IAAPA Expo 2018: ARMCO Finds Independent Success with their KMG Speed and Inversion
Day two of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) was another busy day of large crowds, new announcements and educational sessions.
IAAPA brings together amusement parks and suppliers, carnival operators, waterpark operators, FEC owners and they even have a large contingent of smaller rental companies.
In fact, several aisles were filled with inflatables of every size, shape and variety. From simple moonwalks to elaborate slides and obstacle courses, there are dozens of varieties to choose from manufacturers both domestic and foreign. There are also many vendors catering to smaller rental-sized games. You can purchase a dunk tank, a money machine for birthday parties and special occasions or smaller versions of the games typically found on the midway.
For the more adventuresome, there are karaoke and music related setups for parties and celebrations and even a trailer mounted version of the popular escape rooms. These attractions are all the rage among teenagers and millennials through older players and the trailer promises a portable business opportunity for those willing to bring the fun to parties, festivals, schools and fairs.
Amusement devices of this type are attractive to potential entrepreneurs as the barrier to entry is relatively low and the possibility of turning a profit can be high if your services are marketed well.
When Kim and Larry Sankowsky sold their Subway franchises in 1999, they were looking for a business opportunity in the fair and festival world. They considered food briefly but, after having run restaurants, they were looking for something new. They wound up purchasing a Rock Wall to bring to festivals and events and their company, ARMCO was born.
After the wall, the Sankowskys purchased a remote-controlled raceway and later, a Euro-Bungy ride. With things going well, they decided to take the next big step and purchased a KMG Speed, and then last year, a KMG Inversion ride (themed Blackout).
The company books their rides as independent operators at fairs, music festivals and private events, sometimes staying together and other times splitting.
They have found success with music festivals, playing Country Thunder, and several other large music festivals. In addition, they were booked by E.K. Fernandez Shows to come out to the Hawaii State Fair with the Speed and the Blackout.
In the summer, they travel with Thomas Carnival, playing Montana, Utah and Idaho. They also played the Kansas State Fair this year, booking the Speed on the independent midway and the Euro Bungy with North American Midway Entertainment on the midway. Kim Sankowsky said NAME was very helpful to her as are many of the carnival companies they have had the opportunity to work with.
“The carnivals have been very good to us”, she said. “It has been a really great experience, working with several different shows”, she added.
The rides typically take cash only and a ride on the Speed and Blackout goes for $10 while the RC Raceway has a $5 charge.
The Sankowskys are fortunate to be able to work with family and long-time employees. The Hurley brothers, 3 in total, have been with them since the Subway days and some of the brothers’ kids now work for the company as have other Hurley family members. In addition, both sets of Sankowsky parents lend a hand and their son also plays a pivotal role. In a business that takes all cash, it is comforting to have a trusted family member selling tickets at all times.
The company recently played a church date where in the past they had the Euro Bungy but in 2018, were celebrating an anniversary and wanted to do something special. Kim suggested bringing the Speed and the Blackout and the church loved the idea. With a last minute cancelation, they added the RC Speedway, so the whole family was able to work together in one place.
With a route of many fairs and events, ARMCO is still looking for more of the elusive corporate events, making flyers, utilizing the companies new web site, and relying on word of mouth recommendations. Kim hopes her efforts will pay off with some additional booking for 2019.
IAAPA Hall of Fame
Begun in 1990 to honor legends and pioneers for their significant and lasting contributions to the growth and development of the global attractions industry, the IAAPA Hall of Fame is the organizations most prestigious award.
Over the past 28 years, dozens of industry pioneers from around the world have been inducted The IAAPA Hall of Fame was established in 1990 to honor legends and pioneers for their significant and lasting contributions to the growth and development of the global attractions industry. Over the past 28 years, dozens of industry pioneers from around the world have been inducted to the IAAPA Hall of Fame including Walt Disney (The Walt Disney Company); Milton Hershey (Hersheypark); and Dick Knoebel (Knoebels Amusement Resort).
To commemorate IAAPA’s 100th anniversary in 2018, eleven inductions took place at the show this year.
"In celebration of IAAPA's centennial anniversary, we are honoring some of the finest and most esteemed leaders in the history of the IAAPA Hall of Fame," said Jack Morey, 2018 chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee and executive vice president of Morey's Piers. "These pioneers, inventors, visionaries, and innovators each made lasting impacts on the global attractions industry we know today, as well as the association. We honor these exceptional individuals for their hard work, dedication, and leadership as we welcome them into the IAAPA Hall of Fame." The 2018 inductees are:Edward Joy Morris, Morris Chute Company, United States (1860-1929)
Edward Joy Morris was the industry's first large-scale manufacturer of attractions. This groundbreaker's patented "Shoot the Chute" and "Figure 8 Toboggan Slide" attractions were wildly popular as was his carousel, which introduced a variety of animals in addition to more traditional horses.Irving Rosenthal, Coney Island, Palisades Amusement Park, United States (1895-1973)
After building the iconic "Cyclone" roller coaster, Irving Rosenthal helped make Palisades Amusement Park in Bergen County, New Jersey, one of the most famous parks in the world.Alfred R. Hodge, National Association of Amusement Parks / IAAPA, United States (1881-1946)
Appointed the first secretary of the National Association of Amusement Parks, the forerunner of IAAPA in 1920, Alfred R. Hodge guided the organization through the Great Depression and World War II.Levitt Luzern Custer, Custer Specialty Co., United States (1888-1962)
Levitt Luzern Custer invented The "Custer Park Car”, an immediate sensation in the global attractions industry which led to the development of the "Water Cycle," the first paddle boat ride, and the "Bubble Bounce."Dr. Harry Wegeforth, Zoological Society of San Diego, United States (1882-1941)
In 1916, Dr. Harry Wegeforth created the San Diego Zoo. He also founded the National Association of Zoological Executives, which became AAZPA and later the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).Frank Hrubetz and Lee Eyerly, Eyerly Aircraft Company, United States, (1906-1987) and (1892-1963)
Frank Hrubetz and Lee Eyerly, of Eyerly Aircraft, designed and built innovative rides like the "Octopus," "Round-Up," "Paratrooper," and the "Roll-O-Plane" that have delighted guests for decades. Building more than 2,000 rides, they became the second largest builder of rides in the United States. Hundreds of Eyerly rides continue to operate, and their original designs are still built by other suppliers to entertain thrill seeking guests around the world. Phil Dexter, Big Surf Waterpark, United States (1927-2014)
After building two functioning prototypes, he obtained a patent and built a wave pool at Big Surf Waterpark in Tempe, Arizona, which he also managed.Marcelo Periales, Neverland, Argentina (1955-2013)
A natural entrepreneur, he created the first family entertainment center (FEC) in Brazil in 1989, and grew it into an international, award-winning business. Gary Story, Premier Parks / Six Flags Entertainment, United States (1955-2013)
During his 40-year career, Gary Story went from street sweeper to co-founder of Premier Parks and president/chief operating officer of Six Flags Entertainment.Alexander "Al" Weber, Jr., Paramount Parks, Palace Entertainment, Six Flags Entertainment, Apex Parks Group, United States (1952-2016)
Alexander "Al" Weber Jr.'s "guest-first" philosophy propelled him into key leadership roles spanning over four decades at Paramount Parks, Palace Entertainment, Six Flags Entertainment, and Apex Parks Group.
2018 IAAPA Coverage
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