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IISF Trade Show - Tuesday Highlights
Plenty of equipment on display; new green products from Berk Ent.


By Ron Weber

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The IISA Trade Show and Extravaganza kicked off Tuesday, February 4th in Gibsonton, FL.  Trade show attendees were treated to 80+ degree weather; if they could get there.  Unfortunately, severe snow and weather in the north caused the cancellation of more than 2,600 flights across the Northeast alone, with the Midwest also experiencing numerous delays.  As a result of these flight delays, traffic at the show on the first day seemed lighter than usual. 5,000 to 6,000 trade show guests are expected over the course of the week according to IISA sources.

Inside the show, dozens of ride manufacturers had equipment setup for display to prospective buyers.  Zamperla, with three rides and one of the largest displays in several years, has a Sky Race, perennial favorite Happy Swing and a Jump Around.  At the show's entrance Battech has a Hog Racer on display.  Owen Trailers has a Wacky Shack and Fajume Rides has a Wacky Worm on display. 

The biggest ride booth at the show was once again provided by Len Soled's Rides-4-U.  If you want to sell a carnival ride, you can't do it with videos or pictures, says Soled.  He has been in the business of selling rides for 30 years and owner of Sommerville, NJ-based Rides 4-U for the past 20 years.

He is a big advocate of the trade show.

"You've got to feel it, touch it, ride it, experience it," he said. "You've got to know how it runs and how it should be maintained. You can't get that with a picture."

"This is a whole lot easier and less expensive than taking the rides all over the country to sell and display them," he said. "Now, manufacturers are very conservative. They want to display their rides this way, so they can be experienced".

Soled represents a variety of ride manufacturers, both domestic and European.  On display at the show is a SBF/Visa Groovy Bus, a KMG Freak Out, a S&S Frog Hopper and a new Spinning Coaster from SBF/Visa.

A new ride this year is the Spin Zone built by Amusement Products.  The ride is a trailer mounted bumper car ride but the cars have rounded seats that spin as they move.  The actions of the car  are controlled by the operator.

Gold Star Amusements with a Puppy Roll, Sherwood Amusements with their Expo Wheel, A.R.M, with a Quasar and Majestic Manufacturing with a Rock N Cars bumper car ride were all represented.

Wisdom Manufacturing brought their version of the Watkins Rampage, the Stampede.
Victor Wisdom said the company has been exhibiting in Gibtown since 1969.

Wisdom said he sold his first version of the Stampede at the tradeshow last year to American Traveling Shows of California. He delivered his second version of the 65-foot ride last October to Powers Great American Midways.

The ride is a vision with "a lot of lights," he said. He's taking two of them to the tradeshow this year, one a 32-seat version at a price of $565,000 and a smaller version for $535,000. Wisdom is based in Marino, Colorado and sells nationally and internationally.

Wisdom is another proponent of the show's format. "We get to set up the equipment," said Wisdom. "People can look it over, kick tires. That's what they want."
Wisdom Industries has created proven money makers such as the Gravitron, Dragon Wagon, Tornado, Himalaya and many more.

Berk Enterprises is another annual exhibitor at the show and the company had some exciting news to announce this week.

The company entered into a new exclusive alliance with Vegware Ltd. Vegware is a global brand of award-winning eco disposables made from renewable or recycled materials such as sugar cane fiber or American-grown corn. Vegware has a comprehensive range of eco packaging that is certified compostable. Unlike most food service packaging, Vegware can be composted with food waste after use. Vegware products can biodegrade in less than 12 weeks. Forks, knives, spoons, plates and cups are all available from the new line. 

Company President Robert Berk, recognizing the need for greener packaging, launched an Environ line of cutlery and tableware many years ago, but with the growth in demand for green products, Berk realized it was time to launch an entire line of earth friendly products that were not only biodegradable, but also compostable, therefore suitable for inclusion in food waste recycling.

"We can see that Vegware is the solution helping food service go green. We already had experience in the eco disposables market with our Environ brand but saw a great opportunity to take on what is becoming the world's best-known brand of completely compostable packaging. We are very excited to introduce a whole line of unique eco products to the American market.", said Berk.

Keen to reduce trash costs and boost recycling, US municipalities are turning to composting as a way to avoid using landfills. San Francisco's Mandatory Recycling and Composting Ordinance requires residents and businesses to properly separate recyclables and compostables and keep them out of the landfill.

Composting is already widespread in many areas, with New York, Vermont and Massachusetts already introducing similar mandates to San Francisco.

In late December 2013, in a bid to boost recycling rates, New York City Council voted to ban expanded foam containers. Washington DC is considering the same. Bans are already in place in Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and many other cities.

 "With so many states mandating composting and banning foam containers, we expect a 40-50% increase in the number of brokers and distributors who carry compostable packaging, said Berk. 

Berk foresees a 15% increase in overall sales initially, with substantial growth expected in coming years.

Nick Verina, Creative Director for Berk, said the company has many new products in addition to the new Vegware line.  In the children's market, they designed new kid's cups, straws and entree dishes complete with crayons.  They are targeting restaurants and concessions that have a strong family component.

Another new design is the double welled cup that has a split straw.  When drinking frozen drinks such as a Slushie, the guest can put separate flavors in each well of the cup and watch as the flavors combine and come out the top.

Other new products include a corn themed drink container for fall festivals and a mason jar, made out of plastic, for that retro-rural feel.
Verina said Berk's sales in refillable cups has been steadily growing.  The idea of using the cup more than once, returning to the vendor for refills during the fair, has "really taken off", said Verina.

All Berk products are customizable for use with company name, branding or logos.
The trade show continues Wednesday February 5th through Saturday February 8th.

Show Preview  |  Wednesday Highlights Thursday Highlights Friday Highlights  |  Saturday / Show Conclusion News  |  Trade Show Photo Gallery

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