"Seeing those smiles on our guests’ faces when you walk around the Park, knowing that I played a small part in making sure that their day was safe, secure and enjoyable."
Up Close: Profile of the Director of Maintenance for Hersheypark
Every company has employees who leave a legacy. One of ours is Gary Chubb, Director of Maintenance for Hersheypark. Gary applied and was hired back in 1967, and from that day forward he has poured his heart and soul in to this company. A lot has changed since 1967, but one thing that remains constant is Gary’s passion for the job. He is highly respected not only among his colleagues but the amusement park industry, as a whole. Gary’s unwavering support for his team members, constant smile and endless knowledge are just a few items that will be missed when he retires later this year.
Between Gary’s busy schedule of helping to manage the maintenance shop, attending meetings, sitting on numerous committees and keeping Hersheypark looking its best, I was lucky enough to grab a few precious moments of his time. Gary has had an incredible journey with Hershey Entertainment & Resorts (HE&R) and I’m excited to share his story with you.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro (like Gary) or looking for your first job, I hope you’ll join us for our Hersheypark Job Fair on Tuesday, March 12 from 3-7 pm at Giant Center. Learn more and secure your interview time by visiting Hersheypark.com/Jobs.
Q) Tell us about your career. Where did you go to school? What was your career path prior to joining Hershey?
A) Growing up, I really wasn’t that interested in a higher education since I was one of those persons that just liked to work. I’m a graduate of Hershey High School, class of 1971. Following graduation, I attended a half year of business school before starting full-time as a mechanic at Hersheypark in1972.
Q) Walk us through your career so far at Hershey.
A) Okay, I’ll give you the short version……..I started at Hershey Park (at that time the name was two words) at the ripe old age of 14 years old, back in 1967. I started in the Foods department selling drinks for 10 cents in tickets for a small drink and 15 cents in tickets for a large drink – plus a penny tax in cash. My hourly rate was $1.00 per hour. When I turned 16 I not only worked in the Park in the summers, I began working as a “Rink Rat” at the historic Hersheypark Arena; driving the Zamboni, sharpening ice skates, monitoring Public Skating Sessions, setting up and taking down the glass around the arena ice level and setting up for concerts. I also worked at the “Bridge” refreshment stand that was in the old Ballroom where we served food to guests enjoying themselves at the former Park Pool.
At the age of 18 I started to work part-time in Maintenance in the summers at the old Turnpike ride that was located down by the Creek, underneath the high bridge in the Park. I continued working in the Arena during non-park operating seasons.
In January of 1972, I saw a posting to become a Third Class Ride Mechanic at the Park and was hired full-time in that position. Later that year I won the lottery – the Draft Lottery, and I entered the U.S. Army for a three year stint.
Upon being discharged from the Army in 1975 I returned to the Park in a salaried position as the Assistant Rink Manager in the winter and as a Ride Supervisor in the summer. From 1977 through 1989 I held various positions at the Park including Assistant Operations Manager, Operations Manager, Director of Operations and Assistant General Manager. In 1989 I was assigned to a “cross training” assignment where I was moved to the Corporate Offices as Safety and Security Director. That lasted until early 1994 when I was recruited by the former owners of Dutch Wonderland to become their Park Manager. After a lot of soul searching and weighing the positives and negatives I made the difficult decision to leave HE&R in March 1994 and work at Dutch Wonderland Entertainment Complex. I left the company on positive terms and as it turned out that was a very good thing!
Move ahead eight park seasons later and the owners of Dutch Wonderland approached HE&R to purchase their park. After almost a year of intense due diligence work, HE&R purchased Dutch Wonderland. The day the agreement was signed in November of 2001 – I was a Dutch Wonderland employee that morning until noon when I returned to the folds of HE&R and have been back in Hershey ever since. I now serve as Senior Director of Maintenance at the Park.
Q) Why did you choose to work for Hershey?
A) Well, as a kid growing up in Hershey I tended to hang around the Park quite a bit. When I was eligible to work here at the age of 14 I was hired and the rest is history.
Q) What's your favorite ride at Hersheypark?
A) At my age – the Carrousel is #1. However, I do like the classic Comet coming in at #2 and our only launch coaster, Storm Runner would be my #3.
Q) What's the most rewarding aspect of your job?
A) Seeing those smiles on our guests’ faces when you walk around the Park, knowing that I played a small part in making sure that their day was safe, secure and enjoyable. I will also add getting to know and work with many great employees that we have now and those who have worked here at one time or another.
Q) What's your biggest accomplishment since joining the Hershey team?
A) Wow, where do I start? I feel there have been many accomplishments over my tenure here at HE&R. Having been here for so many years, I’m proud to say that I played a small role in the development of the Park over the years. Just seeing us finally get into the waterpark business in 2007 was a huge endeavor – something that we had talked about for many years. Ensuring the safety of our guests and employees, planning for new rides, working with internal and external departments, being a park and town resource, having lots of industry knowledge and giving historic perspectives are likely my biggest contributions and accomplishments.
Q) What advice would you give someone interested in a career in amusement parks?
A) If you want to make a career in this business, make sure you get to know the business. Take time to learn what all the departments do where you are working, make lots of industry contacts, join industry related groups and perform to the best of your ability.
Q) What's the best perk of your job?
A) For me it’s knowing that no two days are usually ever the same. Meeting and making friends in the industry and just knowing you can contact them if you need assistance is a big perk. Oh, and the benefits that we get here at HE&R with our various discounts are huge as well.
Q) What does a typical day consist of?
A) What, we have typical days??? Depends on the season. If the Park is open my day would start looking at the Manager On Duty report and ride related reports from the prior day, along with any guest comments. Then, check the weather forecast along with emails and try to get out in the Park before it opens for the day either by foot or on a golf cart to see what things look like and follow up on items that need addressed from the day before. After the gates are open I monitor what’s going on inside the Park, approve numerous purchase orders, review reports, look at more emails, attend some meetings and set priorities for the next day.
Q) Tell us something folks might not know about you.
A) I still have my first pay stub from 1967 showing that I made $1.00 per hour. I met my wife at the Park. In 1979 during the Three Mile Island (TMI) incident the Arena became an Evacuation Center for families living within five miles of TMI – I was on the team that operated Hersheypark Arena around the clock for the initial evacuees that came to the Arena. I was on the original committee that developed Hersheypark Christmas Candylane in 1983, as we sat around a Candyland Board Game thinking of ways to decorate the Park. I’m a Certified Attractions Executive, past President of PA Amusement Parks Association, and have received numerous industry safety related awards. I help write amusement industry related standards and work closely with our state on Amusement Ride Safety. I’ve been through two of the largest floods to ever hit the Park in 1972 and 2011. I’ve most likely have had more offices at the Entertainment Complex than anyone else. In addition, I’ve been through 11 Park General Managers during my time here. During the mid-1950’s my mother would enter me in the “Baby Parade” that was held in the Park every year. I like Jimmy Buffett music, and I’m retiring at the end of May.