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Ray Cammack Shows: Attention to detail

7/17/2013

By Linda Van Slyke

Photo courtesy of

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It is said that if you take care of the details, then the big picture will take care of itself.  Such is definitely the case with Ray Cammack Shows, Inc. (RCS).  Whether you're talking ownership, management, employees, safety or innovation - RCS has proven over and over again that the details of its operation are in tip-top shape.

RCS owners Charlene and Guy Leavitt could be considered carnival "royalty."  In other words, midway life is quite literally in their blood.  Charlene's father was the "Ray Cammack" of Ray Cammack Shows, and her mother Veryl was right there by his side.  Ray and Veryl began their carnival business with just a merry-go-round which Ray built in the family garage.

Meanwhile, Harley and Rita Leavitt (Guy's parents) were on a similar track.  They, too, began building theiPhoto By r carnival from the merry-go-round up.  After retirement they purchased the Great Western Carnival, which eventually became part and parcel of RCS.

How so?  It was the marriage of Charlene and Guy that later united these two family operations.  Although the progeny of this corporate union is named RCS, it is every bit as much Leavitt as it is Cammack.  In fact, members from both sides of the family continue to be involved in RCS.

For the Leavitts, "family life" has also encompassed RCS management.  The website explains that their "management team has over 875 collective years of experience in the industry."  For example, Director of Marketing Tony Fiori has been with them for more than a quarter-century.

Nevertheless, management alone does not a carnival make.  Employees are considered to be so integral to the RCS family that they are generously provided "with the tools they need" such as "an employee lounge on the midway, on-site hair salon and childcare, and an extensive commissary."  Fiori stated that these employee benefits have been "obviously working well."

In return, employees are expected to "adhere to perhaps some of the strictest codes in the industry."  Men are not allowed to have "long hair, ponytails, beards... excessive facial hair" and earrings.  Women are also expected to be "well groomed" and acceptable to "discriminating guests of the fair." 

In 2011, Tony Fiori told Daily Pilot reporter Sarah Peters that "RCS workers are like any other corporate employee, subject to rules and regulations outlined by executive management."  Peters then commented:  "It just so happens that instead of a cubicle, their office space is a carnival."

This partially explains the strictness of the RCS employee code.  But more than that - RCS is superb at creating the type of overall environment that fairgoers will feel most comfortable with. The RCS "Employee" page states:  "Our employees and their values are one of our greatest assets.  The safe fun that we bring to a community is powered by our people."

RCS takes its employee-based safety very seriously.  The pre-employment application stresses the importance of a drug-free workplace by including statements such as this:  "If you know that you can not refrain from using drugs during your employment on the RCS Midway please do not apply for a position with us."  The application also makes it perfectly clear that there will be a pre-employment drug screening, as well as "random drug screening" of Midway employees.

Fiori emphasized that RCS has an "excellent safety record."  He stated, "We do a lot of things in our organization for safety - we do a lot of safety training."  The website explains that all employees "complete a rigorous training and orientation program."  This training adds up to "more than 5,000 hours of safety training for employees every year" - and includes such specialties as the training and certification of all equipment and crane operators.

RCS prioritizes "daily computerized ride and equipment inspections" - and holds "as many or more inspections as any Amusement Company in the US." The software that is used during the  computerized inspections was "created and implemented by RCS."

RCS is nothing if not innovative...  This innovative flair is literally in full view on the midway.  Charlene Leavitt has wisely pointed out:  "Our family works here.  We want the environment to be just like the one we want to live in."

Midway beautification is key to creating that kind of a nurturing environment.  Fiori explained, "We landscape all of our major events.  We have plants, trees, benches and umbrellas - customer features to make it more comfortable for them to be here."  This initiative has been in the process of "creating a unique color-coordinated park-like atmosphere to the midway" since 1985.   

Fiori further explained that when customers feel more comfortable, "they stay longer."  The RCS website praises the way that amusement parks slow people down and "encourage guests to spend the entire day at the park" - and then states:  "We have copied that philosophy."  In doing so, RCS works "with new themes, an extensive flag program, and colorful uniforms that are NEW at every fair."

Innovation is also apparent in the RCS FunPass system, which Fiori stated "is done by hardwiring, not wireless."  According to the website, this "electronic ticketing" was first implemented in 2007, along with a "new electronic management system..." Fourteen new rides were purchased in 2007 - and Fiori recently reported:  "We have six new rides right now and one more for August."

Even the RCS philosophy for carnival games is innovative.  Rather than trying to fool patrons into walking away empty-handed, RCS believes in a user-friendly approach.  Website readers are assured of the following:  "...our goal is that guests go home with arms full of merchandise and improvements to their skills."

It's the Golden Rule all over again.  Treat people right, and they will keep coming back.  Make them feel at home, and they will stay a lot longer.  It's a win-win approach. And that has made all the difference to many a fairgoer...

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