6.19.20

Business Member Spotlight: Airway Fun Center keeps employees paid

Taproom Kalamazoo
Consumers business services

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Airway Fun Center keeps employees paid

Using a PPP loan, owner Don Labrecque made sure his employees could pay their bills through the COVID-19 shutdown.

When the governor ordered everyone but non-essential workers to shelter at home on March 16, Airway Fun Center had 111 people on payroll. Unlike many others, this team couldn’t simply take their work home. There’s no way to run go-carts, escape rooms, laser tag and other games remotely. Shutting the doors meant cutting off cash flow.

Employees still needed to pay rent, make car payments and buy groceries. But most were not eligible to collect unemployment. They’re simply too young and don’t have a long enough work history to qualify.

Owner Don Labrecque wasn’t about to stand back and let his employees suffer.

For the first two weeks, he paid everyone out the company’s reserves. During that time, Don also applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through Consumers. His swift action resulted in getting a $400,000 loan that allowed Airway Fun Center to pay all 111 employees their usual wages for the next eight weeks and cover the Center’s rent and utilities.

“This means we can take care of all of our employees,” said Marc Wiese, general manager.

An entertainment destination

Airway Fun Center started in 2003 with an empty building in Portage. Today, it’s an entertainment destination. Every year, they invest $300,000-$400,000 in upgrades. They have indoor and outdoor activities: everything from laser tag, go-carts, and a gyroscope to private bowling suits, a VIP Taproom, and Painting with a Twist parties.

It’s a go-to place for kids and adults.

“Some even come from a hundred miles away,” Marc said. “They always wish they had something like this back home.”

New for 2020 are $80,000 of arcade games, more room for games and updated escape rooms.

In the summer, the staff swells to 140 people. They are already trained to protect guests from COVID-19 at every attraction, whether that’s the ropes course, mini golf or a corporate team building event.

“New standard operating procedures are in place,” Marc says. “We have a new electrostatic sprayer that’s hospital grade and extra people to keep everything sanitized.”

Outside attractions will be open daily starting June 19 from 12-10 p.m., plus the Taproom & Patio is open daily from 3-8 p.m. To plan your visit, check out Airway Fun Center online.

Do you have PPP or business banking questions? Contact our knowledgeable business development managers or call 800-991-2221. 

Federally insured by NCUA

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Consumers business services

Do you have business banking questions? Contact our knowledgeable business development managers.

Learn more

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