A business that began in 1977 in a garage in West Jacksonville has evolved into a state-of-the-art design and manufacturing facility in the LaVilla section of Downtown.
Sally Corp. was the site Thursday of the latest installment of the JAX Chamber's "Industry Week" tour series. Daniel Davis, chamber CEO, was guided through the operation by Sally Corp. Chairman and CEO John Wood.
Davis saw some of the company's early designs as well as some
that are still on the drawing board.
Wood said the original product line was limited to animated mechanical characters for retail displays in department store windows. When the department stores started moving to suburban malls, display windows went out of style, so Sally had to adapt.
"It was about the time that Chuck E. Cheese's started out in California. Pretty soon, anybody who could buy some video games and make pizza was looking for an animated show," Wood said.
When The Walt Disney Co. introduced "dark rides" such as "It's a Small World" and "Pirates of the Caribbean," Sally evolved again and began developing similar products.
Eventually, the company rebranded and trademarked itself as "The Great American Dark Ride Co." More than 70 percent of the company's sales are to international clients, including museums, theme parks and other attractions in Europe and Asia, Wood said.
Sally Corp. moved to LaVilla from Riverside in 1997 during former Mayor Ed Austin's "River City Renaissance," Wood said.
Tours are offered hourly 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday. For more information, visit sallycorp.com.