International Fun and Games
Courtesy of Bob's Space Racers
Back in 1970, Bob Cassata built a game trailer for himself. It pitted 20 rockets against each other in a space race to the moon, with a shiny yellow sphere atop the contraption. Friends saw it. They liked it. They wanted to buy one. So Bob made more and pretty soon he was “in business.” The name of the company? Bob’s Space Racers.
Today, Bob’s Space Racers serves customers across the nation and around the world, all from its plant, on Whac-a-Mole Way in Holly Hill, Florida.
Yes, Bob’s Space Racers is the originator of Whac-a-Mole, a game you will find on the midways of practically every carnival and fair in the country and beyond. The company produces and ships the popular game all over the world. But there is so much more to the story.
“We’re one of the only manufacturers of amusement equipment that handles all segments of the industry,” said Jack Cook, president of Bob’s Space Racers. “That includes arcades like Chuck E. Cheese, entertainment centers like Dave and Busters, amusement parks, carnivals, trailers, home editions of games, and more.”
The company operates from its 100,000-square-foot Holly Hill headquarters with a workforce that can vary, but currently stands at 55. Its products are in 120 countries. Clearly, exporting has been an acquired skill for the Whac-a-Mole folks.
“We’ve been exporting for about 35 years,” said Cook. “We had to buy a Telex machine, which was state-of-the-art at the time, and learn what letters of credit were and how they work. We then learned that every country has different rules for crating and shipping for the entire process of accepting goods into their country. It has been an education.”
As for the complexities of shipping, Bob’s Space Racers just had to develop the skills to get products to their global buyers. For example, based on destination and seasonal freight rates, products may ship through ports in Jacksonville, Savannah or Miami. In other cases, products were trucked across the country and shipped from Los Angeles. Sometimes the customer handles the shipping. Sometimes freight forwarders are involved. But no matter how the products are shipped, duty, shipping and product laws must be honored.
For example, some countries require that shipping crates be constructed of certified pressure-treated wood to ensure no invasive organisms are present. Others require shipping containers be fumigated and certified as such. Some have complex laws governing stuffed toys, including restrictions or prohibition of some materials used to create them. Some countries slap major tariffs on imports – up to 100%, and others have none.
You just need to do your homework so all parties are satisfied when the product is delivered.
But still, demand for Bob’s Space Racers products makes it all worthwhile.
“It’s a colorful, fun business, but like any other business, there are challenges to overcome and standards of quality, service and efficiency to be maintained,” said Cook.
And exports are a significant contributor to the company’s sales volume, sometimes exceeding 50%.
51 years after founding Bob’s Space Racers, Bob and Joyce Cassata still own the business, and it’s been a great ride.
These days, the company is back to manufacturing games as amusement businesses are regaining their footing. The world is ready for a little fun, and Bob’s Space Racers is seeing to it that they have some.
For more information about Bob’s Space Racers, visit www.BobsSpaceRacers.com.
Volusia County Economic Development Quarterly
Second Quarter 2021
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