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Chance Rides Manufacturing, Inc., is growing and taking the steps to continue its amusement legacy by forming a financial partnership with Permanent Equity, a Missouri-based private equity firm.

Known as the largest U.S. based amusement ride manufacturer, Chance Rides has created rollercoasters, observation wheels, trains, carousels, and so much more for over 60 years.

Located in Wichita, Kansas, the company operates where its founder began, in a 250,000 square-foot facility, now employing some 130 skilled workers. The Chance Rides team provides engineering and prototype services as well as fabrication, molding, painting, final assembly, and even carousel artwork, and is well known for its commitment to customer support.

Company CEO and owner Dick Chance says that the new equity partnership was designed to “continue the legacy of Chance Rides long after I'm gone, and for the company to be successful in the future.”

The company was founded in 1961 by his father, Harold Chance, as Chance Manufacturing Company, Inc. Their first project was a C.P. Huntington train, of which they have now produced 400. The company was also initially known for creating the Trabant, an easy setup trailer-mounted amusement ride that was popular for its simple assembly. Along with the rides themselves, Chance also established the first amusement ride safety seminar in 1971.

Dick Chance joined the company in 1970 and was a part of the company's seminal growth and innovation in the 70s and 80s, when the company developed rides like the Zipper, YO-YO and Skydiver.

When the elder Chance retired in 1985, Dick took the helm, starting Chance Industries, Inc., with subsidiaries Chance Rides, Chance Coach, and Chance Engineering, continuing the company's growth and expansion to include the creation of carousels, and transportation, such as a replica streetcar bus.

Dick was joined by his eldest son, Michael, who worked successfully on the further expansion of the park's theme park enterprises, including the production of rollercoasters. European partners came next for the company with the creation of Chance American Wheels, LLC in 2004, and the production of towering R60 Observation Wheels, which rose 60 meters (196 feet) in the air.

At the company's 50-year mark, the name of Chance Rides was reintroduced under Michael's direction as the company's president. Sadly, he passed away in 2016, and the same year, Dick Chance's son John joined the business. Dick Chance recalls his favorite of the rides created during these years as the Lightening Run GTX Coaster, made for Kentucky Kingdom, in Louisville.

Aaron Landrum joined the company as president and COO in 2017, with Landrum holding that position today.

John oversees the company's business development and was behind the conversion of the company's C.P. Huntington Trains from internal combustion to electric, making an environmentally sound move that also increased company train sales.

In short, Chance Rides has never been a stranger to change, and their new financial partnership with Permanent Equity is a decisive way to achieve continued growth, along with the design, services and parts the company provides for Chance products already on the market.

According to Landrum, “With Permanent Equity's financial partnership, the future of Chance Rides shines brightly and with immense optimism.” John Chance describes the company as a “driving force in the industry,” from its innovative new rides to classic amusements such as trains and carousels.

Permanent Equity's chief investment officer Tim Hanson concurs, citing the company's “fabulous reputation” and commitment to quality, craft, and customer service and the bonds they have built with their customers over the decades.  “We're excited to invest in the continued success of this management team…and [continue to] make the world more fun.”

John Chance adds that “One of the key factors in partnering with Permanent Equity is its proven track record of preserving company legacies and enhancing what's already working… they care about our company, employees, and customers.”

Permanent Equity will retain the Chance Rides name; the company will remain in Wichita with Aaron Landrum continuing as president and CEO. Dick Chance says he's ready for the next chapter, as he moves from CEO and owner to holding a minority interest in the company.

And in the meantime, the company is continuing to sell its classic C.P. Huntington electric train – now coming to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, for what the zoo calls in a press release “a ‘choo-choose' path to sustainability.” The existing Columbus Zoo train is receiving an electric engine to replace its 25-year-old compressed natural gas engine and 12-year-old gasoline engine.

Requiring little maintenance and a smoother ride, the electric train engine is an environmental improvement  for the venue, providing zero emissions, and in the process supporting the zoo's commitment to being green and making a difference for a more sustainable future.

Chance Rides also recently provided new carousels at Southwick Zoo and Utah's Thanksgiving Point, as well as a revamped classic Sea Dragon attraction at the Santa Monica, Calif.'s Pacific Park. The original ride was an intrinsic part of the pier amusement park's draw for more than 26 years; Chance Rides has provided an updated version with the same attractive, bright green exterior.

The scaly new Sea Dragon has been placed in the same space as the old iteration. The cost was $1.5 million for a greatly enhanced version of the swinging family fun ride. The new Dragon has customized music and sound, wind generators, and even a misting system – all designed to give riders the feeling of being over the open ocean while riding. It also includes new, shaking seats adding to the sensation of being out on a stormy sea. And it uses energy saving bright LED lighting after dark for plenty of energy-saving sparkle.

Paired with new partner Permanent Equity, Chance Rides is now poised to look toward the future, undoubtedly creating more exciting and environmentally-sound attractions.
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