When Noel Carter, owner of Wake Island near Sacramento, Calif. — the largest watersports park on the West Coast — realized he got what he paid for with the installation of substandard giant inflatables from a generic manufacturer in China, he needed to do something fast.
So he turned to Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS).
The professionals at CRS in Verona, Wis., helped transform Wake Island into a more thrilling, more colorful and more memorable experience.
More than 50 giant blue and green structures — slides, towers, wiggle bridges, ramps, a trampoline, a water totter, balance beams, tunnels, monkey bars, hurdles, domes, swings and more — form modular obstacle courses on the water and make for challenging floating fun, safe and exciting play, and what Carter calls a “visually intense” experience.
“With the Sports Park, a picture tells a thousand words,” Carter says. “This thing advertises itself.”
What makes Wake Island even more special is that it’s among the first of its kind in the United States to embrace the emerging trend of Water-Based Family Entertainment Centers™, or WBFEC™.
The WBFEC market will only get bigger, according to Ron Romens, president of CRS, which is pioneering the concept. Customized for each location and budget, a WBFEC can turn any location — a lake, waterfront, marina or even parcel of unused land— into a revenue-generating attraction.
“This is definitely a trend,” Romens says. “People don’t forget this type of recreation, which encourages active play, social interaction and exciting but safe experiences. There’s nothing else like it in the marketplace.”
CRS worked with Carter to understand his business goals and created a tailored plan that met his needs. The plan featured a strategy focused on creating easy entry and exits, varying degrees of challenge and integrating differing rotations of play to encourage repeat visits. Wake Island’s Sports Park was built for success using a high degree of engineering and technical know-how to create a self-directed experience that keeps guests coming back for more.
Through a consultative approach and providing expert input every step of the way, CRS has helped customers like Carter design facilities to promote business growth. With knowledge and advice for developing and improving hours of operation, throughput, usage fees, waiver information and check-in processes, CRS offers solutions beyond the equipment.
“We are a solutions provider,” Romens says. “Our primary objective is to help make our customers’ businesses wildly successful. We preserve what they have already created by proposing solutions to make operations more efficient and fresher, while increasing per capita revenues and minimizing owner risk, liability, downtime and staffing needs. When we are successful helping our customers be successful, we have delivered value.”
Carter is certainly a believer.
“You’ve got a professional with you from the beginning,” he says about the personalized, service-oriented experience of working with CRS. “It’s that kind of partnership that is extremely important in this type of business. You learn so much so fast. And while it might cost you more, you will save a lot in the end.”
Robert Cirjak, Wibit’s Germany-based CEO, says that many of his customers around the world have replaced what he calls substandard, unsafe and noncompliant equipment with Wibit products. “We have customers in 70 countries,” he says. “We receive a lot of calls from people in the United States saying, ‘We made the wrong decision.’ Our relationship with CRS benefits everyone.”
“You can go to Wal-Mart and buy a toy that’s manufactured in China, and the instructions are very minimal and the quality might be questionable,” Carter says, explaining his experience with the first set of inflatables made in China that he installed in early 2015 and removed that September. “It was definitely a trial and error process.”
With the confusion created by imitation products from manufacturers in China and other countries, CRS is dedicated to educating the U.S. market by providing comprehensive instruction and training for facility owners who want to operate best-in-class aquatics sports parks.
Since Wake Island’s initial upgrade, CRS has added more equipment to expand the facility’s evolving waterplay environment. Romens now points to Wake Island as an example of the right way to create and market water-based family entertainment centers that deliver unique guest experiences and maximize ROI.
“Wake Island is a leader in this emerging category, and we’re proud to be part of it,” Romens says.
“There a huge added value in the ease of the buying process and sharing of knowledge when you’re working with people who speak your language and operate in the same country as you do,” Carter says. “That kind of support is huge for new customers entering the market. I’d recommend CRS and the value they provide, because you need to do things right.”
About Commercial Recreation Specialists
CRS is headquartered in Verona, Wis., with representatives in New Jersey and Minnesota. It serves customers throughout the United States and the Caribbean. With over 40 years of combined industry experience, CRS not only supplies the highest quality equipment, it also offers design, planning, installation and operations services. It provides careful analysis of each client’s facility and business goals in order to achieve the best recreation solution possible. CRS delivers unparalleled industry knowledge and proven success in the commercial recreation market with clients including municipalities, schools, YMCAs, athletic facilities, sports venues, amusement parks, family entertainment centers, campgrounds, resorts, summer camps, zoos and other recreation venues.