By Jamie Siebrase | Sep 04, 2015
Denver / Winter Park, Colorado
Employees: 30, plus seasonal employees in the summer
Greg Gallavan was working as a food and beverage manager for Winter Park Resort when he came up with Amaze'n Burgers in 1988. Back then, he says, there wasn't much to do at night at the ski resorts, and adults and kids flocked to the indoor family fun center, complete with a restaurant, arcade, miniature golf course, and modestly sized maze.
The maze was so popular that Gallavan ditched the restaurant to focus exclusively on designing, constructing and selling mazes.
He wasn't totally out of his element. Gallavan had done some construction in college, and he built his house. In 1990, his first giant maze debuted in Breckenridge: Measuring in at 10,000 square feet, the outdoor labyrinth was Colorado's largest at the time.
That maze was entirely wood, and Gallavan's supplier did most of the machining. "It was kind of like a giant Lego set to put it together," Gallavan recalls. The whole configuration process took a month -- today, it takes a week.
Wood mazes were time consuming to make, and they were expensive for operators to maintain. "I knew we had to go to something else," says Gallavan.
When he got the idea for plastic panels, Gallavan approached his first supplier, Regal Plastic Supply Co., about making what has since become his company's signature.
Steamboat Springs was home to a cutting-edge design utilizing wood posts and framework with Gallavan's durable, lightweight plastic panels. This opened the door for operators to request custom colors and logos; Gallavan's fronts have range from a Miner's Maze in Bushkill Falls to New York City's Mayan Maze -- there are even water models with squirt guns and dump buckets.
By 1997, Gallavan had introduced his first all-plastic maze at Winter Park, and he's installed nearly 60 Amaze'n mazes in the U.S., Canada, Spain and South Korea in the time since, working with AiA Plastics.
Gallavan might be in plastics, but he tries to lessen his company's environmental footprint by using beetlekill pine in wood mazes like the Miner's Maze.
"With our mazes," Gallavan says, "it isn't just about wandering around, looking for the exit." Visitors receive passports that log their start times and can be punched at various checkpoints throughout the maze.
"People want to run the maze over and over, improving their times," explains Gallavan. That translates to more foot traffic for operators -- no big deal since Gallavan's mazes basically maintain themselves. Plastic holds up well in the elements, and rearranging a maze's configuration is simple, seeing as it only takes about ten screws to move one of Gallavan's plastic panels.
Challenges: "Cloning myself," says Gallavan. There are good things about being a small business, true, but there are also hurdles -- mainly, too much demand and not enough time. Since expanding into an international market, Gallavan's felt that even more. "Coordination overseas," he says, "is difficult."
Opportunities: Gallavan caught a big break in 2002 when he did an installation at Wild Adventures Theme Park in Georgia. "There is huge opportunity in theme parks," he says, noting that he'd like to see his mazes move into more major theme parks, and possibly even zoos.
Needs: Gallavan says the one thing he always needs are more customers.