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Terry Shea ’78 is an arcade games entrepreneur
Jan. 11, 2012
Terry Shea ’78 is taking arcade games out of the mall and out on the road.
Shea is the founder ofGames on the Go, a business based in Florida that rents out an RV filled with the latest arcade games for birthday parties and other events.
The idea came when a friend’s wife complained about the hassle of bringing her young children and their friends to arcades and other party venues.
“She said, ‘I’d pay anything for someone to bring it to me as long as it was clean,’” Shea recalled.
In 2005, Shea decided to be that someone when he commissioned the Games on the Go RV, a custom-built, air conditioned entertainment center that can be filled with a wide range of games.
“It’s the latest and greatest of the high-tech, old style arcade games,” he said.
Games on the Go serves birthday parties, after school programs for school districts, and adult functions like corporate events, local PGA competitions and parties hosted by sports celebrities. The business also works with local charities.
The business is successful enough that Shea is noticing imitators across the country and he is beginning to market franchising opportunities. Games on the Go has been featured in RePlay Magazine, an industry trade journal for arcade operators, as well as local television and newspaper outlets.
“If I leave a mark on the world, it’s that I came up with this business, and it’s a lot of fun doing it,” he said.
When Shea started Games on the Go, he already had managerial experience and start-up capital from owning prior businesses: a Sir Speedy franchise and his own mortgage company.
“I’ve owned a number of businesses over the years and I thought that this would be a fun thing to do without a lot of pressure,” Shea said. “It’s worked out well.”
Shea credited the Community College of Rhode Island, called Rhode Island Junior College when he attended, with giving him his start as a businessman.
“It got me out of the stagnancy of not going to school, of being a worker bee,” Shea said. “Subsequently, I’ve done pretty well.”
Shea attended RIJC from 1976 to 1978 immediately following service in the U.S. Navy. He is originally from Massachusetts but moved to Rhode Island to live with his sister. Not knowing exactly what he wanted to do, he decided RIJC would be a good place to begin his education and served as class parliamentarian for the student government during his last year at RIJC.
“It was a great place to go to school,” Shea said. “The professors that I remember having also taught at Brown University, so you got the Ivy League professors teaching at RIJC.”
Shea always intended to continue his education but he started working for the Savin Corporation selling copy machines after he graduated, and he moved around the country from Colorado to Nebraska to Pennsylvania. He wound up in Florida in 1986 and decided to go into business for himself.
“I got tired of working for somebody else,” he said. “I guess it’s the American dream of owning your own business and making your own way and having the results to show for it.”
Shea called his RIJC education “the basis for my professional career.”