Based out of Colton, Calif., Helm & Sons Amusements provides amusement rides and attractions to fairs, festivals, community events, corporate rentals, and movie productions throughout the state of California, including the Los Angeles area. Safety is a proud focus of the company, from modern rides to colorful park style amenities such as benches and landscaped rest areas. Helm & Sons includes bright, colorful entrances to the midway and rides, as well as providing plants, other greenery, fountains, and even waterfalls. The company is devoted to providing the best looking attractions to its wide range of customers.
According to owner Davey Helm, this year brought many new varieties of entertainment to the carnival. “Our new rides include a remix-themed ride, The Insomniac, which is geared towards working at EDC every year, and a large 60' diameter Flying Elephants ride from the Czech Republic; a tea cup ride that's large enough for 24 adults in one cycle to ride, and a custom Helm and Sons themed toddler inflatable for the under 42” riders at the show.”
Adding to the mix of new rides is a brand-new attraction, a Helm and Sons circus, and four other free new midway attractions. “We have a Bubba Bear Band animatronic show, a Dinoland exhibit, and a fully automated Stinson Band Organ — all of them free on the midway.” All offer immersive, fun experiences for guests; high quality attractions that give repeated and lively “performances,” from the country music jamboree of Bubba Bear to the dinosaurs that awe little and big kids alike.
These serve as strong additions to classics like the Century Wheel or the high-flying German-built Wave Swinger, and the Grand Carousel, which is a showpiece on the midway.
Besides the myriad of new rides and attractions, there's a change afoot in ticket pricing too, Helm explains. “Ticket prices are .50 cents each with the number for each ride to raise by one for kiddie rides and two for adults this year, along with wristbands to jump to $35 in most locations.”
Helm says his largest grossing fair is Paso Robles. “We are coming up on our 3rd year there while setting all-time grossing records in consecutive years,” he attests. “We're looking to continue to grow our crown jewel.”
He adds “We've done EDC shows and Camp Flog Gnaw and Coachella as three of the largest concert and carnival events. Those spots are a hybrid for traditional carnivals vs. normal locations, as we're built into the ticket price there and all attendees ride free.”
But it's not just the rides, attractions, and events that Helm and Sons are working hard to expand. Their marketing and branding techniques have grown as well, and have kept up with the needs for strong digital media in today's marketing world. The company offers a wide range of promotions, events and sponsor tie-in capabilities that all serve to create major selling opportunities and goodwill for event sponsors. Helm terms such marketing opportunities as a win/win for everyone involved in an event.
“We've hired a social media specialist, along with really adding to our branding techniques to enhance our reach,” he relates. “And we are also still growing the grass roots locations, with fun scavenger hunts, trivia, and giveaways at our fairs. We feel this approach is what has helped to make us be successful to this point.”
Another major change in 2018 was Davey's purchase of the company from his parents, Dave Sr. and Debbie Helm.
But by far the largest addition for the company this year focuses on staff members. Helm says he “added a pay raise of 100% to all our employees in the first day of my wife and I owning the company, to set a bar and let them know that we are committed to grow together with them, and recognize that just buying new rides, trucks, and equipment is not the only way you can add to your show.”
The carnival's management and owners are on-site and available throughout the events they run, and their importance is paramount to Helm and Sons' success, Helm believes. Their satisfaction is also key to the satisfaction and pleasure of carnival attendees.
With this in mind, he's also provided new infrastructure to support his crew. “We've added 6 brand new Lifetime bunkhouses, each complete with a commercial laundry room and kitchen; 12 brand new RVs for managers and team leaders; and a fleet of new passenger vans to enhance the crew experience and take care of the people who make the show successful.”
While that's quite a commitment, Helm stresses that it is absolutely worth making these expenditures. Every event includes the company's customer service commitment, which empowers staff, as the company's promotional literature announces, “to ‘Make WOW now.'” In short, immediate action makes for immediate satisfaction, and a policy of resolving any challenges correctly the first time they occur.
According to Helm, “I feel our team of employees, far and away, is what makes our company stand out above all. I am extremely proud of them, and the attention to detail that we try to pay at all locations. In a regular atmosphere, these are sometimes not valued in our industry. We've invested into our team, and it's paid dividends. This is a hard industry, and I am proud and thankful to have the team helping me that I have,” he attests. “We have grown up working together, and I feel blessed.”