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Fun Depot

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In January of 1990, my family and I were on vacation in the mountains when we heard James Dobson mention that his one regret was raising his kids in Southern California – what he called “Sodom and Gomorra.”  Dobson said that if he had it to over, he would have raised them in the mountains and spent more time with them.

When we got back to Florida and my job of one and a half years, there were no assignments on my desk.  I didn’t know why so I went to speak to my boss, only to find that I was let go.  I drove home in my beat up Mazda truck and surprised my wife.  At this point, my wife, Mary Beth began to tell me a story.  She told me that she prayed that if they were supposed to move to the mountains God would send us a sign such as me losing my job to make her go since her family was still in Florida.  My response was, “you’ve gotta be kidding!”  We took that as a sign to my resume out in the mountains and see what happened.  Someone that I didn’t know sent me a letter and stated that I should open my own business because there was only one structural engineer in this area. I called this engineer in Western North Carolina, and he told me that the best thing to do was come here and have him introduce me to architects and other individuals in my field.


My family made a trip to Asheville and determined it would be a good thing to move here.  Our decision was met with opposition – someone actually told me that I would be lucky to make $20,000 a year in Asheville.   I was 26, had two kids, a wife and a house in foreclosure.  Additionally, I had just become a professional engineer, didn’t have much hands-on experience, had never rented my own business and knew no one in NC; however, we still felt the move to Asheville was meant to be.  It truly felt like this move would be against all odds.  But then a man in our church gave us a house with a fully stocked refrigerator where we could live for a year.  Because of this, we had no debt, so we moved and opened Day Associates on March 16, 1990.  It took 2 months to get my first client job, but I had a lot of good family time and a lot of good prayer time.  Word of mouth began to spread and out business hasn’t stopped growing since.


With 15 years of entrepreneurship, I have learned the hard way to build a business.  The next project that I undertook was to become a developer and contractor.  I built apartments, invested in real estate and started coming up with different business ideas that I wanted to start.  For many years, my wife and I talked about the need for a safe, fun place for families to play together – a place where a parent could bring their children with arcade games, go carts and batting cages.  We also discussed whether or not we should even attempt such a bug undertaking.  In May 2003 I bought the idea up at the office where we worked together on the design with all five of our employees.  The design of Asheville’s Fun Depot was mostly completed on our dining room table where my wife, our four children and I drew out the conceptual ideas.  We would ask our children and their friends what they thought would provide the most fun.  Everyone was excited about the idea and contributed much to allow the Asheville’s Fun Depot to be born.  We knew that God had to direct our steps in order for the business to be a success.  We relied on Proverbs 16:3  hat says, “Commit to the Lord all of your ways and your plans will succeed.”  As the business became a reality, we attempted to put God first in our business and all that we do, including but not limited to decorations in our business, the way we treat our employees and the way we treat our customers.


In May 2003, an old, metal building came available on the interstate.  We began to dream.  It was a perfect location and just off the Interstate.  We got the building under contract and began to take the challenge of getting a loan for a business that had no history or prior existence in, Western North Carolina.  All of the banks we visited felt that our idea was good, but it was a high risk and therefore would not be a good loan for them.  Finally, in July of 2003, we were able to finalize a bank loan and began to design our creation.  We closed on the property at 1 pm on September 22, 2003.  That same day at 3 p.m., we began construction on our project.  Demolition took six weeks and new construction followed beginning November 1.  Because of the special use, more and more permit requirements were added, which ended up costing us an extra $1 million.


We open five months and 1 week after September 22’s closing.  We had a soft opening on February 25, 2004, and a grand opening celebration on February 27, 2004.  The hard times were still not quite over.  It was a nightmare on grand opening because our software system didn’t work and neither did the games.  We continued to have software problems for about a month, which shut us down during prime times.  That’s all in the past though and we’ve resolved our conflicts.  In 2004, we were named Top Family Entertainment Center of the World, won the Best Outdoor Ad Campaign and Best Use of Logo.  Not that’s it’s 2005; we have grown to about 80 fulltime employees and 70 part time employees.  Asheville’s Fun Depot is not the only company to grow – all of my companies have grown: engineering doubled sales in one year.  Day Management has quadrupled its business since 2003.  We went from 5 to 160 employees and have taken on many land development prospects.  Currently, we have four major projects totaling approximately 500 residential units and over 100,000 sq. ft of commercial space.  In August 2005 we will begin construction on a ¼ mile multi level go-kart track.  In November 2005 we will began construction on 23,000 sq ft addition to our existing building, which will include an indoor go-kart track, 5 more party rooms, bowling and bumper cars.

The result of the hard work is the best place to have fun in town.  Join us at Fun Depot for a party, or an afternoon of uninterrupted fun with you family.  You’ll leave with a smile on your face.

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