Sunny skies and warm temperatures graced the opening day of the Extravaganza and Trade Show on the IISF Club grounds in Gibsonton, FL. At 10 am the manufacturers and suppliers were ready for another year of business with many uncertain about the economy in 2009.
While the day got off to a slow start by mid-afternoon, a nice crowd began to stream through the aisleways. The MCW booth had many people stop by to say hello and sign up for our email list.
Lee Kolozy came by to report on his new venture, midwayads.com. Kolozy is a columnist for Side Show World and has been in the business all of his life. He saw a great need for the lost art of bill posting and decided to sink his time and resources into the new venture.
In 2008 he promoted circuses in Northern Indiana from May 1 through July 4th. He then worked
for several carnivals in the south including Glen Geren in Jackson, TN.
The unique selling point of Kolozy's business is his "showmobile", a mobile printing center where he can make posters and coupons in the same day on the road. By printing in this manner Kolozy minimizes waste, only producing what is needed, resulting in a savings to the show owner.
"Anyone can get the paper out", said Kolozy, "its getting the coupons back in that is the hard part". He said good strategies like getting the coupons close to the register, having a good looking ad and the offer of a significant discount are all factors in the coupon's return. Kolozy claims a return rate of 5%, well above the national average of 2%.
Getting the posters and coupons in retail stores takes entails spending time with the store owner and building a rapport so they will distribute the coupons and assist the event. "For every four locations I visit, only one will take the information", he said.
Kolozy observed that in this tough economy, promotions becomes even more important as people are more and more frugal with their advertising dollars. "Show owners invest so much in equipment and trucks, they also need to invest in these invitations to come to their event", he added.
Kolozy's midwayads.com offers several packages for bill posting from simple to deluxe.
At noon Bill Peeler of The Peeler Group and carnivalbackgroundchecks.com gave a seminar on employee screening issues facing the industry. Government regulations, moral and ethical concerns of owners and fear of civil lawsuits for negligent hiring are all reasons for conducting background checks.
Background checks verify identity, check an applicant's propensity for criminal behavior that does not meet your standard, establishes the true character of the applicant and identifies illegal and legal substances that will influence applicant's abilities.
Background/pre-employment checks can verify social security numbers, criminal records, driving records and may include drug testing. For higher level positions, you may check civil records, bankruptcies and credit histories. Potential drivers may require D.O.T. screens.
When checking an employee you need to know who you are checking, what their responsibilities will be, including driving for the company and access to customers before deciding which screen to utilize.
Peeler said that nationally, 10% of all applicants have a criminal record and 40% of all applications contain lies or deceptions. These reasons, along with reducing potential lawsuit exposure, are important considerations for background testing. By background testing you take steps to "protect your people, property, reputation and name", said Peeler. "One bad employee can affect your business and good name you have worked hard to build up", he added.
Common reasons given for not conducting screening are a perceived financial burden, lack of understanding about the process and lack of understanding about the risks of not screening.
Many states, including Illinois and Massachusetts are now requiring screening and background checks. D.O.T. regulations require them and some local and municipal governments also require checks. Interestingly, most of these required checks are not as comprehensive as those conducted by a licensed company and often they are not thorough enough to protect you against negligent hiring claims.
When considering background checks, they can be done almost instantaneously in most cases simply by logging onto the screening company's website. Companies such as the Peeler Group have affordable packages for screening at different levels that will actually save money in the long run through theft and potential lawsuits said Peeler.
Screening discourages applicants who have something to hide, eliminates uncertainty in the hiring process, demonstrates due diligence and provides an excellent return on a small investment.
Back on the midway, there are many new items for sale from ride manufactures as well as concessionaires. Innovations come in many shapes and sizes and cover almost all areas of the business. One impressive offering this year is from CAPCO who have introduced a new line of bunkouse-style trailers.
E.J. Dean, salesman for CAPCO said increasingly stringent regulations in Massachusetts led the company to take a new look at the traditional bunkhouse.
CAPCO has developed two 53, models, one a 7 room-14 person unit and a second an 8 room-16 person trailer. The 7 room model has two showers with a 300 gallon gray water holding tank.
Each of the walls, ceilings and floors in the bunkhouse are coated with flame retardant materials for increased personal safety. The rooms are also equipped with in-line series smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher. Another unique safety feature is the full-size emergency exit window, measuring 30" x 36" with a vent slider.
In addition to the safety features, the rooms also have storage areas under the bunks, additional storage areas in the undercarriage beneath all rooms, 12v lighting and automatic power for when on-site power is not immediately available, wiring for refrigerators and microwaves and every two rooms share a 12,500 BTU air-conditioner.
CAPCO has also developed a shower trailer to reduce gray water issues The shower trailer is built in a 28, pup and contains 5 showers, 2 in-series, 200 gallon water heaters and a 300 gallon fresh-water holding tank. This capacity should provide ample water and storage before the trailers are hooked to utilities. The units also have low-volume shower heads along with a sink, mirror and vanity. A 600 gallon gray water holding tanks rounds out the amenities.
Following the trade show, a vendor reception was held in the clubhouse. President Dee Dee Starkey thanked the vendors for their participation and wished everyone a great show. Starkey told MCW she thought the crowds today were about on par with last year and she was looking forward to a very successful week.
Bill Johnson (Fantasy Amusements), Ryan Vawter, and Frank Briggs (Modern Midways)
Brothers Scott and Mark Siefker of Showmen Supplies