Case Studies

Adventure Bay Waterpark: Building Iowa’s Family-owned and -operated Amusement

  • Written by: Adventure Bay Waterpark: Building Iowa's Family-owned and -operated Amusement
  • Produced by: Adventure Bay Waterpark: Building Iowa's Family-owned and -operated Amusement
  • Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Cameron-Mitchell Inc. (CMI) represents the hard work of two generations of concrete professionals. Dan Cameron, president and founder of CMI, learned the concrete trade from his father. Fresh out of high school, Cameron joined his father and found himself so enamored with the concrete industry that by the time his father decided to bow out, Cameron realized he wasn’t quite ready to leave. He partnered with Jerry Mitchell, a longtime employee of his father, and launched CMI in 1989. Now, 23 years later Cameron, Mitchell and the CMI team continue to deliver projects with the enthusiasm and experience of a family-owned and operated company.

Even as concrete construction has become increasingly technical, the CMI team gauges its success along straightforward terms. “We have always wanted our clients to walk away from the project satisfied with the quality of workmanship we delivered and with our ability to meet the original schedule and budget,” explains Cameron. The company is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, and focuses primarily on commercial and institutional projects within a 200-mile radius of the Des Moines metro area, though the team is willing and able to travel farther for the right projects.

Teamwork and a proactive approach are the cornerstones of CMI’s corporate culture, which has enabled the firm to expand on its capabilities as a concrete construction specialist with general contracting and project management capabilities. Superintendents Mike Ogle and Jimmy Cameron, for example, work very hard to coordinate safe site operations and keep the entire team on the same page, making every project a positive one for the client. The employees are the backbone of a successful job and their customer satisfaction-focused attitude helps CMI be a successful company. CMI pursues work with long-term growth in mind, understanding that strengthening the company’s reputation comes before short-term gains. “I want CMI to become a family company that grows steadily and gets to celebrate 75-year and 100-year anniversaries,” admits Cameron.

Playing to Win

Such a long-term goal requires CMI to approach every project as a stepping-stone to the next in hopes of building a reputation as strong as the concrete CMI pours. In its first quarter-century of activity CMI has managed to establish itself as a reliable, responsive and professional choice in concrete construction and general contracting through word-of-mouth and ambition. “We do bid work, but we want to continue to be the company that can win contracts even if we’re not the lowest bidder, because the client knows the quality of work we will deliver,” asserts Cameron.

CMI has managed to secure work despite not being the lowest bidder even in recent years and as competition in all market sectors increased. CMI recently completed work on the third phase of development to Adventure Bay, a water park developed adjacent to the Adventureland Amusement Park in Altoona, Iowa. Landing this showcase project is an accomplishment Cameron insists comes from a combination of hard bid and negotiation. Adventureland numbers amongst the few remaining family-owned and -operated amusement parks in the country, so it’s appropriate that CMI, an equally relationship-focused company, was tapped to oversee concrete construction and project management for the latest addition at Adventure Bay.

CMI previously worked on the first two phases of development, beginning with the construction of Kokomo Kove in 2008. Kokomo Kove sits adjacent to Adventureland’s famous Tornado roller coaster, which was built in 1979 and regularly ranks among the top 10 roller coasters in the country. Kokomo Kove added seven water slides, a giant tipping bucket, and plenty of interactive water features to the long lists of amenities at Adventureland, and Heron Harbor was added in 2009, providing a variety of attractions for the younger guests.

When Experience Matters Most

The second phase significantly augmented Adventure Bay’s amenities adding 13 new waterslides, Iowa’s longest lazy river, a sand beach sun deck, cabanas and a swimming pool complete with a swim-up bar for adults. “We had a lot of bad weather that spring, but we got through it and worked together to get the park ready in time for it to open Memorial Day 2010,” recalls Cameron.

The Adventure Bay projects were not exactly CMI’s first foray into aquatics construction. The company previously provided its concrete expertise to the construction of the Winterset Aquatics Center in Winterset, Iowa, a public facility that snagged CMI the 2006 Iowa Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s Award for Excellence in Concrete in the recreational public-works category. There were still new challenges when it came to Adventure Bay, however, but nothing CMI could not handle. CMI managed all of the flatwork and concrete work across the water park, working with subcontractors for all mechanical, electrical and specialty trades. “We worked with subcontractors from a list of preferred contacts recommended by the owner and it worked out very well for us,” adds Cameron.

The third and final phase of Adventure Bay included the construction of Breaker Beach, Iowa’s largest wave pool at over 25,000 square feet. Additional deluxe and premium cabanas were added, as well as Shipwreck Shores, a shipwreck-themed pool complete with a family-friendly swim-up beverage center and plenty of interactive water features. The final phase opened on time and on budget in early summer 2012, rounding out Adventureland’s over 100 amusements with plenty of ways to cool off from the hot summer sun.

Development at Adventure Bay may have wrapped up, but opportunity looms large for CMI. “We have seen a real growth in the amount of opportunities for agricultural research facilities and universities in our area, so I feel very positively about the future,” says Cameron. CMI will also look to increase its visibility in the marketplace with a stronger web presence as well.

Ultimately, Cameron and the CMI team will focus on building a company with a sterling reputation built on the values of teamwork, experience and integrity. As the next generation rises up the ranks to take the helm, Cameron-Mitchell Inc. will prove that hard work, experience and a focus on family values can carry a company through a lifetime of achievements.

Published on: March 5, 2013

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