Fresh out of college, Matt Lambeth landed a job as a supervisor for Sky Zone, a brand-new concept featuring wall-to-wall trampolines. It was meant to be a part-time, summer gig to save money before entering medical school in the fall. However, the adrenaline-pumping environment of aerial action quickly derailed these plans. “From day one, I saw the future potential of the company and I wanted to be part of it,” Lambeth explains. “This job offered me an opportunity to try something new that really excited me.” He hung up his lab coat and decided to take on a new role, which began his 13-year, gravity-defying tenure at Sky Zone.
Since then, Lambeth has ascended to the role of Sky Zone’s vice president of development and construction. As someone who witnessed the growth of the company from nearly the start of the concept, he naturally envisioned the company’s capabilities and helped develop internal processes to keep up with its expansion. Lambeth’s early days in his role were spent establishing processes and procedures for the brand-new industry Sky Zone created. The team wanted to study how guests interacted with equipment and how they moved throughout the park. This information would serve as the basis for the company’s operational procedures and park design, which began to evolve alongside the business.
“We spent 18 months in the park seeing the traffic flow, the bottlenecks, and learning how to design a park more efficiently from a space utilization standpoint,” Lambeth explains. “It was invaluable and integral to building the experience we wanted guests to have.”
Once fundamental operational grounds were in place, Sky Zone was ready to move into new territory by franchising. As the company grew, so too did Lambeth’s involvement. He seized any opportunity to experience all angles of the business and beyond—even teaching himself AutoCAD to do initial space planning to save each franchise partner thousands of dollars in architectural fees. In just 13 years, the company has opened over 220 Sky Zone locations, while also merging with the CircusTrix and Rockin’ Jump brands to open an additional 320 locations worldwide. Sky Zone has established roots in 14 countries, customizing each location to fit the need of unique market preferences. Of course, implementing these tweaks to the company’s solid brand requires a team of people who have a knack for being inspired and pioneering interesting new ideas.
“We have an entire innovation team solely focused on vetting testing and gathering information on new attractions, as well as managing our retrofit pipeline which involves updating and adding new features to old parks,” Lambeth says. “Parks are always rotating attractions or installing something new on a two or three-year cycle. Everything our team creates is scalable for implementation in most of our locations, and has a positive impact on guests, which allows us to appeal to a large cross-section of the population.”
Sky Zone’s constant innovation allows them to appeal to all guests from the energy-filled kindergartener to the adventurous parent. The goal of the company is to ensure that anyone who walks into a park can fully experience every attraction. To appeal to the masses, the company has evolved from the original trampoline-only design into a multifeatured park, rolling out new attractions like the Warrior Course, zip line, trapeze, tug-of-war, Warped Wall, and jousting, to name a few. The aforementioned “Warrior Course” is Lambeth’s favorite attraction, which tests guests on their speed, strength, and agility while navigating through precarious obstacles along a course. In addition to the ever-changing nature of the park, Sky Zone’s emphasis on “active play” has become a key component to the franchise’s success.
“Parents love active play that gets their kids off the couch, away from their phones or computers, and shows them that activities that don’t require a screen can be fun,” Lambeth says. “Some activities at Sky Zone completely eliminate that technological aspect, while some (like augmented climbing and jumping) incorporate it to enhance the activity. But, you’re never static when you play them; you’re always moving. We combine technology with interactivity to make the best of both worlds and keep guests engaged.”
Apart from constantly updating its attractions, Sky Zone is also finding opportunity to advance in smaller markets. While its current model is geared to markets with over 100,000 people, Matt’s team is researching ways to downsize the model to make it successful within a market half that size. Creating a model for small markets will open up more growth opportunities domestically and internationally every year.
Lambeth’s deep roots in Sky Zone have allowed him to foresee the present success of the company and carry it toward future accomplishments. Much like the nature of Sky Zone, his tenure has been active, encouraging him to bounce between a plethora of responsibilities that are necessary to smoothly run the establishment. As the company moves toward its new chapters, Lambeth continues to foster his passions and inspire his team to adopt the same sense of hard work and dedication that makes the company soar above the rest.
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