of the high Euro, and cost of going on the road.
Guglielmi will have Booth 4832 at the November 17-21 convention and trade show of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando. Concerning the IAAPA’s decision to move to Las Vegas for the 2009 convention, Guglielmi’s reaction was, “I’m not particularly happy.”
Larson International >>
Jeff Novotny said this has been a very good season. The last Fireball was sold to Barry Jamieson’s World Finest Shows in Canada. “We’re negotiating on a couple more, but actually pushing the park models more.” Novotny said the company has diversified into many areas, including building safety chambers for the hard rock mining industry and doing car displays for auto dealers. Novotny will again share booth space with Eric Bates of A.R.M. at the IAAPA show, with the booth being 5168. Concerning the move to Las Vegas he said, “I’m not excited at all. I’m very disappointed. It’s too expensive and you have to deal with the unions. We rent a house in Orlando that is less than a mile from the convention center.”
Majestic Mfg. >>
NEW WATERFORD, OH
Jeff Kudler said, “We can’t make the Wiggle Worms fast enough. Two weeks ago, we delivered No. 8 to Jeff and Scott Brady of Playworld Amusement Co.” Tommy Coffing, of usedrides.com, handles all carnival sales for Majestic. Kudler said the next one will be delivered to Powers Great American Midways at the North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh. What’s the appeal? “It makes operators a lot of money. It rides adults with kids, is easy in and out, low to the ground, and can be moved on a pup trailer. It’s also affordable,” said Kudler. “Between the Wiggle Worm and portable bumper car buildings, we’ll deliver about 20 this year, and we keep tweaking the Wiggle Worm, at the suggestions of the owners.
Kudler doesn’t understand the IAAPA move to Las Vegas. “The convention was not good when it was held in Los Angeles. This will hurt a lot of East Coast shows.” He said Tony Lowery of Lowery Carnival Co., was to take delivery of a Scooter building in mid-September. “This has been a busy year, which is good.”
Rides-4U, Inc. >>
Len Soled said it has been a very good season, with new and used ride deliveries. “The economy has not affected the majority of the parks. Last year was a banner one and we were cautious at the beginning of this one, but it has been on par, despite expenses being up for shows. I believe the carnival business is coming back. Corky Powers bought a Surf’s Up, which is a Flying Carpet, from SBF, and we just delivered a Hog Wild Chopper Train to him. We also sold Chopper Trains to Bobby Hauser and Reed Expo, along with Jamie Waknitz of Madjax, Inc.”
Soled said there will be several new items at the IAAPA show, where the booth is 2831. Regarding the move to Las Vegas, he said, “I’ve always been gun-shy moving anything west. How does Vegas fare for the family, while Orlando is great? But I have noticed the last few years that it was more of just buyers, not family members, at the show.”
Soled said he thinks the February show in Gibsonton, Fla., where he always exhibits many rides, will be one of the best. “The carnival people have had a sit back and wait attitude to see what happens with the high fuel prices, etc. They can’t stay still too long.”
Wapello Fabrications >>
June Hardin said she is working on some contracts that she is not at liberty to divulge at the current time. She said she does a lot of replacement work for Wisdom Raiders, and much of her business is with small carnivals and concessionaires. “My true love is really the carnival field, where I got started.” She said the advent of the rental industry and its rapid growth has been a detriment to carnivals. “Some people will put up 10 inflatables. They don’t look for quality or longevity.” She said it is very expensive for her to compete and keep things up to ASTM standards, especially on the East Coast. “I use first class fabric, which is more expensive. It’s not like it used to be, but I will always exhibit in Gibsonton (FL) That’s where I got my start, and I love the people, and the business.”
Hardin said she attended an AIMS Safety Seminar in La Vegas, “and we had a good turnout on the first day. Orlando is a family town, not for all night partying. When I attend a convention, I’d like to sell something.” Her booth in Orlando is 5624.
Wisdom Industries >>
Victor Wisdom’s reaction to the kind of season his company is having was, “We’re surviving. Of course, we can always use more business. I have a lot of used equipment I need to get rid of. This is a good industry, with good people, and I’m very thankful to be a part of it.”
Recent sales have been two Vipers to Butch Butler’s Butler Amusements, one of which was delivered in February, and the other in mid-July. Butler also bought a Himalaya and Tornado. Jimmy Reed got a Genesis in August, “which is the Moby Dick or Avalanche, with a different front, and he also bought a Viper.” Edmond Lavallee of Claude Dubois’ Amusements Spectaculaires in Canada, bought a one-truck Himalaya; Brandon Kibbee, son-in-law of Pat Crabtree of Crabtree Amusements, purchased a Genesis, and Pat Crabtree bought a Scorcher. “It’s a Sizzler, but Pat wanted a different name on it.”
Nick Pelino, who is carrying on the tradition of the late Dwayne Steck, also bought a Viper, and was very pleased with its performance at the Ohio State Fair, Columbus, and Minnesota State Fair, St. Paul, “and he’s taking it to the State Fair of Texas, Dallas.”
In honor of Steck and his wife, Beverly, their initials are being inscribed on the rides, with a big S in the center, and their initials on the sides. “They wanted to do something to honor his memory,” said Wisdom. “I visited some guys in St. Paul, mostly Nick, and as I said, he was doing very well.”
Asked if he knew his booth number for the IAAPA show, Wisdom laughed and said, “Once we’re set up, I know where I’m going, but I don’t know the booth number.
He is concerned about the 2009 move of the show to Las Vegas. “When we had the show in Los Angeles, it did not do very well. They tell me we may have problems with setting up.
We usually do that ourselves, and do not hire local help. There are a lot of direct flights into there, so I guess people will come.”
Zamperla, Inc. >>
Ramon Rosario, who has been with the company since 1995, said 2008 has been a difficult year for doing business with carnivals. “We went from having 70 per cent of our sales to carnivals, to 10 per cent. It’s tough to say if that market will come back, but I know a lot of them are hurting because of high costs and bloated percentages they believe they are paying to fairs.”
Rosario quickly added, “People are buying, especially the bigger shows that are going after the bigger fairs. Most of our sales are to the likes of Corky Powers, NAME (North American Midway Entertainment), Reithoffer, Guy Leavitt (Ray Cammack Shows). We seemed to have lost the little guys or even 12-ride medium-size shows. They’re trying to pay for their gas or diesel fuel. The business was very fruitful for a long time, and unfortunately, some operators paid too high to get some of their locations.”
Zamperla, which also features a wide variety of beautiful rides, will have a new one, the Barnyard, at the IAAPA convention. “Plus, we will be reintroducing the Kite Flyer and Samba balloon. We are using some labor from a factory in China to try and hold down costs. We are trying to figure a way to make more affordable rides. We have a very large product line and provide rides for companies from Disney to coin operators to make up for loss of the carnival market. Mr. Zamperla (Alberto) grew this business with the carnivals, and though it’s not our bread and butter business anymore, it is in sentiment. We will never give up on that market.”
The Zamperla booth number in Orlando is 2414. As far as the move of the show to Las Vegas in 2009, Rosario said, “We prefer Orlando. It is very user friendly. We are at an AMOA Show in Las Vegas this week (September 9), and it is very expensive. It is not easy to work there. We put up a big display in Orlando. That may not be possible in Las Vegas, even though it may be easier to attend for West Coast operators.”