RePlay is sad to report that Creative Works founder Jeff Schilling passed away Sunday, July 26, after courageously battling cancer for almost four years.
Schilling took inspiration from his entrepreneurial grandfather and started Creative Works in 1997. Working in the laser tag industry at the time, he said he found most tag arenas to be sterile spaces, lacking imagination and creativity.
He saw an opportunity to reimagine and build a much better game environment, transforming these static spaces into epic, movie-style sets where guests could become the heroes of their own journey. These memorable, immersive experiences delivered the “WOW Effect,” which would become the Creative Works cornerstone over the next two decades.
Under Schilling’s leadership, the company expanded its product line to include many other attractions like indoor mini-golf, escape rooms, laser mazes, VR and esports, working with numerous business owners all over the world.
Over time, Schilling’s kitchen-table idea has grown as well, now with over 60 employees and office and production space totaling close to 50,000 sq. ft. The company estimates their attractions connect with tens of millions of people each year.
Jeff Schilling also believed in empowering, educating and inspiring others in the industry. In 2011, he started the LaserTAG360 program, which today is called Amusement 360. These events were designed to bring the industry’s best together to educate, inspire, and share the tools for success.
Wrote the company: “Jeff’s impact went far beyond the business itself. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he was determined to share a message of positivity with those around him. He traveled the world to learn from the best leaders in business, health, and mental strength. These lessons gave him a sense of gratitude for every moment, and he encouraged others to view life through this lens.
“As he stated in a presentation during the 2019 F2FEC event, ‘When you have gratitude and appreciation, much can be done, much can be gained, and much can be shared.’”
They added that Schilling never hesitated to share. He became a mentor to others and helped foster their personal growth to create a lasting impact and force for good. His legacy will live on through his wife Kimberly and the charity the two of them started in his final days. RePlay will publish details about this charity when they become available.
Armando Lanuti, president of Creative Works, will continue to lead the company and build upon the vision the late Schilling started over 22 years ago. The company can be found online at www.thewoweffect.com.