Operator-Driven Company Hits the Street With Find A Key and Buzz & Win
The Really Big Crane Company is based on the really big idea of building games designed with the street operator in mind. The company, founded four years ago, is run by a group of operators and industry pros with combined decades of experience in street operations and manufacturing.
Among the founding principals are operators Rick LaFleur of I.F. LaFleur & Son of Devils Lake, N.D. (who is also a past AMOA president) and Chip and Terry O’Hara of Midwest Coin Concepts, Waite Park, Minn., and longtime industry sales exec Mark Struhs. Play Mechanix, Inc. would later join the enterprise, providing its design and engineering expertise.
“We started the company using the perspective and knowledge of operators,” said Struhs, who is also sales manager for Raw Thrills. “It goes back to the idea of creating products that have a tremendous amount of operator input, specifically the street operator.”
Looking for solutions focused on route operations that make sense was “the kernel of the idea of where the company started from,” Struhs continued. “We’re bringing a lot of different facets of knowledge to the table.”
This level of street operator-oriented design detail encompasses game aspects as common sense as assuring all games are small enough to fit through a standard doorway to the more sophisticated easy-to-program software design.
At present, the company has two titles available. The first, Find A Key, is a crane in which a key is attached to a prize or placed inside an egg that unlocks one of four doors at the bottom of the machine for a larger prize. Part of the fun is a secondary game using LED chase lights. The player is challenged to stop the lights at a particular point to win a free play.
A full-featured crane, Find A Key measures a compact 23” x 26” x 65” and weighs a tidy 218 lbs. It is, according to the manufacturer, light and compact enough for a one-man install. The unit also offers a full complement of LED lighting, adjustable claw strength, and winner-every-time option. The operator programming is accomplished via a screen on the player control panel that negates the need to crouch down to a service door.
According to LaFleur, the crane boasts many of the features that make it particularly attractive to street operators. “Find A Key is compact and appealing to different venue types. The locations in which you can place the crane is expanded, simply because it is very compact, presents itself well, and doesn’t block line of site in a location,” he said.
“Operators are fighting for real estate and it’s usually based on size and presentation. For instance, for anyone who is running a bulk vending route, this is right in their wheelhouse. This is the kind of footprint they have already established in their locations,” LaFleur declared.
The second product rolled out by the company is Buzz & Win, a more traditional crane. Somewhat larger than Find A Key, Buzz & Win measures 34.25” x 35.5” x 78.75” and weighs in at 280 lbs.
The carnival-themed crane also features a full complement of LED lighting and can handle standard-sized plush prizes with a claw pre-set to accommodate a 5” to 9” prize.
As Struhs noted, The Really Big Crane Company has plans for machines far beyond the recent rollouts. Although hesitant to discuss future games, both LaFleur and Struhs say they are committed to providing market relevant games to the street operator.
“We think the street operator has been somewhat neglected,” Struhs said, “and there lies an opportunity because we see that as a very vibrant and relevant path for a lot of success for a long time.”