Author: 
Joe Elerson-Athens Daily Review

The fascination of climbing walls, roller coasters and trams at amusement parks has propelled Extreme Engineering to one of the top businesses in the area since 2012.

Led by founder and chief executive officer Jeff Wilson, the company made a move from Newcastle, California to Athens in the summer of 2012.

With the company located at 1391 Flat Creek Road in Athens, Wilson said making the move was one of the best decisions he has made for the future of the company.

“As far as timing, I underestimated the resources of moving from one state to another. I was certainly naïve on the cost of what that would take plus emotionally, financially and other resources from the company,” Wilson said. “Managing a company culture like this that moves you to bring new people in from a different subculture, you have to find ways to maintain the company culture while you are doing it and that really strains the ship. If I was talking to somebody that was doing it again, I would have a different perspective about how to manage through that.”

He said in the 21-year history of the company, coming from a population of 900 people to 15,000 people in Athens was beneficial in them winning awards for the development of roller coasters.

“Without Athens, we would not have won our last big international award on a roller coaster that we developed. It was mostly built and completed in Athens and it just turned out we were going to do the product development stages in California,” Wilson said. “At the last minute, we moved it to Athens and it was the absolute correct choice and we leapt forward because of that. It confirmed our decision to go to Athens was correct.”

When it comes to the size of Athens, Wilson said he thinks it is funny when we compare it to a small town atmosphere.

“It is funny, I hear folks from Athens continually refer to it as a small town. You are 15,000 people and the town that we came from is 900 people,” Wilson said. “You are 10-to-15 times bigger than where we came from. To us, it is not a small town and I am glad that we made the move. A lot of things came along the way that were gifts and helped us get through some tough times.”

In a 2012 article printed in the Athens Daily Review, Wilson said working with the Athens Economic Development Corporation was great. “AEDC has been very helpful in getting us started. AEDC was persistent but not intrusive,” he said of the Athens economic development team.

He said when he looks at the current progress of the company, he knows they have bigger goals for the future of Extreme Engineering in Athens.

“I am far from where I want to be. I would love to have a program where TVCC for example would have us involved in part of the education,” Wilson said. “Today, it seems like there is a huge Grand Canyon size gap in California between academia and commerce. It seems to be ever widening rather than getting closer. I would like to avoid that in Texas and see what we can do to help that.”

He said with their current building, they are starting to outgrow the space they have since they are working on roller coasters.

“One of the big areas we have moved into in 2015 is roller coasters. It is a particular segment within the roller coaster market. The real challenge we have is we have outgrown the building that we have moved into in a short period of time,” Wilson said. “We are now renting additional space from adjoining buildings which will probably always be the case. That is a good way to deal with some of the growth. We will probably get to the point within the next quarter or first half of the year where we will have to build an additional building to deal with some of the new business.”

He said along with roller coasters, Extreme Engineering is working on tramways, climbing walls and zip lines.

“One of our goals is to become the premier supplier of roller coasters in the segment under $1.5 million dollar range,” Wilson said. “Another one is to create and manage trams that go up and down hillsides throughout the world. My first project is working to be in Bali and to solidify our design for a tram that will be on the Indian Ocean.”

Even with the projects they are building in their facility, the employees of the company want to make sure that customer satisfaction is at the top of their goals in the future.

“If you are looking at the main areas of our company, customer satisfaction is our focus. We want to make sure that the customer is happy with what they get and it is at a value,” Wilson said. “If I am thinking anything that regards our focus, we want to make sure they have a value. The products come and go and that is true with any company. What you produce does not define you. It is really about your customer and satisfying customer needs and giving them a value is what we do.”

He said when it comes to thinking about the future of the company, they have to make sure they are following goals which are attainable to the company. “I think what you are asking about in those future milestones is sustainable. Having fundamental metrics based on customers and not on product allows for sustainable. That way you can mold yourself to the products needs. I think we have to make sure those milestones are fine and those are what we call wild goals that we are trying to achieve. If we are not out there trying to achieve wild, audacious goals, then you are not challenging yourself.”

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