Q&A with AAMA – October 2017


Disaster Aid and More

AAMA Topper Outlines Upcoming Annual Event, Encourages Greater Participation

Q: The AAMA Charitable Foundation just donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. How did this plan come about?

Chris Felix

Chris Felix

A: We wanted to do something and, unfortunately, we’ve got a history of disasters to look back on. After Hurricane Sandy, we donated the $25,000 to the American Red Cross so we felt that was the right thing to do this time as well. I would imagine we’ll do the same thing in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Something else we’ve done in the past is work with some of our suppliers and other members to set up a fund to allow for low- or zero-interest financing for operators who need to purchase new equipment. We wanted to minimize their financial struggles as they were trying to rebuild their routes and operations.

Oddly enough, last time, no one took advantage of it. I was really surprised by that. Pete Gustafson went back to review what had been done after hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and found that nobody really took advantage of the fund. But it could be that the industry’s suppliers and finance companies worked directly with their customers on their own, outside of our program. Regardless, we’ve been reaching out to our manufacturing and financial members to say, “Let’s be prepared to do something as an association for the operators who are going to need to buy equipment and rebuild their routes.”

Our distributor partners and manufacturers have all said that they’d be willing to do whatever we can put together to help the operators out, so there’s certainly a desire to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

What else is going on at AAMA?

We’re in the final stages of completing the Lifetime Achievement Award journal for David Cohen. I was actually working on that this morning since it’s about to get sent off to the printer. Then we’ll get focused on the annual meeting agenda and schedule, and really get full speed into that process. Then, of course, the next big push after that will be the Amusement Expo!

By the time readers have their October RePlay’s in hand, the new show website will be fully launched. With it, attendees will be able to work with an interactive floor plan that shows where companies will be on the show floor, find out about the educational sessions, get the schedule of other
events and so on. I’ve seen previews of the new site and it’s night and day from the old show site. It’s been a great joint effort between both associations.

Also by the time your October issue hits, exhibitors will be able to purchase their booth space online; show organizer Brian Glasgow will handle booth placement as he has in the past. We aren’t ready yet to do a select-your-own booth process, but that’s coming (we think at the 2018 show for the 2019 Amusement Expo). I’ve been a strong proponent for selling and allotting booth space for the next convention right on the trade show floor. It’s something I do in other industries all the time, and I think we can get there. But the first step is to at least have an interactive floor plan so the customers could see where booths are going to be and plan their trips ahead of time.

As an example, when I’m at the car wash show for CPI, before the convention ends, I put a deposit down for the next year and I know exactly what my booth number is going to be. I walk away from that show with my booth for the next year already assigned and so we’re ready to go with whatever promotions we want to do. It’s great and I certainly think that we can get there with Amusement Expo. Again, it’s not going to happen for the upcoming show, but we hope to do it for 2019.

We’re also going to have a mobile app for the Amusement Expo this year. Attendees can download it on their phones and be able to plan their meetings and schedules, decide which customers or exhibitors they want to go see and more. It’s certainly an exciting time.

Finally, I think by the time your readers have the October issue, they’ll be able to go to the Amuse­ment Expo site and access the seminar schedule as well. It’s going to be a great program!

As your term as AAMA President is drawing toward its close, what else do you want to accomplish?

As I was working on David Cohen’s Lifetime Achievement Award program this morning, I was again struck by the many charitable things he does outside of our association. He is really amazing. And he’s not alone in that. There are many members who do such things, both with their companies and personally.

I’d certainly like to try to highlight some of those, or leave the next president with the goal of trying to do so. We’re going to go through a lot of corporate goodwill over the next couple of months with Hurricane Harvey and with Hurricane Irma, and I’d like to highlight the things that people are doing more on a personal level. I think it’s important to spotlight the positive things being done by our association membership, if for no other reason than to inspire others to do likewise.

We’ve also talked about AAMA and how we’re trying to raise the image of the association and industry through the Fair Play Pledge. I’d also like to help do that for our members as well, highlighting the positive things they’re doing in their own communities. I’ve said the FPP elevates our association and says very clearly that we stand for something. We should highlight the many positive things that demonstrate what our members stand for, too.

It’s certainly going to be a challenge to find time to do this, but recent events have clearly confirmed for me that it’s important work, whether I get to it or the next president does.

Like I said, it came to the front of my mind this morning when I was working on some of the materials to honor David and saw the sheer breadth of charity work he’s involved with outside of our association. I want to make sure our members are recognized for the many positive things they do.

Chris Felix, National OEM Sales Manager for MEI Conlux/CPI (Crane Payment Innovations), worked for MEI prior to its acquisition by Crane. Felix, who was elected to his two-year term at the AAMA Annual Meeting and Gala in August, has been honored with the group’s President’s and Joe Robbins awards. A U.S. Navy veteran, he served as a Nuclear Reactor Operator aboard the USS Minneapolis St. Paul and the USS Greeneville submarines. When he’s not busy with work or association duties and travel, you might find Chris out training for a marathon.


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