Entrepreneur Stories and Featured Entrepreneurs

Ed Mumm Presents Sandbox Fun for Grownups

Written by Chris Martin for Gaebler Ventures

Ever need some of that good old Tonka toy nostalgia? Ed Mumm brings that to life for $750 a day to play in a trencher.

Remember when you were a kid and you used to play in a sandbox at a park or in your backyard?

You used to spend countless hours moving dirt around, basking in the power of your imaginary heavy equipment? Do you miss those days sometimes?

If so, then you need to go visit Ed Mumm. This entrepreneur can help you relive your childhood - on a grownup scale.

Those who travel to Mumm's "office" outside of Steamboat Springs, Colorado can experience what may become the most unique form of entertainment in the new decade: playing with bulldozers, earth-movers, and other heavy equipment. Appropriately named Dig This, Mumm charges $750 a day, $400 for a half day, or $200 an hour for the opportunity to climb inside a Caterpillar trencher and play in five acres of sand.

A foolish idea? Hundreds of people take him up on his offer each year. And he plans to franchise Dig This and open locations in Las Vegas as well as Orlando - two areas known for diverse forms of entertainment.

Ed Mumm stumbled on the idea for his business the way many other entrepreneurs do - by discovering a new way to have fun. While in the process of building a home in Steamboat in 2004, he rented a bulldozer to clear his land and sought out a friend who was knowledgeable in heavy equipment to help him. Mumm says that he started having so much fun with earth movers, he started wondering if he could sell similar experiences to other people like him.

So after leasing the sandy acreage, Mumm found insurance coverage for his enterprise, rented six Caterpillars, and opened up for business in 2007. He initially focused on tourist groups, corporate gatherings, and teambuilding venue seekers as his target market for what he called his "heavy equipment adventures."

The Dig This experience is more than just pushing dirt around with big-boy toys. Mumm has divided his sessions into small competitions, giving customers the chance to dig a straight trench, push a two-ton boulder through a cone obstacle course, and build a ramp and then drive over it.

And adventurers needn't worry about safety issues. Mumm maintains a strict ratio of one instructor for every two clients, and all employees and equipment drivers are always in contact with each other via radio. Mumm says that there has never been an accident during Dig This activities; in fact, he claims that his customers are safer than they would be riding horses on a dude ranch. He says it's impossible to fall out of the machines, and their smart engineering makes them practically foolproof.

Mumm thinks that his future in multi-acre sandboxes looks bright if his expansion plans for Las Vegas and Orlando are carried out. He says that if he can convince just one out of every 1,000 of the tens of millions of tourists who visit those cities each year to try Dig This, he will consider his endeavor a success.

Conventional wisdom says that we all have to give up the activities of our youth when we become adults. But not only did Ed Mumm refuse to let go of his childish ways; he found a way to make money off of them.

Chris Martin has been a professional writer for the last seven years. He is interested in franchises and equity acquisition.

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