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Danny Huston acquires NAME from Townsquare Media Inc
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North American Fairs LLC has purchased North American Midway Entertainment (NAME) from Townsquare Media Inc. for $23.5 million plus a 15% residual interest in any future proceeds of a sale of NAME in the next ten years. North American Fairs, LLC officially took possession of NAME on Thursday, May 24th. Danny Huston, owner of North American Fairs, LLC and former President of NAME, is thrilled with his new acquisition and looks forward to growing the company bigger and stronger.

“Townsquare Media Inc was a great partner the two and a half years we were together,” says Huston. “NAME was not a good fit for them and what they do. They’re staying with their core business and what they’re good at: radio.” Huston’s family has been in the business for 40 years; and now both of his sons are involved in NAME. “There are a lot of good people invested in this (North American Midway) company and I’m not ready to retire so it was an easy decision to continue,” says Huston.

Currently, NAME is North America’s largest carnival company with over 200 rides in its arsenal, according to Townsquare Media INC. NAME also leads carnival companies in the number of Top 50 Fairs played in 2017: 12. They play not only some of the largest fairs in the US, but also the Canadian “A” circuit and the Canadian National Exhibition. Now, this behemoth of a company is once again owned by Huston.

When he began his career in the outdoor amusement industry, Huston was living in a small town in Indiana. There was a man who lived down the street from his parents who owned some games and was looking for kids to man them. Huston started his journey working a dunk tank and then shortly worked his way up to a basketball game.

Later in his career, in 1980, Huston joined Pugh Shows and worked for the company for 25 years, managing games and operating them. “I learned a lot from Jeff Pugh, he taught me a lot about the industry,” says Huston. Along the way, Huston met his wife, Diane Pugh, Jeff’s sister.

When Pugh Shows fell into financial trouble, after the purchase of Crown Amusements in 1999, Huston and Jim Wegerly created Mid-America Shows by purchasing key assets of the former Pugh Shows, including rides, routes and concessions. In 2004, North American Midway Entertainment was formed through the merger of Conklin Shows, Farrow Shows, Blomsness-Thebault led by private equity firm Cypress Group. After a few years of operation, NAME acquired Mid-America and part of Cumberland Valley Shows in a second wave of acquisitions. Huston became a key player in the new company, serving as Chief Operating Officer of the largest company of its kind in North America. “It was exciting. This company had interest in what we had built,” says Huston of the purchase.

After six years of ownership by Cypress Group, , Huston and JEFF Blomsness purchased the assets of NAME in December of 2010. They would run the company together for the next five years.

Townsquare Media Inc showed an interest in purchasing NAME but Huston wasn’t immediately convinced. “I wasn’t looking to sell at that time but the idea of partnering with a public company was exciting,” says Huston. Eventually, Townsquare closed on a deal to purchase NAME for $75.5 million, retaining Huston as CEO and Blomsness as Chairman.

After two seasons of operation, Townsquare undertook a strategic review of its Entertainment Division, which included NAME, and Townsquare co-CEO Bill Wilson said he was open to discussion abut selling the asset. Huston formed North American Fairs, LLC and reclaimed his company for less than a third of what he sold it for just a few years before.

Former partner Jeff Blomsness will remain very involved in the operation, running the All-Star division as he always has and helping with overall operations when the units are combined said Huston. "Jeff has been a long-time partner and friend to me and I'm fortunate to continue to have him at my side as we move forward with NAME in this new chapter of our operations", he added.

Having been through the buying and selling process more than once, Huston now says he probably will not be selling the company again, hoping to retain the company to pass on to his family.

While the purchase is a major event for the company, Huston is confident that it will not affect NAME’s operation and he expects the transition will be a smooth one. “People always wonder where you’re headed when you sell a company,” says Huston. It’s important for our fair partners and our customers to know that this is a family run business”, says Huston. “I like to think of all our employees as part owners in the company; it’s not the ownership that makes a company its the infrastructure itself: the employees,” he added.

How did a small town boy become the head of the largest carnival company in North America? Huston’s motivation comes from the fact that this is the business he knows, his family knows, and the employees in his organization know.”I love the business and I love what I do,” says Huston. NAME’s staff, helmed by Huston, will continue to grow the company and strive to be better at what they do each day. “We are all excited by this opportunity. It will continue to be one of the leading companies in the industry,” says Huston.
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