Deep River Waterpark/Lake County Parks Department
Crown Point, Indiana - USA
Featured in "World Waterpark Magazine," January 2018
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
I started in maintenance as a senior in high school in 2004, and stuck around all throughout college moving into different positions. I have a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics and a master’s degree in technology. After being Operations Manager for three years, I became General Manager.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I am currently a CPO, as well as being Servsafe certified.
WHAT HONORS, AWARDS OR SPECIAL RECOGNITION HAVE YOU ACHIEVED?
I’ve had the honor of speaking twice at WWA Shows.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
I’ve always loved amusement parks and waterparks. Summer vacations as a kid involved traveling to various parks and riding all the new rides. So when it came time to get a job growing up, naturally I wanted to work at the waterpark. I’ve loved it ever since. To this day after the season ends, my wife and I usually travel to other amusement parks and waterparks. This year alone we visited six different parks in the span of two weeks. So I’ve always been that person who loves the industry!
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
As a fan of waterparks, I love how everything is constantly changing, from what’s popular to what the newest, latest, greatest rides are. Having a technology background, I also love seeing technology really starting to be integrated heavily into parks to not only improve guest experiences, but improve the operational side as well. As an operator, I like being able to provide someone with their escape away from everyday life for the brief time they spend at our facilities.
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
Even though I’ve never met them, I’ve always been inspired by the Koch family and Holiday World. Going from a small park in a small town, to a park that’s known worldwide in a relative short amount of time is something that I’ve always found absolutely fascinating.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER?
Recruiting and keeping great team members is always challenging. Being seasonal it’s hard to find and retain those people year after year.
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
Really loving what I do, and wanting to put the best product out there for the customers helps keep me motivated. Staying focused comes from the attention to the details that it takes to provide them with that experience.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
If you like always being outside and can remain extremely flexible, as you never know what your day is going to bring, then you will be able to succeed in the industry.
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
I usually always read World Waterpark Magazine
as soon as they come out. I also follow a couple of amusement park and waterpark websites to keep up to date on all the latest industry news.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
My favorite part is that every day is different. In one day, I could be out in the park helping rebuild a bridge, working on an IT problem with our POS system and going to budget and planning meetings. Having that variety makes the day go by fast and keeps things from getting repetitive.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
I originally went to college for mechanical engineering, as I wanted to design roller coasters. However, after reaching out to designers and learning that there are only a handful of people in the world who actually do that, I changed my mind. But I would have to say it’s still a dream of mine to design roller coasters or waterslides.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
Volunteering at the WWA Show at the MGM Grand back in 2008 was my first experience. It was a great way to meet lots of people and learn about the industry. Volunteering also allowed me free registration, which was a great way to experience my first show since I paid my own way, as I was still part time and had just graduated college.
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
I’ve recently started to like woodworking. Last winter I bought and refinished a five-foot-long, 250-pound piece of reclaimed bowling alley and turned it into our kitchen table.