Almost 12,000 people attended the IISA Trade Show in Gibsonton this year. That number was up 12% over 2010 and on par with 2008's excellent year. Officials were very happy with attendance and vendors also expressed their optimism about the outlook for the industry.
A.R.M., Inc. had Myer's International Midway's Vertigo set up at their booth. A.R.M. was happy with the level of traffic and were hoping to follow up on some leads after the show. ARM has also been a leader in the LED lighting movement. The key to the new bulbs is quality and they claim to have one of the most reliable bulbs on the market.
The Most Impressive Outdoor Display Award went to Fredricksen where owner Jim Frericksen said it had been a good show so far. Many of his sales are closed in the weeks following the show so he was optimistic based upon the number of leads he had. He figured he had closed 6 or so deals and was looking forward to the coming weeks.
Fredricksen's Ice Slide played the North Carolina State Fair with Power's Great American Midways and Fredricksen reported it finished in the top 40 of over 100 rides. Many of the slides are now equipped with LED lighting to save energy and they give a great look.
Tommy Coffing of Usedrides.com was busy at his booth on closing Saturday selling rides of every shape and size. Coffing recently began selling Majestic and Wisdom rides along with his used equipment. Coffing sold a Wiggle Worm to RCS, an Otterbacher Scooter to Mississippi Delta Shows an Ice Cream Trailer to Howard Miller, Tornados to Jack Keough and Jay Jessop, a circus train to Robert Townsend and Majestic Cloud Hoppers to Allan Bartlebaugh and Mike Newton
"The used market is good", said Coffing. "We sell reasonably priced rides with no markup, they bring what the market will bear. Our lot is Greer is like the Walmart of the carnival business".
Len Soled of Rides 4 U was one of the busiest people at the show. He now represents Datron in addition to KMG and his other lines in the US. Soled sold almost all of the rides he had on display including a Scat 2 to Conner's Amusements, the Drop Out to Playworld, a Hog Wild to Majestic Shows, the Frog Hopper to Classic Amusements, Puppy Love to Wagner Shows sand LED lighting packages to Newton for their Pharoah's Fury and Blue Sky Amusements for their wheel.
For KMG, an Inversion was sold to Safie in El Salvador, a Freak Out was sold to Poor Jack's Amusements and Drew was awaiting delivery on their X Factory.
In Soled's booth, Dartron had a Zero Gravity he was hoping to close a deal on by show's end. He was promoting the company's new Spindrome which is similar to a Rotor.
"We had a nice, even pace all week", said Soled. "There are quality people here who are cautious but looking to do business", he added.
Fajume was represented at the show by Dave Griffith of CMD Enterprises. They had their Wacky Worm as well as the helicopter ride and Galleon boat ride. The Wacky Worm was sold to Barry Jamieson in Canada.
Griffith said he liked his new location in the back ride area. He said it was a pretty good show and he was appreciative of the new layout.
Owens Trailers won the Outstanding Outdoor Display award with their glasshouses and bunkhouses. Ross Owens said the company received several good leads and the show was reasonably successful. "Better than the last year or three", he said.
Magic Mazes were sold to Power's GAM, Luehrs and Beauce Carnivale.
Inside the Owen's booth, Mike Wood gave MCW a tour of one of the four bunkhouses Owens was building for him. The rooms were very well appointed with showers and A/C units and Wood spoke passionately about providing excellent housing for his workers. Owens was proud of his bunkhouse design and he will be taking orders in June or July for bunkhouses for the balance of the year.
Speaking of Power's GAM, Corky Powers was present for much of the show, where in addition to the Owens piece he purchased the Lagoon coaster from Wisdom. "The spin adds a different twist to the ride", said Powers of his new purchase. He was looking forward to bringing the ride to his larger events to see how it will fare against a traditional coaster.
One purchase Powers was especially proud of is the SkyDiver he bought from Fanelli's Amusements. "Jack Fanelli had the ride up on blocks and I think it was used less than 40 times", said Powers. Powers said the ride was in such good condition, it still had the original tools and the old lights. The ride will be undergoing a transformation in his shop and he hopes to bring it out on the road this year. Powers was thinking that most kids 12 and under have never seen a SkyDiver and seeing the ride for the first time may spark a whole new generation of enthusiasts.
Bob's Space Racers were on hand once again for the trade show. Bob Cassata was personally working the booth along with brother Tony. Tony said 2010 was only a pretty good year because of cold and rain during parts of the season. BSR operates many games at carnivals and parks in addition to the manufacturing side of their business.
All the new trailers were being equipped with LED lighting and many had improved graphics and technology such as the new inventory control system introduced last year.
BSR's Jack Cook spoke at length about the game business and his firm belief that it was still a good business to be in. He cited his firm's success both in the amusement park industry and the carnival business but the key he said was to throw stock. "If you put people in front of us, we get the money" he said.
When expenses rise, including fuel prices and rents, it is very tempting on the part of the operators to try and recoup some of those costs by cutting back on stock. According to Cook, you become your own worst enemy by taking this route and dropping stock averages below 25%. "We have not seen weakness in game usage or game operations", he said. "We keep up our stock averages and the people respond", he added.
Another tip Cook offered to game operators is keeping up the appearance of games. "You see how food operators improve their marquees and trailers and the ride owners do so as well", said Cook. "It's the same with games". A new game or refurbished game will outperform an older game by a wide margin he counseled. "The game operators need to keep improving like the ride and food owners".
Click Here to view photos from the 2011 IISF Trade Show!