If you’re looking for a good time, David Goldfarb’s got game.
Lots and lots of game.
More than 2,000 games, in fact, from Ms. Pac-Man to claw machines to pinball. He’s got ice skating rinks, bowling alleys and go-karts.
Goldfarb is founder and CEO of PrimeTime Amusements in Fort Lauderdale. The company rents and sells arcade games, creates themed entertainment spaces and operates its own entertainment complexes in Florida and New Jersey. Clients include Universal Studios, the world’s largest McDonald’s and Bird Bowl Bowling Center in Miami.
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It all started in 1992, when Goldfarb was a sophomore at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He borrowed $10,000 from family, bought two pool tables and put them in local sub shops, splitting the take with the businesses. Six months later, he paid off the loan, bought more arcade games and started placing them in game rooms and skating rinks. He found big money — up to $2,000 a day — renting games to trade shows.
But closing sales was no child’s play. Goldfarb cold-called his way in to clients, but it was a long, hard road. His success rate at the beginning: a dismal 5 percent.
“I would go see general managers. I would show up every day until they gave me the opportunity,” Goldfarb said. “I would show up to the point I was getting annoying.”
The persistence paid off. By the time he was 28, PrimeTime Amusements was in several Orlando hotels, and when Universal Orlando Resort became a client, doors began to open.
Goldfarb moved to Miami in his mid-20s, opened a warehouse, and began selling used arcade games internationally. The company was hired to set up themed entertainment spaces in Russia and Africa, and it started a side business designing, making and installing props for themed venues.
About four years ago, the company partnered with Hershey’s Ice Cream to open the Shake Shoppe Arcade on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Two years later, PrimeTime opened another in Orlando. In 2015, the company took on partners to open Xtreme Action Park in Fort Lauderdale, with bowling, skating and a trampoline park. At 230,000 square feet, it’s the largest entertainment center in the country, Goldfarb said.
In July, the company unveiled Hard Knocks 365, a sports performance training facility for pro and amateur athletes.
But being in the business of having fun isn’t a laugh a minute. In fact, when asked to name his favorite game, Goldfarb was at a loss.
“I’d be lying if I named one. People think this business is all play,” he said. “It definitely looks like a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of hard work.”
Company name: PrimeTime Amusements
Owners: David Goldfarb
Numbers: $15 million in annual revenues, including subsidiaries. Serves 25 major clients. Owns 2,000 arcade games. Revenue has grown 300 percent since the opening of Xtreme Action Park in 2015.
The difference: “What makes us different is we’ve become the 800-pound gorilla, where we can do everything from A to Z in this particular industry.”
Clients: Universal Studios in Orlando, the world’s largest McDonald’s in Orlando, and Bird Bowl in Miami
Competitors: Video Amusement, Wow Entertainment, Fantasy World Entertainment
Number of employees: 140
Offices: Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, with satellite offices in Orlando and New Jersey
Outside view: “They are extremely responsive, truly knowledgeable in their field and they always deliver on promises,” said client Alejandro Pezzini, CEO of AMP Group, which owns I-Drive NASCAR in Orlando. “They walked us through the entire process of building an arcade, and they were extremely helpful in providing feedback and expertise.”
Worst mistake ever: “Not buying land in Miami when it was cheap,” David Goldfarb said.
Best decision ever: “Taking a risk and putting everything on the line two years ago to buy the Fort Lauderdale building,” Goldfarb said.
Growth strategy: “Trying to scale the business by expanding the Xtreme Action Park model into other markets,” Goldfarb said.
Biggest challenge: “Trying to have enough balance in my life, between family, business and personal travel,” Goldfarb said. “Sometimes your business doesn’t allow you to do that.”