Daytona Beach, Florida - USA
Featured in World Waterpark Magazine
, February 2020
WHAT IS YOUR EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE?
I began my career in the Aquatics Industry as a lifeguard at Cedar Point’s Soak City while I was attending college at Kent State. Cedar Fair gave me the opportunity to move out to California to help open Knott’s Soak City Orange County, then Knott’s Soak City San Diego. I became the General Manager of Knott’s Soak City Palm Springs in 2007. After a few years, I was back in San Diego as General Manager until the property was sold in 2012. I then took over the Director of Operations at California’s Great America until I left Cedar Fair at the end of 2015. I joined United Parks at that time, and after a quick stop at Hydro Adventures in Missouri, I became the General Manager of Daytona Lagoon in 2017.
WHAT CERTIFICATION OR LICENSING DO YOU HAVE?
I have held my CPO certification for many years and have been an Ellis & Associates Instructor since 2000.
WHAT HONORS, AWARDS OR SPECIAL RECOGNITION HAVE YOU ACHIEVED?
My favorite achievement was beating Will Morey for the best presentation at Safety School.
WHAT MADE YOU GO INTO THIS FIELD?
After I had the opportunity to move to California to work at Knott’s Berry Farm, I knew it was the business for me.
WHAT ASPECT OF THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY DO YOU LIKE BEST?
I really enjoy working at a place where people go to to have fun, as well as a place where I can get out and enjoy my time with the guests and employees.
WHO HAS MOST INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
There have been so many people in my career that have inspired me over the years. Bill Spehn hired me and gave me the opportunities for growth at Cedar Point, Jack Falfas pushed for me to join him in California and really helped me and supported me through my growth in the company. Raffi Kaprelyan, as well as a lot of others at Knott’s Berry Farm, helped me grow in many different areas. I worked for Raul Rehnborg for many years; his drive and ambition helped support me around every turn. Barrett Byers trusted me and moved to California to help make my first year as a GM a record-breaking year at Palm Springs. And Clayton Lawrence and his team at Great America took me into the entertainment world and taught me that even a dream on a napkin can come to life. There were so many more that inspired me. I wish I could name them all.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN YOUR WATERPARK CAREER?
Hurricanes! Every year you wait to see if they are going to impact your business and your bottom line. There is so much prep that needs to be done. Then you sit and wait hoping that nothing happens. Then you try to get back open as soon as you can. It’s a mind game...
HOW DO YOU KEEP FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?
The best way for me is to get out of my office and walk the park. Being able to talk to people that really appreciate the work we put in to our facility reminds me why I do this and helps me stay on task to make our facility the best it can be.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE WATERPARK INDUSTRY?
If you are really interested in the industry, work hard every day and show that you are motivated and really care about your facility. Then take every opportunity to learn as much as you can outside of your comfort area. The more you know about aquatics, maintenance, finance, guest service and human resources, the more valuable you will be as you move along in your career.
WHAT BOOKS OR PUBLICATIONS DO YOU RELY ON MOST FOR INSPIRATION OR MOTIVATION?
I look forward to World Waterpark Magazin
e; I love seeing everything that is going on in the industry. I also like to read different guest service books. Each one has a totally different view on it, but each one always offers great ideas that can be implemented at the park.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF YOUR JOB?
Every day is a different day at the park. I get to talk to different guests and deal with different situations every time I go to work.
WHAT CAREER OR BUSINESS WOULD YOU CONSIDER IF YOU WERE STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN?
Possibly a physical education teacher. I could not spend 8 hours a day every day in an office, plus then I would get summers off!
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE WWA?
My first real involvement with the WWA was in Palm Springs; we had an opportunity to throw an evening event for the WWA Show.
WHAT IS SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOU THAT FEW KNOW OR WOULD GUESS?
I have a cat named TJ, it stands for Tyler Junior. I didn’t name him that though. My employees in Palm Springs named him for me.