Phil Wilson is the Executive Vice President of Extreme Engineering, a design firm Phil started with his Dad back in 1995. Since then they have created many award-winning attractions and have sustained a family business through some trying times. Their philosophy of “bringing the mountain to the people” served them well when creating their first portable climbing wall, and that attitude is still prevalent today as they design experiences that many different audiences can enjoy.
Enjoying the ride
“Don’t get caught up in getting this degree or achieving that milestone on a particular timeline.”
In college, Phil changed his major four times and still has questions about what he wants to do when he grows up. This accentuates Phil’s outlook that life is a journey and that we shouldn’t put too much pressure on ourselves to reach arbitrary or societal goals, just because others are doing that or because that’s what’s been done in the past.
In many ways, Phil states that it is the journey that actually determines the destination. While going to college, Phil was working in the business and found things he was good at and liked doing. It was that knowledge that then shaped his path to pursue the education that would allow him to further excel.
Phil clearly embraces the journey mentality while traveling as well, sharing a story of how he and a friend ended up wearing lederhosen and drinking beer on stage in the middle of Oktoberfest in Vietnam!
“Every day you have with your parents and your kids, in a way, is your last day. Then you have to do it again the next day and the next day.”
Family businesses are tough. Business is tough enough, anyway, and then layer in the family dynamic and it’s no wonder that many family businesses fail. Phil has helped create an open space for family business owners to share and grow via the Family Matters session that has been a staple at the IAAPA Expo for 5 years.
In Phil’s own family business journey with his father, he has had to learn how to create and respect the boundaries of knowledge and expertise, and separate the family from the business. He opened up about a particularly tough time with his Dad where they were at odds and Phil had to get away to gain some new perspectives. His work in bringing other family business owners together is his way to help make sure that doesn’t happen with other families as well.
Innovative Ride Design
“There is a huge void in our industry in terms of price and experience on what you can get for an amusement park.”
In recent years, the Extreme Engineering team has taken their “bring the mountain to the people” philosophy to the family coaster segment. Realizing the massive gap in price and experience for attractions that were available, they specifically set out to produce experiences that bridged the gap between multi-million dollar coasters and ½ million dollar or less midway attractions.
They also designed a system to allow guests of varying abilities to experience parkour with Parkour Around. This computerized system calculates the amount of assist needed to allow guests to experience the attraction safely. Phil calls it the “SuperMario Experience”!
This podcast wouldn’t be possible without the incredible work of our amazing team:
- Audio and video editing by Abigail Giganan
- Scheduling and correspondence by Kristen Karaliunas
- Social media marketing by Kate Kujawa
- Branding and design by Fabiana Fonseca
- Email marketing by Sam Bercik
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