Name: Pete Carlson
Organization Name: Schwan Super Rink
Address: 1700 105th Avenue NE
City: Blaine State: MN Zip: 55449
Phone #: 763-717-3881
Tell us how you got into the industry?
I am a Physical Education teacher by trade. I worked at ice rinks while going to college. As I was looking for a teaching job in Madison WI, I happened across a new ice arena being built in Verona WI. I asked someone if they needed any drivers. They said they need a manager. I thought about it and said yes to the job. That was in 1994 and I am still in the arena business today.
How many years have you been in the ice arena industry?
In 1988 I started working for Heartland Hockey Camps as a head hockey instructor. I also learned how to drive the Zamboni at Heartland. Officially 30 years in the business.
What type of Ice Resurfacer does your facility operate?
The Super Rink has six 552 Electric Zamboni’s and two 545 propane Zamboni’s.
What type of Ice Edger does your facility operate?
Four corded electric Zamboni edger’s and two non-cord electric edger’s.
What is the size of your ice sheet?
The Schwan Super Rink has eight sheets of ice. Four 200′ x 100′ and Four 200′ x 85′ sheets of ice.
What type of floor do you have in your facility? (Sand/Cement/Other)
The four 200′ x 100′ sheets are sand and the four 200′ x 85′ sheets are concrete.
What is the best part about working in an ice arena?
There are several great things about working in an ice arena. Being around the game of hockey, free tickets to high school games, and seeing kids start as mites and end as high schooler’s. I think the best part is working in a place that has several different customers and programs throughout the year.
Using one word, name one thing you love about working at a rink?
Nobody’s perfect in this industry. Tell us your worst experience at a rink so far?
There have been a few, but the one that still stands out is when we froze our chiller barrel. For some reason the sensor malfunctioned and our chiller barrel froze solid for two weeks. We were lucky it was late January and we opened the outside doors to all four sheets and had natural ice for two weeks. The chiller barrel did thaw out with no damage and we were back in business. Those were two weeks of sleepless nights.
What are the first three things you do when you get to the rink each day?
1. Turn on computer 2. Say hello to colleagues 3. Jump into emails.
How do you feel ongoing professional development is helping you and your career?
The ability to reach out to our professional organizations is so helpful. MIAMA, WIAMA, US Ice Rinks Association, and ISI continue to assist arena operators in so many ways. It has helped me tremendously.
How would you explain to the average hockey parent how the ice resurfacer works to resurface the ice? First it takes a special set of skills to drive such a machine. Several things going on at once and drivers must be completely focused at all times while driving. After that I would keep it simple and say there is a blade that shaves ice away, hot water to melt and make smooth ice, and an auger system to bring snow up to the dump tank.
Career highlight or accomplishment you are most proud of?
I have been fortunate to work with great people and great events the past 30 years. Multiple events such as IIHF Women’s World Championships, ISI World Figure Skating Championships, World Broomball Championships, USA National Short Track Speed Skating Championships, Schwan Cup High School Hockey Tournaments, and the Walleye Chop Adult Hockey Tournaments are just a few. Two events that standout that I worked very close with was the USA Hockey Disabled Festival and the Hendrickson Disabled Hockey Festival. These two events are so fun to be around and bring the game to another group of deserving people.
I am proud to have helped move Super Rink colleagues on in the industry. There have been nine Super Rink managers under my direction that are now running their own building as the top guy.
Lastly the ability to program and schedule over 19,000 hours of ice each year continues to be an accomplishment. It is a team effort by some great people to make this happen year after year.
Advice for making it in the sports industry or for someone wanting to be a Zamboni driver?
Just say “Yes”. Everything that has helped me move forward in my career has happened because I said yes to it.
Who would you like to acknowledge for helping (mentoring) you along the way?
Tom Kuklinski was my high school hockey coach. If I would have listened to him right away I would have been better off. It took me a few years after graduation until I realized what he was trying to do for me. Steve Jensen gave me my first chance to work in the ice rink business. He leads by example and he continues to run a unique and successful business by working hard. Paul Erickson hired me at the NSC and I have learned so much from him. I have been by his side learning how to start projects, programs, and lead teams. The most important advice he shared with me was for me to remember we are in the people business first. When you take care of people, all other aspects fall into place. Lastly my parents…both my parents gave me everything I needed to be successful. They didn’t give me everything I wanted. Again, they gave me everything I needed. Sometimes that was not much at all and I had to work for it. I hope to do the same for my children.
What certifications have you attained within the industry? (STAR classes, ISI classes, etc)
CRA-Certified Rink Administrator
What is the best tip you have learned from any of the classes offered through MIAMA?
The best tip is first to attend the classes. I love to see the young people mixing in with the veterans. There are so many good things that happen in class and out of class at MIAMA events.