Three of their four kids are the same age.
They often saw one another at the same school events.
Bob Geldermann recalled when he took his wife to the hospital for the birth of their youngest daughter, there was Joe Cronin coming out of the hospital with his wife and new baby born just a few days earlier.
So call it what you want — destiny, fate — but the pair of have joined forces on opening an indoor trampoline park called Jump America in Gurnee.
The park opens officially at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at 880 Lakeside Drive in a business park just off Grand Avenue, west of the tollway and near Gurnee Mills Mall.
This is a first-time venture for both, but their background suggests they knew what they were getting into. Cronin has spent 25 years in the investment business, while Geldermann is a commodities trader.
Their families were as much of a factor in each saying yes as the project itself. Cronin had heard of Extreme Trampoline in Carol Stream from his kids, so he decided to take them.
“They wanted me to take them back the next day after we had gone and there were four kids in the driveway who had heard about it and wanted to go,” Cronin said. “I decided right then that this was what we were going to do.”
Geldermann had a similar experience, though not as first person initially.
“My family had been to these trampoline parks a couple of times in Arizona,” Geldermann said. “I had not been able to go with them so I had never seen one. My family had a great time. I think it’s a great idea and it kind of went from there.”
‘A Sense of Energy’
Last fall, the pair, along with another investor, Skip Cassato of Winnetka, purchased a 51,000-square-foot building in a Gurnee corporate park. "The village has been very welcoming,” Cronin said.
Once the village approved a special use permit, they began ordering the trampolines, hiring staff and mapping out the indoor park.
“As a trader, you’re really a one-man operation,” Geldermann said in contrasting his previous job with this new one. “You live and die by how you do personally on that day. Here we are managing our employees, so this is more of a management position versus a hands-on one I was doing before.”
Cronin made numerous trips to indoor trampoline parks like Extreme, looking for ideas to incorporate or improve in their design. But each trip also brought home a consistent feel.
“From the moment I walked in there was a sense of energy,” Cronin said. “Kids were jumping, smiling, sweating. They waited in line, didn’t cut in line. They were kids having fun. There was no arguing. That told me there was something special about this.”
When customers walk into the building, they will be directed to a computer kiosk to electronically sign waiver and disclaimer forms followed by a three-minute safety video. Customers can save time by creating a profile online through the Jump America website, where reservations also can be made to book a court or special event like a birthday party.
Upon entering the trampoline park, music will be playing but not blaring. Participants will be divided by age groups (7 and younger, 8-13 and 14 and older) into separate trampoline jumping areas, each bordered by a cushiony red carpet for added safety. There are also two trampoline dodge ball courts and a foam pit where jumpers can fall into a pit containing 8,000 cubes of foam.
When friends ask him to describe what the park looks like, Cronin tells them to picture a tic-tac-toe box laid on the ground, broken into 10-foot by 10-foot squares, doubled and another square turned up on its side like a half-pipe in skiing.
But the best description comes from watching their own kids bouncing up and down being active.
“It gets the kids out and gets them some exercise,” Geldermann said. “My oldest is 15 and even she likes to come. The other three really like to come. My little daughter asks me every day, if she can go to Jump America."