Amusement Ride Designer and Builder Thriving After COVID Shutdown with Assistance from the Florida SBDC at UCF
December 16, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Hal Thayer, Communications Director, FSBDC at UCF, 407.420.4850 or HThayer@ucf.edu
John Finnegan, Consultant, FSBDC Ay UCF, 407.579.2111 or John.Finnegan@ucf.edu
Orlando, FL – Entrepreneurs and small business owners do not have a lot of time and resources to waste – in good times or bad – but especially when times are challenging. When COVID-19 brought the theme park industry to its knees, Jeff Pike, President of Skyline Attractions, his partners, and the whole team wanted to determine the best available options to push forward and where to find critical resources to help the company get to the other side of the pandemic. They turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) and its CARES Act-funded Business Recovery Team initiative for assistance.
“Skyline Attractions designs and builds fun things,” Pike is pleased to say. “We build roller coasters; we design and consult for amusement parks and their manufacturing representatives around the world. In fact, we’ve implemented or designed more than 25 major amusement attractions around the globe through Skyline and some of our partners. What makes us different is that we commit in our charter to bring something new to the amusement industry every year. And we actually achieve that goal, every year bringing a new attraction, something interesting, something fun; sometimes something huge, sometimes not, but always something remarkable and memorable.” Skyline’s promise to its clients is to take entertainment rides from imagination to innovation, and the company delivers on this pledge annually.
“We sought assistance from the FSBDC when we realized that, even with our strategy of producing something new every year, there would be times when we’d need to pivot or better use our talents when things weren’t running so well in the amusement industry,” recalls Pike. “When there’s a slowdown, especially like at the beginning of COVID, we needed to understand what our options were for marketing, for finance, for outreach. When we started working with the FSBDC, I was personally shocked at the breadth of knowledge there. We’d get on a call and there would be up to seven people all dedicated to just helping us with their unique knowledge. And we weren’t paying a cent for it.”
“This wasn’t a group of suits staring down their noses at you,” Pike continues. “It was a cooperative discussion that was really helping us figure things out. It was great.” Specific areas of FSBDC assistance included how to do business internationally; developing a marketing plan to reach industrial customers; and even producing a pitch for potential investors. “What was so refreshing was these were not ‘sit down and be lectured to’ type things. Our meetings were truly interactive and useful.”
“There was a period when, truth be told, it was a really difficult time for us both financially and as a small business owner because it affects you personally,” Pike went on. “But we got through that. We took the advice of the FSBDC on how to pivot, how to outreach and it brought us through. And today there’s good news! In the past month, we have booked another $3.5 million in contracts. We went from ‘not sure if we’re going to make payroll’ to bringing in the kind of business we know we’re capable of. The FSBDC helped us all along that way. It’s a free resource that was and is tremendously valuable to us. All I can say is it’s an extraordinary benefit,” Pike concludes.
For information about Skyline Attractions, please visit https://skylineattractions.com/
— FSBDC —
About the FSBDC at UCF
Hosted by the University of Central Florida (UCF), and with its main office in the National Entrepreneur Center located at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF) is part of the UCF Office of Partnership & Innovation and the Florida SBDC Network.
The Florida SBDC at UCF provides aspiring and existing small businesses with no-cost consulting, low-cost training, and access to business data and research resources. In addition to its core service offering, the Florida SBDC at UCF also offers specialized services to qualifying companies, including capital access, market growth, government contracting, international trade, business continuation, cybersecurity, disaster planning and recovery, and more. The FSBDC at UCF serves an eight-county area that includes Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Sumter, and Volusia counties and maintains 9 service centers across Central Florida.
In 2020, the FSBDC at UCF served more than 2,700 entrepreneurs in Central Florida with consulting services, resulting in more than 10,000 jobs created, retained or saved; $1.2 billion in sales growth; $59.1 million in capital formation; $53.4 million in government contract awards; and 86 new businesses started. For more information, please visit www.sbdcorlando.com.
About the Florida SBDC Network
For over forty years, the Florida SBDC Network, the state’s principal provider of business assistance [Fl. Stat. 288.001], has nourished a statewide partnership between higher education and economic development to provide existing and emerging small and medium-sized business owners with management and knowledge resources that enable overall growth, increased profitability, and economic prosperity for Florida’s economy.
In 2020, Florida SBDCs provided 162,519 hours of professional business consulting to more than 24,100 client businesses, resulting in almost 38,000 jobs impacted; $4.4 billion in sales generated; $488 million in government contracts acquired; and $553.5 million in capital accessed.
A statewide network of over 40 offices, the Florida SBDC is funded in part by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, State of Florida and other private and public partners. The Florida SBDC Network, headquartered at the University of West Florida, is nationally accredited by the Association of SBDCs and is a 2016 recipient of the President’s E Award for Export Service. Florida SBDC services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Language assistance services are available for individuals with limited English proficiency. For more information, please visit www.FloridaSBDC.org.