The International Independent Showmen's Association kicked off its annual trade show today in Gibsonton at the Club's showgrounds. Over the past decade or so, some have complained that the lacked the number of rides that used to be showcased on the grounds.
Looking at the grounds in 2017 however, brought back images of past years when rides proliferated on the grounds. Some say that the boom was the result of ride companies bringing equipment and getting orders. Last year Polish company Kolmax, debuted an elephant ride on the grounds and took dozens of orders as a result of their efforts. Other companies with similar rides, but with out an onsite presence of the ride, were not as successful. Others, such as Tommy Coffing of usedrides.com, pointed to optimism in the industry as a
result of a growing economy and belief that relief from burdensome regulation was on the way. "Since the election November, thing shave been booming, things have been booming," Coffing enthused. "Its going to be a great year, just watch."
Whatever the explanation for the uptick in business, the rides were definitely out in force this year. There were 4 wheels on the grounds and even a carousel, a piece that has not been seen in many years. Battech had 4 rides, Black Widow, Cliffhanger, Zero Gravity and Downdraft, Fredricksen had a full booth again with four slides, Wisdom showcased a Himalaya and an Alien Abduction, Technical Park had a wheel, Kolmax had 3 tea cups, a dragon coaster, a train, a bumper cars a wheel and an elephant. Show stalwarts Rides 4 U and KMG had a whole assembly of equipment as did Dalton, Wadkins, Owen Trailers and, after a 20-year absence, Chance Rides had a booth with seats and drawings of equipment. While there were also plenty of additional equipment, lots of food trailers and games and equipment, the mood at the show was generally positive, despite a relatively light amount of traffic.
Jared Davis of Wisdom Manufacturing and RideParts.com, was very enthusiastic about Wisdom's agreement to manufacture and sell the Frog Hopper ride, formerly made by S&S Power.
The company will service and build the rides for the park and carnival market in an agreement with S&S Power. The first Wisdom-built model will go to Tony Talley of Triple T amusements of Texas. The ride will be delivered in about 45 days and Davis reports strong interest from other sectors.
"We've had a very good response," said Davis. The company faces a few new challenges dealing with some of the larger corporate entities, instead of the more closely held family carnivals and amusement parks. It recently took almost two months for the company to just get entered into the system of a large corporation before the buy order could be made, a big change in culture from some carnivals where the owner may make a snap decision on a purchase.
The deal to start manufacturing the Fog Hopper occurred when Len Sold of Rides 4 U introduced Wisdom and S&S. According to Davis, Wisdom, saw an opportunity with a ride that fit into their existing product line and manufacturing capabilities and S&S, a company focused largely on large coasters and Drop Towers, the ride did not fit well into their production line anymore.
As a result of the deal, Wisdom has now ventured overseas including Japan, Korea, England and Germany for overhauls of existing rides and they are exploring sales in markets they haven't had a large presence in before.
Other Frog hopper deals are in the works and Davis believes the ride is going to be "a big hit."
Other exciting news from Wisdom includes the delivery of the first Y-Factor ride in March with a second to follow soon thereafter. The Y-Factor is the much-anticipated new offering from Wisdom. Three deliveries of the ride are planned for this year alone.
Outside on the Wisdom lot, the Alien Abduction was sold to Jake Clements of Triple Treat Amusements of Ohio, and the Himalaya was being delivered to Billy Reiss' Blue Sky Amusements of New York.
Wisdom recently shipped a new Cobra coaster to Saudi Arabia to replace an older model the company decided not to refurbish and just get a new model.
Two new Tornados are being readied for shipment, one to a Family Entertainment Centers and one to a park. In all, over 200 Tornados have been sold by the company.
The company has also been working on 3 or 4 ride refurbishments this year. While they prefer to do their own equipment, Wisdom has taken on some projects manufactured by other ride companies.
Davis' own Rideparts.com is celebrating 6 years in the business, having started in 2011. Davis reported that the company is doing well even though the bulk of their orders remain phone sales and not through the website as originally planned. Davis said customers still like the personal touch of a salesman on the other end of the line.
The company was hit with some tragedy when long-time employee Water Williams passed away this past year. Williams, who had 30+ years with Wisdom family companies, was a mainstay of the phone room, selling parts, packing them after sales and shipping them to guests. He retained an expansive memory for facts and figures and Davis says he is sorely missed at the shop.
Paula Trujillo, who worked with Williams for many years before his death, was hired to replace Williams in his role of phone sales and ordering. Trujillo is a veteran herself, having served with the company for 15 years before assuming the lead position.
In late breaking news, Carnivalwarehouse was tipped that Wisdom had just closed a deal today on a brand new ride. The ride is a full sized version of the company's Beetle Bobs (a Flying Bobs style attraction). The adult thrill ride will travel on only one trailer, a major breakthrough for transporting the attraction. Wisdom said he is finalizing plans for a new racking system for the cars, a sticking point for getting the ride down to a one-trailer piece. Wisdom declined to reveal the purchaser of the new attraction.
Stay tuned for coverage of day 2 of the trade show.
2017 IISF Trade Show Coverage