We associate this time of year with a magical workshop which makes neat things for people all around the world. But this isn’t the North Pole; it’s Station 5 Productions in Brookings. They make stuff for haunted attractions, haunted houses, escape rooms, and more.
“We do things for a lot of people, I mean we do things for, we’ve done things for cruise lines, we’ve done things for trade shows, we’ve done things for museums,” Station 5 Productions CEO Buck Burdick said.
Station 5 Productions launched around 10 years ago. Their reach is international.
“What I think is really cool is, we built a scientific lab cabinet, and we shipped it to Italy,” Burdick said. “And the guy said to me on the phone, and this happens all the time, ‘Where are you guys out of?’ South Dakota. ‘South Dakota?’ Yeah. ‘I hired a guy from South Dakota to build me an Egyptian tomb?’ Yes. Yep.”
A pretend bomb is going to Texas.
“This pulls out, and so now we could do something cool with that. It just, it looks interesting,” Burdick said. “So now if we add some cool lights to it, and really cool design and paint it, and maybe make some sound.”
The work all began with a local seasonal haunted attraction.
“It started with me building the Fear Asylum, and then meeting all the people in the industry, and then over the last decade, via social media and all my friends now around the country,” Burdick said.
“The big part of what I do is make things look like things you wouldn’t think it could be,” Bob Bosworth said.
Working with Burdick is Bosworth, whom everyone calls Boz.
“We think the same way,” Bosworth said. “So I’ll say something, and he’ll say something, and I’ll say something else, and then somebody else will say something on a different aspect of it, and then there we’ve got what we’re going to build.”
His business card describes him as an “Artistic Jedi.”
“I’m the worst person to go to the hardware store,” Bosworth said. “‘Cause they’re like, ‘What are you looking for?’ ‘Alright. Well, I need the wrong tool to make it for the right use of what I’m doing.’ And they’re like, ‘What?’ I’m like, ‘No, really.'”
Looking at a tube, you might just see a plain old tube. But with a little, or a lot, of imagination…
“It’s going to be a nuclear submarine for an escape room,” Burdick said. “This one I believe is going to North Carolina, and as they’re playing the game, every time they solve something, it will unlock one of these what we’re calling power cells.”
Dan Santella: Where do you guys get the creativity for this?
“It’s in here,” Bosworth said, pointing to his head. “I, it’s hard to explain. When I look at things and I know it has to work as something else, it just happens.”
Dan Santella: And now you’re sending stuff to Italy.
“Yes,” Burdick said. “We, yeah we actually got contacted to build a haunted house in Malaysia.”
Beside their ingenuity, another reason for their success might be their location.
“When you talk about South Dakota, we have gotten very, very, very large projects for one reason and one reason only,” Burdick said. “And I tell them on the phone, well, I’m a handshake guy from South Dakota, and that’s how we’re going to do it. And for people in corporate America, they’re not used to that.”
But it clearly works.
“Some of those Midwest values, I mean, I think it’s important,” Burdick said.
KELOAND News asked Burdick why he keeps doing this. After an “I don’t know” and a laugh, he gives an example.
“When Celebrity Cruise Lines calls you and say the first three concepts that didn’t work finally work and they need ten more of them, well you’ve been worked too hard to quit now,” Burdick said.