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Powers and Thomas Serving Up A Route Family Style
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Ron Thomas, Co-Owner of Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment, is pleased to announce that his company will be joining Powers Great American Midways (PGAM) for seven locations on the PGAM route. While they will remain separate entities, the two companies will combine for about fifteen weeks out of the year.

For Thomas and co-owner Eddie Powers, joining PGAM is a family affair. Eddie Powers is PGAM owner, Corky Powers' son, and Ron Thomas is married to Corky's daughter, Tracy. “Combining our two companies to work together for a few spots is a great way to both get the family working together again while also helping both of our respective companies in the labor department,” says Thomas. Like most companies in the outdoor amusement business, Powers & Thomas and PGAM are struggling to find qualified, reliable American employees while still waiting on H2B employees to arrive at the time of publication in late May.

Together, PGAM and Powers & Thomas will set up at the Capital Plaza Mall in Maryland, the Big Butler fair in Pennsylvania, the Montgomery County Fair in Maryland, the Dutchess County Fair in New York, the Great Allentown Fair in Pennsylvania, the Cabarrus County Fair in North Carolina, and the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair in North Carolina.

This winter, the families making up PGAM and Powers & Thomas were discussing the upcoming season along with challenges in the industry, and the idea to combine forces started to become a reality. While this partnership is industry news, it's nothing new for Thomas to work with the Powers family. “We all worked together for about thirty-seven years and then split up and formed Powers &Thomas about eight years ago,” says Thomas. Coming together means less pressure on both companies to put up as many rides, and provides more variety for fairgoers at the PGAM locations while allowing Powers & Thomas to take part in some larger, well-established spots. “It's a win-win for both companies,” says Thomas.

In addition to obvious changes to their route, the Powers & Thomas team has focused on adding some new equipment and selling some of their smaller pieces. “We've sold some equipment and added some things so as to not have conflicting equipment with PGAM,” says Thomas. Powers & Thomas had already ordered a new KMG Freak Out to be delivered this year. They also purchased and have taken delivery of a Wisdom Genesis ride as well as a Kolmax Dumbo ride and a dragon coaster. “All the rides are beautiful and great additions to our midway,” says Thomas.

Because they planned to do a lot of selling, the winter was filled with refurbishment projects so Powers & Thomas could punch up the rides prior to sales. When repainting and maintenance were commonplace, the company also took on some more ambitious projects. “We refurbished our Chance thirty-six foot carousel, our Dalton tractor rides, some semi trucks, our monster trucks ride, and our Speed,” says Thomas. Perhaps the most impressive project was taken on by Thomas' Father, Ron Thomas Sr., who built a Tilt-A-Whirl Trailer from scratch. “He built it from just a set of wheels and an axle. He's seventy-five years old. It's pretty amazing,” says Thomas. Ron Thomas Sr. and his Wife, Marie, booked onto the PGAM route fifty years ago with a mouse game which they still operate on the midway today.

At the time of this interview in late May, the 2022 season was going well for the Powers & Thomas team. “Our locations are doing as well or better than 2021 and we're hoping that will continue. However, after covid, we're just happy to be working at all,” says Thomas. Although changing a bit this season, the typical Powers & Thomas route runs through most of the East Coast to include NY, PA, NY, VA, MD, and NC. “This year our last location, which we will be playing ourselves, takes us to Georgia before we head back to our shop in Wilmington, NC and our shop in Holly Ridge,” says Thomas.

Despite a positive start to the season, in late May, employee issues remained as Powers & Thomas only received two of the twenty-five to thirty H2B employees they normally get. “We're hoping to get everybody else anytime now. Everything has been done on our end so we're just waiting on Congress. We're working our butts off right now. Luckily, Corky helped us out and gave us a few of his guys so we have five people, but there's a big difference between five and twenty-five,” says Thomas.

Currently, Powers & Thomas travel with about twenty-four pieces and about seventeen games. “As we move forward, we sell some older stuff and buy new pieces fitting for larger spots,” says Thomas. Recently, the team sold their Zoomer, Hurricane, and kiddie cycles rides.

While they've only been a company for a short time, Powers & Thomas have experienced a lot of change over their eight year journey. They began by purchasing the Swank Steel City Shows route, based out of Pittsburgh. In their second season, they added about ten new places to their route as their show became a bit too big for some of their locations. A couple years later, a hurricane toppled part of the Powers & Thomas midway, causing damage to some of their equipment. “We've certainly had an interesting run and we finally felt like we had a solid Spring, Summer, and Fall route and now everything is turned upside down again,” laughed Thomas. “This is a great change and a really great thing for both companies and our families.”
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