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Chance Finds New Partner, Plans Future Growth
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A global leader in amusement rides, roller coasters, observation wheels and people movers from Kiddie trains to Replica Streetcar buses has formed a unique partnership  ensuring its future  growth and stability.  Witchita-based Chance Rides Manufacturing, Inc. a family-owned business since its 1961 founding and one of a handful of domestic ride manufacturers left in the industry, has  joined Missouri-based Permanent Equity, a private equity firm.

“This company has meant everything to me, it's been my life and my family for so many years,” said Dick Chance, Owner & CEO. “It was my main goal to continue the legacy of Chance Rides long after I'm gone, and for the company to be successful in the future. I've had the honor of leading the company for close to 40 years and I know Permanent Equity will help the Chance legacy continue far beyond the next 40 years.”

 Chance Manufacturing Company, Inc., was founded by Harold Chance in 1961 in Wichita with  a signature product, the C.P. Huntington train.  A classic design based on an 1863 locomotive, the C.P. Huntington Train are used as rides, tour vehicles, and parking shuttles. Chance has produced more than 400 trains. Another notable early product introduction that influenced the entire industry was the Trabant – the first trailer-mounted amusement ride.  By the 1970s, Chance Manufacturing was a leader in developing rides that are now standards on midways and amusement parks worldwide, including the Zipper, YO-YO and Skydiver.

 In addition to equipment innovations, Chance has been a leader in safety and technical standards. Harold organized the first amusement ride safety seminar in 1971; it's now known as AIMS, Amusement Industry Manufacturers & Suppliers, Int. In 2023, over 700 people attended its 6-day safety seminar. After Harold's 1985 retirement,  Dick Chance started Chance Industries, Inc.. with its subsidiaries: Chance Rides, Chance Coach and Chance Engineering, expanding into ornate carousels and urban transit buses. The family tradition continued in 1998, when  Michael, Dick's oldest son, joined the company and expanded Chance's theme park footprint as the company began building rollercoasters and thrill rides.

By 2001, Michael acquired the roller coaster designs of D.H. Morgan Manufacturing in California and formed Chance Morgan Coasters, Inc. The manufacturing was moved to its Wichita headquarters while engineering remained in California. Michael served as the president of Chance Rides until he passed away in 2016.  In 2004, Chance American Wheels, LLC teamed with European partners to produce R60 (60 meter tall) Observation Wheels, holding exclusive rights to the design for North America.

John Chance, Dick's second son, joined the business in 2016 and his current role is leading business development. The company operates at the same facility Harold Chance started in, spanning 250,000 square feet and employing 130 skilled workers, from welders to artists, many serving Chance Rides for more than 35 years. “We understand we play a critical role in the industry, we're the largest manufacturer in the U.S.,” said Dick. “The financial partnership allows us to continue to provide parts and services for existing Chance products.”

In 2017, Aaron Landrum joined the company as President & Chief Operating Officer. “With Permanent Equity's financial partnership, the future of Chance Rides shines brightly and with immense optimism,” he said. “Our organization thrives on the exceptional skills, capability, and dedication of our outstanding team, coupled with our longstanding commitment to delivering world-class products and services. The core values of Permanent Equity harmonize remarkably well with our own, and we envision this long-term relationship as mutually advantageous for our stakeholders.”  said Landrum. “Our diverse customer base can expect uninterrupted service and timely deliveries during this transition. This is a thrilling period for Chance Rides as we embark on new and innovative projects, expand into new markets, and actively recruit skilled professionals to join our team.”

Carnival Warehouse Interview/ Aaron Landrum. President & Chief Operating Officer.


CW: A family-owned ride manufacturer partnering with an Equity firm seems new and unique. Why this move now?

AL: As the business climate has evolved through the 21st century, and specifically post pandemic, family-owned businesses (not just in our industry) began considering private equity partnerships. What is unique about the Chance Rides and Permanent Equity partnership is the strong cultural alignment between the organizations. Chance Rides prides itself on constant evolution and growth for the long term. Permanent Equity is a non-typical private equity firm that focuses on long term partnerships combined with fundamental values such as do no harm, [being] helpful, and keeping your word. This partnership is a unique opportunity for Chance Rides (now Chance Rides, LLC) to move forward after the “family roots” and begin the evolution of Chance Rides. Chance Rides continues to value the carnival market and the long relationships that have been developed over the decades.


CW:  Like all industries, the amusement industry was impacted by the lockdown and pandemic. What role did the pandemic play in terms of changing the economic conditions of the ride market, and is this financial partnership with an equity firm a response to the new industry dynamic?

AL: The pandemic hit all of us in the industry hard, and many of our colleagues struggled. Chance Rides, through our very diverse product offering and customer base, was able to weather the storm exceptionally well. We were able to keep our team together, maintain our operations and facilities, and be ready for the post-pandemic situation. Because of our capabilities, we were also in a unique position to respond to the industry needs rapidly as the various lockdowns lifted. The pandemic did change the focus of the general population to focus on experiences, family time, and being outdoors. This shift provided the entire industry an opportunity to get people out of the digital world per se, and back to the fundamental experiences only the amusement and carnival industry can provide. The partnership is not a direct response to the new industry dynamic but focused on the long-term expansion and growth of Chance Rides.


CW: Please quantify or give a better sense of how much money will be invested in Chance by Permanent Equity and long the contract spans?

AL: While we appreciate the question, the financial details and arrangement are private and confidential. Overall, the arrangement is long term to support the long-term success of Chance Rides, LLC.


CW:  With this infusion of capital, what will be the new direction of the company? What new product lines & services & other innovations can the industry expect? What is the anticipated timeline for this your new direction?

AL: As with any recent partnership announcement, the long-term direction and path is under review and being developed holistically to best serve our customers, markets, and respond to what guests and visitors are wanting. With the new relationship of Chance Rides and Permanent Equity, there are many exciting opportunities being analyzed and selected. Specifically to portable rides and different types of rides there are on-going discussions. Chance Rides continues to support our in-field carnival rides through parts and service in the same great way as before. We can only say to expect many new developments, approaches, and products over the coming years!


CW: Will Chance Rides Manufacturing, Inc. be expanding your domestic manufacturing facilities & increasing your workforce? How important was retaining a U.S. manufacturing facility to the reaching an agreement with Permanent Equity?

AL: Permanent Equity will retain the Chance Rides name, in the form of Chance Rides, LLC and will maintain its skilled workforce and the current management team. Chance Rides isn't the only domestic manufacturer of rides in the industry; however, we have the most diverse and broad product line of any domestic ride manufacturer. As we look to the future, a key position we enjoy is our expansive and capable facility in Wichita, Kansas. With the incredible skills of a dedicated team, Wichita will continue to be our home in the heartland of U.S. With the new partnership, we see multiple avenues for expansion in team members, technology, facilities, and capabilities. Our broad facilities and team were a key part of the relationship and partnership with Permanent Equity.

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