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Jerry Johnston

February 2016

Hail to the Chief

RePlay's Q&A with AMOA President Jerry Johnston

Q: What’s up as we speed toward the Amusement Expo and as your travel-packed AMOA presidency winds down?

A: Of all the happenings on the industry calendar, two of them — both conducted early each year — stand out in terms of the quality and quantity of information/value they deliver: the AMOA State Council Meeting and the AAMA/AMOA Amusement Expo International.

Late last month, the 2016 edition of the State Council meeting was conducted in San Antonio, and it was another resounding success. Why?

Well, it wasn’t just because it included leaders representing more than 25 state organizations around the country…or just because these leaders shared their unique insight and viewpoints…or due to the fact the industry’s most timely, critical issues were aired out…or the presence of several factory execs provided a more complete perspective. No, the biggest reason this meeting was, and continues to be, the networking and information-sharing that are non-stop. This is so valuable for so many.

It’s a 1.5 day immersion in coin-op. With the exception of a few, brief breaks and meals, it’s all about the business of coin-op. There just isn’t any other gathering like the council meeting. And it doesn’t hurt that it is typically held in warm-weather climes in the middle of winter!

And then there’s Expo. Whereas the State Council meeting is a sprint, the annual spring show and related activities is a marathon. But much like the state event, the real value of Expo can be found in the abundance of idea-gathering and networking opportunities. It’s exciting to see all the new equipment, to visit with colleagues during the Gala welcome reception or attend the sessions during the enhanced Education Day program.

I’m looking forward to attending many of the free seminars on Tuesday (March 15) before the startup of the trade show. More non-industry experts have been added to the lineup and there will be a good mix of sessions aimed at both the street side and FEC segments.

As we did last year, the Gala — scheduled for Tuesday evening –– will serve as a fun segue between education and exhibits. By then, most everyone will be in town to enjoy the festive pre-show party.

Even veteran tradesters like me get excited when the trade show opens. There’s nothing better than discovering some new equipment that fits on my route. I’m always impressed with the innovations our manufacturers and suppliers bring to market, even though technology can be challenging for some of us!

Expo will also mark the end of my year as President of AMOA. My company has a lot of projects in play and while I’m looking forward to returning to my routine and “normal” schedule, I’m also really going to miss the action of my frequent travels around the country and my daily involvement in AMOA business. It’s been special and memorable for not only me, but my wife, Carol, too. I’ll try to stay composed through our pre-show leadership and annual membership meetings in Vegas that week.

One of the things I always mentioned during my travels was the Hesch Scholarship program. Of course, the raffle at Expo is what fuels those scholarships that are awarded to students around the country. It’s always exciting to be at the Hesch booth when the raffle winners are being drawn, and I hope everyone will continue to support this great program again this year.

I know we live in an online world. Between online shopping, gaming, banking and Facebook, there are many who just don’t get out of their homes and offices. I admit to being old-school, but there are some things that require human interaction, and I’m a firm believer that to be successful in business, you need face time, and I don’t mean via an iPhone!

When I return from a meeting like the State Council or Expo, I feel energized and enthused about implementing the things I learned by participating in them. Right now, I’m between these two annual industry gems, and Vegas can’t get here soon enough, even for a cagey coin-op connoisseur like me.

I look forward to seeing you there soon.

Jerry Johnston of Amusement Unlimited in Eugene, Oregon, is the new president of AMOA.


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