Challenge: Geographical Distance & The Evolution of the FEC

Being in Hawaii required Fun Factory to run independently. “We do everything. We buy the merchandise, the games, and the food. Because we are out here on this island, we are very self-sufficient,” shares Fernandez. “When you live in the middle of the ocean, nothing is close. Hawaii is the most remote set of islands in the world. It’s 2,700 miles from anywhere.“

Manual processes and systems were in place, too. When they started in the 1990s, there were a lot of operational hurdles that included time-consuming manual tasks and cumbersome ways of working. “We had the first-generation landline system. We specifically built the location with that in mind, cut the concrete, and ran the landline cable through all the games,” describes Warren Asing, EVP of Operations.

“The first-generation server rack was refrigerator-sized. The wiring was like a spider web from floor to ceiling. Anytime there was a failure, we had to go through all the wires to figure out what was disconnected. It was challenging,” illustrates Stephen Lau, Chief Finance Officer.

Linda Fernandez chanced an elevator meeting with an Australian FEC owner 35 years ago (Malcolm & Adam Steinberg, Founder & Owners of Embed), sparked a friendship, and started what would become a long-time partnership. “We were all in the same business, shared information, and became fast friends,” she shares.

These Australian friends eventually informed Linda and her team about a harness system he developed for his games. During this time, Fun Factory already developed into an arcade business. “We went deeply into the coin-op games,” explained Linda.

As FECs were fast influenced by rising technology over the years, along with the golden age of arcades, Fun Factory knew that it needed to keep up with the times. In 2000, they decided to commence their search for a cashless management system. With challenges in their geographical location, Fun Factory was looking for a provider with solid support and a reliable system.

Solution: Making History with Embed's Cashless System in a Continuous Partnership & Evolution


At the time of the search, there were only a handful of solutions providers offering cashless business systems. “We did a three-year search before choosing a partner. That search took in eight other people - whoever was in the card business at the time,” accounts Asing.

“At the time, card operators were not big companies, so the reliability and support were critical for us,” chimes Lau. “We are in Hawaii, in the middle of the ocean. We needed to make sure that when we call, someone answers the phone.”

“A lot of them didn’t have an operation. They had a system, but they weren’t in the business,” Fernandez adds. “We listed them all out, their pluses and minuses from left to right and we chose Embed,” says Asing. “Embed was in the business. We knew that since they were also using the system, they most probably encounter the same problems we did, and they would know what to do,” he continues.

The history between Embed and Fun Factory goes so far back that Fun Factory can be considered Embed’s first customer in North America. Because Embed has both operations and system, Fun Factory was able to visit and see for themselves what was being offered. “We couldn’t do that with others because they didn’t have anything that we can go to and see,” explains Fernandez.

Fun Factory Color Logo - True Red 2022-1








Client: Fun Factory


In 1903, E.K. Fernandez started EK Fernandez Shows, which quickly became a popular circus and carnival in Hawaii. Three generations later, Linda Fernandez has evolved her grandfather’s legacy into an indoor FEC called Fun Factory with 20 locations throughout the United States.

“E.K. was in the circus business. He would put the circus on a big ship. In the 1900s, he would go to Hong Kong, China, the Philippines, and Malaysia, and take the circus on a ship. I can’t imagine how hard that had to be in the 1920s. It truly is a fascinating story,” details Linda Fernandez, CEO & Owner of Fun Factory.

In the 1940s, E.K. started adding amusements to the circus, which continued for 50 more years. The business has continued to adapt with the economy. “The last circus we did was in the 1990s. Whatever became too tough, we would change it and evolve. We needed an indoor attraction so we would still be in business when it rained,” reasons Fernandez.

Fun Factory officially became an indoor carnival in 1977, complete with carnival games and rides. “The indoor carnival games, the indoor rides, the features, and decor are what started Fun Factory. The coin-op games were a part of it, but they were not the reason.” Their success allowed them to open locations on all the Hawaiian Islands, followed by the mainland.

The Fernandez family has a huge footprint on the industry: Linda with Fun Factory, her daughter Shelley with BMI Merchandising, son Scott with shows, events, and concessions, and Sydney, who works directly with Linda. When each of the 3 kids were 12, they had their own game at the carnival. “They oversaw hiring, and they had to buy their teddy bears from me. That was important; they had to run their staff, hire, let go, and make their game work.” They paid Linda rent and all their own costs, but “the profit that they made in the end was theirs,” claims Fernandez.

Today, all Fun Factory locations are themed: Fun Factory as the indoor carnival, then there’s also Jungle Fun and Rock N’ Fun. Fernandez explains: “The content has many of the same flavors, but it’s the presentation that makes each location unique.”