Construction in Florida
Pay to play: Adults operating heavy equipment - for fun
People at Play is based in Bradenton.
People at Play allows grown-ups to operate heavy equipment.
When Jason and Alisa Bennett founded Bennett Contracting in Bradenton in 2000, there was plenty of business for the site development and underground utilities contractor — marketing was barely necessary. “People would just call us and say, ‘When can you get started?’ ” says Alisa Bennett, the company’s vice president.
Then came the downturn. The company’s billings fell by 63% from 2007 to 2008. With revenue decimated, the Bennetts ramped up their marketing efforts, hosting a barbecue for a group of civil engineers in hopes that the engineers might steer business their way. As part of the event, the Bennetts let the engineers drive some of their heavy equipment — just for fun. The engineers “went crazy,” she says.
“We watched how happy and excited they were,” says Jason Bennett, the company’s president. “We knew there was a business idea in there.”
Alisa and Jason Bennett
“It’s totally a bucket list thing,” Alisa Bennett says. “They say they always wanted to do this.”
For now, People at Play is a weekend enterprise. Bennett Contracting, which is seeing its business pick up and had $4 million in revenue last year, uses the equipment during the week. But the Bennetts think People at Play can grow. They say the nearest business like it is located in Las Vegas.
“We’re looking at bringing it to a larger market,” Alisa Bennett says. “We’re looking at some locations in Orlando right now.”