Life after coal mining is a happy adventure for two Wollongong activity centre entrepreneurs. When Revolution Laser Arena opened in Coniston recently Brett Baker and his business partner Colin Bloomfield revealed how they wanted to keep providing people new things to do.
Mr Baker was an avid climber when he bought Hangdog Climbing Gym in 2007.
He was working at Dendrobium mine as a safety training co-ordinator at the time and soon became the training development manager for Illawarra Coal which meant he had to manage Hangdog remotely. He refurbished it in 2009 and has kept improving it since. In 2012 when he was doing a Biz Booster Program, after winning an outstanding small business award, when he realised he loved what he was doing and that let to the opening of Hangtime Trampoline Park in 2014.
“It was about the third in Australia … now there are about 120,” he said.
It was a new concept and his success at opening one of the first in Australia helped him make the transition from coal miner to business owner.
Mr Bloomfield, the former Illawarra Coal president, offered to invest in the business 18 months ago and they are looking for more opportunities to build the business in the leisure space.
“Our purpose is to create places where people have fun. Our vision is to have a multi-stream multi-site leisure business,” Mr Bloomfield said.
Revolution Laser Arena was created with the help of a company that makes movie sets. It was an immediate hit when it opened in December is about to introduce league nights and special missions.
“We have a massive group of people who are just itching to get into that. The technology in this stuff now allows for so many different game types. It is the best of online gaming brought to the real world,” Mr Baker said
Players wear battlesuits and are armed with phasers as they try and steal and collect energy.
Each centre has a manager and together they employ more than 50 people, mostly aged between 15 and 25.