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Issue Date: Vol. 46, No. 12, December 2006, Posted On: 12/16/2006

Theisen Vending Co. Strengthens Its Domestic Kiddie Ride Manufacturing Business

Nick Montano

GOLDEN VALLEY, MN — Theisen Vending Co. said it is strengthening its manufacturing business to develop competitively priced kiddie ride equipment for the American market. The company’s expanding line will complement the interactive and licensed character rides it distributes for Jolly Roger, the UK-based kiddie ride manufacturing division of Photo-Me International Plc.

The Minnesota company has partnered with a local fiberglass and gel-coating specialist to aid production. A full line of parts and expert service department supports the new kiddie line.

Theisen Vending’s kiddie ride sales manager, Mike Ruegemer, observed that the increasingly unfavorable exchange rate of the sliding U.S. dollar against the British pound and euro, and the high costs of video-based motion simulator rides, has created stronger demand for basic kiddie rides.

“The Jolly Roger rides are needed to benefit the higher-end locations to justify the elevated price points,” Ruegemer said. “But costs to the operator have escalated. Therefore the production of quality, low-cost rides made domestically is considered necessary to balance the market. We want to offer customers a much-needed alternative with a greater return on investment.”

The Theisen Vending official also pointed out that there’s a greater need for outdoor rides and themes that speak to American kids. “Our marketing focus is on identifying concepts that will fit best in American culture,” Ruegemer said.

To that end, the company has developed five new kiddie rides for American operators. T-Bone Bull and Sundance horse are custom-painted models that are likely to become American classics. The Trail Boss all-terrain vehicle, TNT Turbo roadster and Tomcat snowmobile are replicas that have wide appeal among young patrons.

Each model is installed on a standard base made by Theisen Vending. The controls consist of one action button and two coin mechanisms, lending to the line’s simplicity of design.

Ruegemer reports that the new line’s earnings in some cases are exceeding those generated by the more complex interactive rides. He said T-Bone and Trail Boss are proving to be exceptional performers.

Inspired by the growing popularity of professional bull riding, T-Bone was produced from a hand-carved model by a Theisen Vending employee. On the drawing board for more than a year, the bull-riding reproduction was developed in-house, where the body was cast for production molds used for high-quantity manufacturing runs offsite.

Founded in 1960, Theisen Vending Co. is the nation’s largest kiddie ride supplier. The company also is a service provider in the amusement and full-line and bulk vending segments. It is based at 2335 Nevada Ave. North, Golden Valley, MN 55427; tel. (800) 633-3436; theisenvending.com.

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