Ben Jones is a patient at Rochester Advanced Dentistry as well as a famous figure in the bowling and family entertainment center (FEC) industry. In a career that’s spanned 40 years, Jones has transitioned from freestyle skiing to bank loan evaluator, but no matter what industry he’s in, he’s always been considered a leader.
From Freestyle Skiing to Family Entertainment
In the mid 1970s, Jones helped originate the sport of freestyle skiing. He was one of 40 or 50 individuals in the world who were participating in the sport, and they pioneered the sector of the skiing industry. Although Jones participated in the 1975 finals of the World Freestyle skiing championship, there wasn’t much money in the sport, so, like many of the other pioneers, Jones entered a related industry.
In Jones’ case, this was the hotel industry, where he was doing reasonably well when he became interested in mini golf. A piece of property became available next to his hotel, and he began investigating the mini golf industry. He did his due diligence, sitting in parking lots and observing the business that mini golf centers were doing. When he had learned how to make a successful go of it, Jones developed the property into a mini golf course and it turned out to be a great success.
Consulting, Conferences, and Business Loans
As he was operating his first mini golf course, Jones worked to design others, as well as helping to design entertainment centers.
He started talking about customer service at other people’s courses, and was sometimes asked to speak to the staff. At first he was just helping out, but it began to be such a demanded service that he decided to make it into a business and founded Recreation and Entertainment Consultants (REC).
As this consulting business took off, he joined the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). He developed many connections through them, and under their auspices he put on the first FEC conference that was oriented toward experienced managers. Then he developed his own conference called F2FEC that focused on specific themes in a large group setting.
Then he was approached by a friend about Live Oak banks, which was seeking to develop niche financing divisions, including a division oriented toward loans to FECs. After showing that he truly understood the industry with a state of the industry prospectus and a tour of various FECs, Jones was tapped to be the face of this loan program.
He now helps FECs understand what their business needs to do to become finance-able. This helps them escape the trap that many face: they are local institutions and are unable to expand because all their financing is local. He also advises the bank on which businesses are good investments and should be granted a loan.
At Rochester Advanced Dentistry, we are happy to have Jones at our practice and we always enjoy the visits of this skilled raconteur and successful businessman.