Saturday, April 10, 2021

Nathan Jones: Continuing a journey of amazing attractions

Following a long track record at both WhiteWater and Vekoma, Nathan Jones recently took the COO role at CAVU Designwerks. CAVU’s specialty is in designing and engineering new immersive ride systems. CEO Peter Schnabel heads up the company, based in British Columbia, Canada.

What led you to this opportunity at CAVU Designwerks?

I have known Peter Schnabel for many years and always had a healthy respect for his contributions to the industry. The introduction of technology into the amusement industry is not something new but integrating technology successfully and in a way that makes sense has been where Peter has consistently delivered and helped shape a generation of rides and attractions. I wanted to be part of the exciting team at CAVU pursuing those same ambitious goals.

Tell us about your new role and what you will be responsible for?

My primary focus will be on the operations of the company. I will ensure we deliver on contracts from signing through commissioning and completion. The complexity and integration of CAVU’s attractions requires a rigorous, process-driven implementation involving contributions from a multidisciplinary team. Our customers expect projects to be on-time and on-budget and I will be working with the team to ensure that we deliver on both those goals. 

How has your previous experience prepared you for this position?

I have been fortunate enough to work for two preeminent companies in the industry: WhiteWater and Vekoma. My experience with highly engineered attractions at both organizations gave me the experience that allows me to come in with that foundational knowledge in hand and really hit the ground running at CAVU. Additionally, serving on the International Board for the TEA has allowed me to interact with industry leaders including operators, suppliers, and specifiers. TEA continues to foster an environment that promotes interaction with international business leaders to exchange strategies and ideas on best practices for our industry. 

Who or what things have inspired you in your career?

Before the ribbon cutting and grand opening of any attraction there is a hardworking, dedicated team of professionals that come together to turn the seemingly impossible into something that is real. Leading and being part of such diverse teams has defined my passion for the industry. These teams, many of whom have become lifelong friends, have inspired me to continually seek out organizations that have a winning combination of cutting-edge portfolios and passionate people who love coming to work every day. 

What direction is CAVU heading in and how are you planning on helping achieve that vision? 

Pushing the boundary of what is possible with dark rides, flying theaters, and other high-tech attractions has CAVU uniquely positioned to deliver on their ever-expanding portfolio of attractions. Ultimately, the goal is to produce an unforgettable, fun experience for guests. Combining just the right amount of technology, movement, content, and storytelling into one package is where CAVU really excels and being able to deliver on those experiences in a meaningful way is where I will be focusing much of my time. 

How are you and CAVU approaching business during the pandemic and how are you planning for the post-pandemic market?

Like most businesses we have adjusted our business model and reacted to the current global environment. We want to be cognizant of how much change many of our customers and colleagues have had to deal with in such a short time. To alleviate some of those pressures we have rolled out our Bluesky Services as part of our way to remain connected with our clients. We are offering two distinct services: A Creative Charette, which includes a technical brainstorming session on new products or attractions moderated by CAVU. Our Engineering Think Tank is a complimentary engineering consultation and design service for a product or attraction. These services provide the opportunity to engage with our Engineering team to brainstorm technically on a new or existing product/project. Many companies have taken advantage of these services already and we will be looking to expand our service offerings later this year. In the end, it is all about people. Whether it is guests at a park or employees at CAVU we will remain unabashedly focused on creating places where people will enjoy spending time at each and every day.

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, CNN.com and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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