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/