Vekoma files for bankruptcy protection (updated)

Posted Thursday, August 23, 2001 5:12 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Vekoma, manufacturer of boomerangs, suspended looping coasters (SLC's) and Flying Dutchman coasters, yesterday filed for bankruptcy protection. Sources who work with Vekoma say that their cash flow problems stem from non-payment on their giant inverted boomerangs (Deja Vu), two Flying Dutchman coasters (Batwing and X-Flight) and two other coasters. These new coasters at various Six Flags parks have been delayed most of the season or are not running at full capacity, due in part to alleged technical problems.

Update: Additional information about the effect on Jazzland's new SLC can be found at The Times-Picayune.

Thursday, August 23, 2001 5:18 AM
Well, I hate to see this happen, hopefully they can rebound, but it was bound to happen with the year that they have had in regards to rides not running at all or at diminished capacity. 

I bet that Six Flags when they do pay for the Deja Vus will pay a reduced price for losses that they incurred due to them opening late or not until next season...

"It's Deja Vu all over again." - Yogi Berra

Thursday, August 23, 2001 5:23 AM
This situation is very similar to the Chance rides bankruptcy protection earlier in the summer. I don't blame Six Flags for not paying them yet either.....I mean, If I purchase something and it doesnt meet to my expectations, than I will return it. A coaster is a little harder to return, so they will hold back on payments until the rides run to their full expectations.

On an observer side note, seeing that Jazzland is having financial problems as well, I wonder if they will be paying cash or financing the SLC through Vekoma.

Just remember kids.....financing customers yorself can always cause problems getting your NEVER NEVER NEVER finance a customer, let banking institutuions do that, since you'll always get YOUR money

Thursday, August 23, 2001 5:29 AM
Thats what vekoma gets for shipping such sub standard products Well i geuss thats the end of flying dutcmans . too bad but the B&M's will be way better.
Thursday, August 23, 2001 5:33 AM
Good riddens, I hope they never build another coaster ever again.  Everything they build is terrible and breaks down daily!
Thursday, August 23, 2001 6:08 AM
Note to self: Do not extend credit to Six Flags...

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Thursday, August 23, 2001 6:15 AM
I really hope Vekoma  doesn't go out of business as it was reported on Fright Time that the 3rd Custom SLC has been announced for 2002. As said on the site, could this be a new era of SLCs? (Or not.) I, for one, am a fan of Vekoma as they're the main suppliers of coasters down under.

*** This post was edited by Taipan on 8/23/2001. ***

Thursday, August 23, 2001 6:20 AM
New thought that would happen.  Im glad it happened.
Thursday, August 23, 2001 6:31 AM
WOOOHOOOOO!!!! That's all I've got to say.
Thursday, August 23, 2001 6:36 AM
I was at Six Flags America yesturday and Batwing was only running one train. We waited an hour and a half, where the rest of the rides were 15-20 minutes. I thought the problem was Six Flags's staff, (which is poor at best) but this would explain why they were only running one train. But the most interesting thing was when we were on Two Face, the brakes forgot to grab the train before it was to return to the station. We blew through the station and went halfway through the first inversion, and back through the station, up the lift hill a third time, through the station and stopped halfway up the first inversion. Being in the front row, I had a nice view of the sky. We sat for about five minutes before the brakes released and we rolled back to the station. Yet another gem from Vekoma.
Thursday, August 23, 2001 6:59 AM
Some of you seem to act like it's a good thing that Vekoma is having trouble. It isn't.

When a small park looks to buy a major steel coaster, Vekoma is the first company they'd turn to. What local park can actually afford a B&M? Now, though, they'll be stuck buying used rides, woodies from CCI, or maybe trying to get a coaster cheap from Arrow.

Besides, Vekoma brought a lot of originality to the coaster industry. Boomerangs are unique rides, and invertigos are even better. I'm sure the Super Invertigos, once they open, will be considered just as good as Intamin Impulses, which everyone seems to love. Plus, they're Flying Dutchmans are fantastic rides. B&M may have their own version coming out, but because of a deal with Alton Towers we probably won't see any in the States for several years. And from what I can tell by looking at the layout of AIR, B&M is going to be conservative in terms of inversions.

It's never a good thing to see a company go bankrupt, especially not a company so important to the theme park/roller coaster industry. I, for one, hope they manage to pull through.

Thursday, August 23, 2001 7:07 AM
When you buy from the lowest bidder, this kind of stuff happens.  I disagree with Zero G to this extent...the small parks are getting the screws b/c they have now invested a lot of money (by their standards) for a major attraction that doesn't work.  Maybe the B & M's and Intamins will find some room to get into the cheaper thrill rides with Vekoma tanking.
Thursday, August 23, 2001 7:22 AM
Just keep in mind, they're not going out of business, this is simply a re-organization. 

If filing for bankruptcy meant you HAD to go out of business, California power company PG&E should have been burned to the ground by now. 

Thursday, August 23, 2001 7:26 AM
If my source is correct, I can't say that I blame Six Flags for not paying up, since their product is obviously not performing. Think about SF Great America... one of their "new" rides for 2001 still hasn't open. How many people put off their visits to wait for the ride to open?

On the other hand, as someone mentioned above, it doesn't make much sense being a creditor for something that expensive. At the same time, their engineering obviously leaves something to be desired. Deja Vu and the Flying Dutchman are the joke of the industry this year.

It's not a good thing for them to go away, however. A boomerang is still a nice addition to a small park, and the rides like Woodstock Express and Reptar are the most outstanding kid/family rides I've ever seen, much better than that lame and boring Zierer stuff. Parks need those.

We'll have to see what this means for the company long-term. Their cash flow problems are the least of their worries... they have a reputation they have to beat.

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Thursday, August 23, 2001 7:46 AM
This is from Vekoma's homesite. As you see Vekoma won't be gone, actually they're growing!!!!

March 6, 2001

Vekoma Redefines Corporate Split to Meet Market Demands

Vlodrop, The Netherlands - In response to increased competition within the entertainment industry, Vekoma is redefining its corporate structure in an effort to meet growing demands. While there has, for some time, been a distinction between Vekoma Manufacturing and Vekoma International, the two will operate even more independently under a new plan designed to better benefit customers.

Roger Houben, Vekoma President, will head Vekoma International in an effort to fully concentrate on providing unparalleled sales and customer service, designing new ride concepts, and handling overall marketing efforts. Managing Director, Dave Bebelaar will now handle the daily operations of Vekoma Manufacturing, which will focus solely on the production of rides.

The plan, which is in initial stages, will be put into effect within six months and require approximately 60 employees to either leave or find new positions within the company. Vekoma Manufacturing will remain in Vlodrop, while Vekoma International will relocate to a more easily accessible location in The Netherlands.

“The size of the company and its operations were growing so large that we had to make the split to work more efficiently,’ Houben said. “Our goal in the end is to better arm ourselves to fulfill customer demands by spending more time with each and, ultimately, create even stronger relationships,” he said.

*** This post was edited by olov on 8/23/2001. ***

Thursday, August 23, 2001 7:54 AM

Zero G Roll said:
"They'll be stuck buying .... woodies from CCI"

"Vekoma brought a lot of originality to the coaster industry"

Dosen't sound too bad to me.Cookie Cutter coasters aren't original.  Companies that build there rides to match the terrain or look of the park are original.  Vekoma dosen't make world-class coasters.  They don't build original coasters like Raptor, Shivering Timbers, or Magnum.

Thursday, August 23, 2001 7:59 AM
No matter how things are being financed, you don't pay if the contractor doesn't deliver.  This is standard practice in the construction business.  If the bank just blithely paid the contractor, they would be negligent and subject to possible civil and criminal action for not being responsible in the manner in which they handled the depositor's money.  In many cases there is even a retainer that is not paid until a year after completion of construction to guarantee that the contractor takes care of any corrections that need to be made.  The customer is not going to pay the last of the money to the contractor until things are right, because holding back that money is his most powerful point in any negotiations.

To use a consumer example, suppose you had a house built and the house couldn't pass building inspection for you to move in.  Neither you nor your mortgage lender would be about to give the contractor any payments still due.

As for Vekoma's current situation.  They are building a record number of coasters this year for any modern coaster company, 19 that I know of.  Several of these coasters also are very innovative.  ( Did you know that there is a computer network of sorts on the Batwing trains?)  This seems to have left them overextended both financially and technically.  It's the old story of uncontrolled growth leading to uncontrolled disaster.  No, I'm not happy about this, both the public and Vekoma suffer.  I'm just trying to look at what happened.

Thursday, August 23, 2001 7:59 AM
That's from March 6, though -- old news.

I agree with Jeff about some of Vekoma's offerings being valuable.  If Vekoma were to disappear, that would be a BAD thing overall, not a good thing, even if I'm not personally a big fan of theirs.

As for Six Flags not paying them yet, I can't blame them. Deja Vu's are FINALLY getting ready to open? The Dutchmen still aren't running to full capacity with the reclining-on-the-lift?

My page  My other page  And my coaster page
*** This post was edited by GregLeg on 8/23/2001. ***

Thursday, August 23, 2001 8:04 AM
Ok this was from march, now look when this plan would be put to action...

The plan, which is in initial stages, will be put into effect within six months and require approximately 60 employees to either leave or find new positions within the company.

Ok?!?! read the artical, it will explain the whole thing.
Thursday, August 23, 2001 8:12 AM
A sad thing.

Vekoma had its faults but was innovative and changed many things in the coasterbusiness.

Rides not operating at SF has more to do with SF maintenance.

Changes of small parks getting a coaster are drastically reduced.

Very unlikely Vekoma has to lay off 200 people.  They only employ 250.


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