By Valarie Johnson | Sep 27, 2013
Mike Evans' thriving manufacturer is building jobs in Colorado and smiles and amusement for families and business worldwide
What is entertaining, fun, bright, soft, squishy, safe and makes kids, parents and businesses happy, and describes a thriving manufacturer here in Colorado?
“We make innovative, interactive play areas and try to engage the experience in a way that is meaningful to customers,” says Mike Evans, founder, president and CEO of PLAYTIME, a commercial playground equipment manufacturer.
PLAYTIME is a global provider of unique, interactive indoor, outdoor and water play areas and playground equipment.
“Family-friendly businesses that want to stand out, hire PLAYTIME to create powerful play experiences,” says Evans. “Our commercial playground equipment and themed soft play areas are designed to engage children, drive traffic and enhance our customers' brands.”
“Over 500,000 families experience PLAYTIME every day at shopping centers, malls, restaurants, airports, stadiums, childcare, healthcare centers, fitness centers, churches, resorts, recreation centers, water parks and museums,” says Evans. He adds that they are also creating entertaining play areas for dental offices.
Many Coloradans are familiar with PLAYTIME’S popular play area in Cherry Creek Shopping Center. PLAYTIME play areas can also be seen in McDonald’s PlayPlaces, Warner Bros., Sesame Street, Garfield & Friends, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and LA Fitness.
Manufacturing in Colorado wasn’t highly recommended to Evans. “Back in 2004, people told me you couldn’t manufacture in Colorado, that it was all high tech and health care,” says Evans. “I found that not to be true, or, rather, determined it wouldn’t be true.”
“We say an opportunity in Colorado that didn’t exist,” says Evans. “We had to take a leap of faith and create a company that manufactures and supplies the world’s most dynamic play areas. Now we are a piece of Americana.”
PLAYTIME currently occupies over 65,000 square feet of studio, manufacturing and warehouse space in their Englewood global headquarters and employs over 60 people. “We try to embody the spirit of PLAYTIME within our work,” says Evans. The office space and warehouse provide a fun, whimsical environment full of games, inspirational quotes and humorous signage.
Evans also sees benefits to other Colorado businesses through PLAYTIME. “If we weren’t headquartered here, we wouldn’t have the need for the other manufacturers that we use as well,” says Evans.
Today, PLAYTIME is a proud recipient of the Colorado Top Companies to Watch Award.
Evans says PLAYTIME is also the industry leader in custom themed, sculpted soft foam play areas. “PLAYTIME uses a process that coats our foam-sculpted products with an extremely durable, rubberlike substance,” Evans says. The smooth-finish materials are naturally antibacterial, ensuring a safe and healthy play experience.
Ongoing investment, innovation and invention are part of the equation for PLAYTIME. “We design our equipment for kids as well as their dads,” says Evans. “Everyone needs a little play time.”
Challenges: “Economic headwinds create a challenge for us,” says Evans. “Also, retailers are looking for return on investment; there is sequestration, and the debt ceiling creates economic uncertainty.” He went on to explain how the volatility of the dollar can, at times, also present a challenge, “It is fascinating to go from a company with 1-5 employees at one time, to now thinking about how the global exchange rate affects our business.”
Opportunities: Evans sees ongoing and new ventures internationally as a tremendous opportunity, “Our fastest growth market is Australia.” Within the states and locally, he says there are ways in which PLAYTIME can not only grow, but possibly also come to the rescue for other companies, “I believe there are 2 companies that can save JCPenny and Toys “R” Us, that being Starbucks and PLAYTIME!”
Needs: Keeping PLAYTIME at its roots while embracing technology is important to Evans. “We have to back up and think about what play space will become,” says Evans.