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Columbia Business Monthly

#5 - Plex HiWire Family Fun and Sports Center

Nov 01, 2017 12:35PM ● By Emily Stevenson
#5 Plex HiWire Family Fun & Sports Center 
Columbia, S.C. 
Mike Harris, Founder & President 

Founded in 2005, Plex HiWire Family Fun & Sports Center is a sport and entertainment company with locations in Sandhill and Irmo. Each complex provides a variety of activities and services with emphasis on their HiWire Trampoline Parks and Game Arcades, as well as a roller-skating rink, Sector X laser tag, and indoor sports area at the Sandhill location and an ice skating rink at the Irmo location.

What are the keys to your company’s rapid growth?
Our goal has been to fill the recreation voids in the community by providing family-oriented activity-based fun and exercise. We love cross-generational activities that have families moving together. We have evolved as the market has changed because we want to be current and relevant to what families are looking for in a family entertainment center. 

What do you see as your company’s greatest opportunities in the future?
Ninja Warrior obstacle courses in addition to our trampoline parks will be a huge growth area. This has been such an explosive athletic phenomenon that has swept across the country because of the TV show “American Ninja Warrior.” We have plans to start Plex Lex[ington], which will focus on the NINJA aspect in addition to a trampoline park.

What are your biggest challenges and how do you plan to overcome them?
Competition is always coming after your book of business. We need to stay current and continue to provide a fun, safe and entertaining venue for families where they can come and just have good clean FUN! 

What advice can you offer someone just starting a business?
Starting a business is never easy but anything really good never is easy. It takes longer and more work than you can ever imagine and there’s never an OFF button.

What is your strategy for innovation?
We consistently visit other family entertainment centers around the world to see what is fresh and working. We always want to stay current and be ahead of our competition while also listening to our customers and what they want in an FEC.  

Who do you consider to be your mentor/mentors in business?
My dad and God are my two biggest mentors.  

Does your company’s geographic location offer any specific advantages?
We are part of the S.C. community. We are a business that was funded by local South Carolinians who want to have a positive influence on kids and families in South Carolina.

How many employees do you have and do you plan to add any in the coming year?
120, with 60 new jobs coming with Plex Lex.

How is your company legally structured?
Manager Managed LLC.

What is the hardest thing about being a founder?
Being the founder and the leader of the company means not only the investors, but also the management and staff depend on you to make the company successful. It also means taking ownership of the failures and giving credit to all those who contribute to the company’s success.   

What is the best thing about being a founder?
God gave me a vision to build this business. My family and so many families in the community have enjoyed the cross generational activities at Plex HiWire. Walking into the parks and hearing and seeing the positive energy and laughter is very rewarding and it truly is the best.  

If you are a founder, at what point did you start paying yourself?
It took more than 10 years before we even turned a profit, so this endeavor has not been about the monetary incentive.