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Classic Amusement: This Family Business Brings Fun Everywhere It Goes

Classic Amusement: This Family Business Brings Fun Everywhere It Goes
Image credit: Ford Motor Company

George D’Olivo, founder of Classic Amusement, says his family-owned-and-operated business “is designed to bring fun everywhere we go.” General manager (and daughter) Lexi D’Olivo chimes in, “That’s our job; that’s what we love. My father’s a big kid at heart.” The company’s Ferris wheels and other attractions are, indeed, fun for riders of all ages. They’re also the main moneymakers for Classic Amusement, but they only generate revenue when they’re in proper working order.

With hundreds of different bulbs, parts, cables and tools required to service and repair more than two dozen rides, that’s been a big challenge. But the highly customized Ford Transit Van the company recently acquired is making things a whole lot easier.

Entertaining folks has always been a part of what makes George D’Olivo tick. As a professional wrestler in his twenties, George trained with some of the greats, including Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. He never attained main-event status himself, but the experience sparked his desire to “bring fun” everywhere he goes. He started out with a shaved ice concession about 1985, soon added inflatable bounce houses and expanded into full-blown carnival rides about 15 years ago. Along with daughter Lexi, George’s wife, Lisa, and son, George, also work in the business. On event weekends, the workforce expands to as many as 60 people.

Keeping It Clean and Working Right

“We are not the typical carnival operation that sets up in a dirt lot,” George explains. “We are a higher-end operation, and we have a reputation for keeping our rides very clean and in perfect working condition. That’s not always easy to do when you’re on the road seven days a week, like we are.”

Classic Amusement has several motor homes, vans and a utility truck in its fleet, but organizing all the parts and tools required to keep the rides in tip-top shape was always difficult. “The utility vehicle has side boxes, but everything just gets thrown in there. It’s very disorganized and hard to find what you need,” he says. That all changed when the company picked up its new Ford Transit 350 Van. Tim Houston, Classic Amusement’s maintenance supervisor, says the high-roof* Transit is “a giant toolbox I can walk in.”

Image credit: Ford Motor Company

The D’Olivos made extensive use of the Racks and Bins Configurator tool on the Ford Transit website to help make their van a perfect fit for their business needs. “Everything we had a need for, there was a box or bin or shelf that met that need,” Lexi says. “We designed our Ford Transit Van to be a mobile office, work space and on-site parts depot all in one, and the website had everything we needed,” George adds. “Even with all that storage, there’s plenty of room for someone 6' 3'' tall to stand up and move around inside, and the slide-out workbench makes it easy to repair equipment on the spot.”

Fun to Drive and Plenty of Power

George loves driving the new Transit. “It’s comfortable, easy to drive, and we tow loads up to 4,000 pounds with no problem at all.” He describes the van and the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engine delivers as “phenomenal. Everyone who has driven it, including my daughter, can’t believe how much pep it has. In terms of performance, there’s no comparison to other vans I have driven—and I’ve driven them all!”

The colorful Classic Amusement logo really pops on the company’s Tuxedo Black Transit, and it’s proving to be an effective marketing tool. “We don’t do any [mass] advertising, but all our vehicles and equipment are logoed,” George says. “This van has gotten more attention than any vehicle we have ever had, tenfold. I’ll be driving around San Francisco with the window down and people will yell, ‘Hey, nice van!’ It happens all the time.”

For useful tips on how you can put a Ford Transit to work for your own business, and to learn how other small businesses are putting Ford Transit and Transit Connect Vans to work for them, go to Plus, find other articles and infographics in this series to help you enhance your business—brought to you by the Ford Transit. 

*Roof heights vary by wheelbase/model