The 44th annual Trade Show and Extravaganza kicked off in Gibsonton, FL Tuesday at 10 am at the IISA trade show grounds. Beautiful weather greeted attendees as the week of shows and seminars began.
Many come to the show for what is new and exciting as well as catching up with old friends making new deals. Wisdom Industries had a new version of an old ride, the Rampage, that garnered a lot of attention. The new version of the tall double wheel now has colorful seating, brilliant lights and new safety features.
Next door to Wisdom, A.R.M was promoting their new ride for 2013, the Frenzy. The new ride will debut on Bates Brothers Amusements this season. The ride stands 65 feet tall and has an 80 foot swing, drawing 4 Gs to the bottom. The ride holds twelve passengers with over the shoulder harnesses. The back arm slopes forward at the top to keep riders from extending their feet and arms and touching the center.
The Frenzy will have an extensive light package with several options for prospective buyers.
Eric Bates is one of only a few in the industry who has successfully walked both sides of the fence as both a ride operator and manufacturer. He said working both sides makes him uniquely aware of the problems faced by showmen and manufacturers alike. One of advantages of being a show owner and a ride manufacturer is that there is always at least one customer for a newly introduced ride and if he gets really lucky, he can sell a second to his brother Gary who is a fellow show owner in Ohio.
Bates said he has four tentative orders for the ride but all are waiting to see the ride's performance on his midway this year. Bates will likely book the ride at some larger fairs to gauge its position on a large midway. The ride will be on display at the end of the season at the IAAPA convention.
Look for the Frenzy on a midway near you this summer!
Steve Lisko has been in the carnival business with his family for his whole life. He ran one of the units of Lisko Shows working on the East Coast and Ohio before heading south to Florida every year. In 2012, Lisko purchased the route of Brown's Amusements in Ohio, and ventured out on his own with 10 rides to start the show. He added an Eli Hy-5 , Funhouse and Sizzler among other pieces and his show should number about 18 rides when the season begins up north in 2013.
Lisko's route takes him to Toledo, Cleveland and Youngstown before heading south to Florida in October. Last year, Lisko closed on Sunday in Ohio and opened on Friday in West Palm Beach FL. He actually spends more time in Florida than anywhere else during the season.
Lisko's route consists mainly of church dates and city festivals with a smattering of county fairs. He is hoping to add to that number in the near future.
Lisko's family operates 5 food stands on show and he carries game concessions and straight sales as needed. Lisko will open again in Ohio at the end of April.
Toy Factory,s Chaz - a lifetime of selling stock
Very few people go by only one name. The list isn't long. Madonna, Cher, Prince and in the concession business there is Chaz. Chaz started working for Allentown Toy Co. at 18 years old when he delivered a truckload of stock to Louie Herbst at the Vermont State Fair in Rutland. "Nobody asked how old I was", said Chaz. "Monty Hertz (owner of Allentown Toy) just asked me 'Can you drive that?' and away I went", he added.
After his first successful run, he was tasked with several other projects by Hertz. At that time, much of the business was done off the truck. "A few guys called in, but most times, I sold the stock out of the truck", Said Chaz.
For 28 years at Allentown, Chaz could be found traveling in his semi, selling stock to concessionaires at fairs and carnivals. One day, a dispute with Hertz led him to jump to the other side and actually operate games himself. While picking up a load of glass from Ohio, Chaz was stopped at a scale and fined $125, paying the fine out of his pocket. When he went to get reimbursed by Hertz, Hertz said the blame lay with Chaz for carrying the heavy load and he refused to reimburse him.
Chaz got in touch with his friend Louie Herbst, who was jumping to Brockton, MA from Cementon, PA and he joined him as a partner in several games. Chaz said he was a natural at the game business and operated bushels, machine guns and apple darts on the Million Dollar Midway and Royal American Shows for the next five years.
At the conclusion of the five years, Chaz's life changed drastically. "I made the mistake of getting married", he lamented. With marriage came a regular job as a Longshoreman at Port Elizabeth, moving out of the industry he loved. After three years of marriage, and following his eventual divorce, Chaz reached out to Hertz at Allentown and he was given his job back.
Chaz remained with Allentown from 1990 through 2005 when a call from a very persuasive friend, luring him into making a change once again. Sid Karmia had started Toy Factory, LLC and was looking for top salespeople. He called Chaz after a strong recommendation from concessionaire Duke Trombetti and Sid made Chaz a deal he couldn't refuse.
Chaz, now working largely from home, heads to work in a very casual manner. "Where else can I go to work in my bathrobe without taking a shower?", Chaz asked. He still gets out to events to visit customers, promote new products and do some accounts receivable.
Chaz is very proud of the friendships he has developed with customers over the years. Dave Potopas, Jeremy Thomas, Louie Herbst, Steve Ianni, Bobby McKnight and Dale Bush have all been customers of his for several decades. Some relationships have even lasted several generations. Chaz sells to Dale Negus as he did his father before him and his grandfather before his father. He said he has also sold to Kitty Long and Penwood Shows since she was a little girl. For over 40 years, he has made his mark on the stock business.
CLICK HERE to view the 2013 IISF Trade Show Photo Gallery