Bringing fun and business savvy to parks in America and beyond, International Ride Management (IRM) is now in its third decade in the industry.
The company was founded in 1989 by amusement veterans James Palmer and B. Peter Zwickau. Palmer’s entry into the business began with positions at Arrow Dynamics, Bradley and Kaye, and D.H. Morgan. Zwickau, whose roles have included president of Hansa-Park in Germany and Arrow/Huss, is credited with career ride sales exceeding $100 million.
IRM grew rapidly from the outset. It provided ride packages to Elitch Gardens, Circus Circus Adventuredome, Visionland (now Alabama Adventure), Jazzland (later Six Flags New Orleans), Warner Bros. Move World in Spain and Ocean Park in Hong Kong. IRM was selected to rebuild Kuwait Entertainment City amusement park after the Iraqi government dismantled and shipped the mechanical rides to Iraq during the first Gulf War. The company also conducted liquidations of Bob-Lo Island, Opryland and Maple Leaf Village, among others.
In 2003, Steven Elliott purchased the company, making it a division of his engineering and testing company, Ride Actions Ltd. Elliott previously worked in Walt Disney Imagineering’s research and development division, reviewing and evaluating hundreds of potential future ride systems.
Three years later, Tony Rossi, owner of Leisure Tech Services, purchased IRM — merging the company’s vast network of contacts with Rossi’s NAARSO expertise (including his experience as an expert witness and his large number of certified inspection areas). Rossi got his start in the industry at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, N.J., where he helped install, maintain and operate the Schwarzkopf Jet Star roller coaster. He then moved on to a nine-year tenure as a ride regulator for the State of New Jersey before taking over maintenance and construction at Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho.
IRM’s long-standing tradition of coaster preservation can be traced back to Rossi’s employment at Silverwood, where he supervised the relocation of Knott’s Berry Farm’s historic Corkscrew to the park. He also led the in-house construction of Silverwood’s Thunder Canyon white water raft ride. After several more seasons with Silverwood, Rossi returned to New Jersey to work for Morey’s Piers in Wildwood before launching Leisure Tech Services.
Growing for the future
Under Rossi’s ownership, the year 2007 was a pivotal one for IRM. The company brokered the sale of the last remaining rides from the shuttered MGM Grand Adventures theme park in Las Vegas to a private buyer in California. IRM also was tasked with finding new owners for two Vekoma Giant Inverted Boomerang steel coasters from the Six Flags chain, with one going to Silverwood and other to Mirabilandia in Brazil.
Sam Shurgott, whom Rossi had known since before they worked together at Morey’s Piers, joined IRM that fall. Shurgott began selling rides independently in 1998, when the Morey family was ready to part with a kiddie Ferris wheel. Before joining Morey’s Piers, while in college, Shurgott had experience working for Cedar Point in Ohio and Conneaut Lake Park in Pennsylvania. Like Rossi, he networked and forged many friendships over the years and has helped IRM maintain its strong relationship within the industry, especially independent and family owned facilities.
“IRM’s philosophy has evolved with the industry,” Shurgott said. “It strives to help clients achieve their goals with assistance in ride acquisition, relocation, installation, inspections, appraisals and maintenance. We look forward to another successful 30 years of supporting family-owned and -operated parks.”