Faith, Attitude, Consistency and Excellence are what make FACE a different kind of amusement group.
BEING CONFIDENT IN ONE ANOTHER
We are believers, committed to service and being a source of inspiration and fellowship for our guests and our co-workers. Good faith in our process and our people is a cornerstone we believe sets us apart, making each touchpoint of interaction something meaningful.
RESPONDING POSITIVELY, REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCE
We strive to be uplifting in every interaction with our guests and each other, offering encouragement and can-do response at every turn. We believe the right attitude sets the tone for all the things you put out into the world, its an active perspective that we strive to keep in our work.
DOING WHAT IS EXPECTED, EVERY DAY
We are guided by conscience, committed to doing the right thing by keeping promises and supporting others without fail. Our experience has always been that consistency breeds trust, and trust breeds fulfilling experiences for ourselves and for our customers.
PURSUING MY PERSONAL BEST
We give it our all every day, with each of us striving to be the best team member, fun-maker and person we can be. Excellence is earned through hard work and forged by a dedication to our people, our standards, and to every customer experience.
Just a Few of the Faces that make up FACE
In 1978 Coach Clarence Mabe of Gray, Tennessee, noticed that his student-athletes were becoming fascinated with an exciting new phenomenon – video games. Clarence saw an opportunity and purchased his first video game system, Space Invaders, and placed it in a friend’s convenience store.
Shortly after buying Space Invaders Clarence purchased a Skee-Ball machine to add to his collection and S&M Amusements was born. Clarence became a pioneer of claw cranes, being only the second person in the United States to own one of the machines. One claw crane quickly became one hundred, and Clarence quickly grew S&M Amusements into one of the largest crane machine route businesses in the country.
In 1987 Clarence bought Rockin’ Raceway, his first family entertainment center (FEC). It was at Rockin’ Raceway that Clarence laid the foundation for the values that continue throughout FACE today: Faith, Attitude, Consistency, and Excellence. In 2013 Clarence’s two younger sons, Bucky and Rusty, joined forces with their father and Mark Larkey to create FACE Amusement.
S&M Amusement continues today as a route business while FACE Amusement continues to grow by leaps and bounds with new boutique arcades and attractions across the county. Clarence continues to direct the routes business and offers assistance and support to the FEC side of FACE Amusement. Ever the innovator, Clarence has created his own arcade games over the years, such as Toss ‘Em, Alley Cat, and Basket Fever.
Clarence believes in giving back to those less fortunate and has made doing so an important priority for FACE. The FACE Bear Hugs program was born from that generosity, as well as the annual STAR Christmas event. Clarence personally participates in a number of charities and organizations that give back to the community and support the youth.
When not working, Clarence is an avid tennis player and philanthropist. He loves cheering on the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers with his wife, Cookie, and their large group of lifelong friends. His greatest joy in life comes from his grandchildren, whom he continues to coach and teach into becoming the next generation of FACE Amusement leaders.
Born and raised in Gray – a suburb of Johnson City, Tennessee – Bucky grew up in a fun family environment. He was taught at a young age by his father, Coach Clarence Mabe, to be a risk-taker and inherited his entrepreneurial spirit. Coach Mabe offered Bucky his first job at $10.00 an hour; but, Bucky turned down the offer. Instead, Bucky started his own business mowing lawns and quickly discovered he loved – like his father – working for himself.
Once he saw he had the ability to turn a profit on his own, Bucky’s visionary abilities began when he was a junior in high school. Bucky and his business partner, Mark, started a games route business named B&M. When not in school, Bucky and Mark managed the routes located in grocery, convenience stores, and truck stops. Their routes extended from Tennessee to Western Kentucky, and Missouri to Florida.
In 2001, Bucky graduated from East Tennessee State University with a major in Finance and he and Mark hit the ground running with the ideas and vision that Bucky had been dreaming of. He and Mark paired up with Coach Mabe and they formed S&M Amusements. Bucky had the vision to not only provide the games but to operate them as well. He recognized there was more than just entering a video arcade and playing a video game. The opportunity existed to create lasting memories. In 2005, his love of the games and family came together with their first owned and operated Video Arcade, Rockin’ Raceway in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. With this opening, Bucky and Mark dedicated their time to learn operations with the vision of becoming a family entertainment center where all ages can have a FUN experience. The company has since expanded into Florida and Missouri.
With the evolution of business and technology, Bucky had a vision for taking the company to the next level. They rebranded to FACE (Faith, Attitude, Consistency, and Excellence). Not only are these the core values they deliver to each guest; but, what they look for in each employee, as well. Bucky is diligent and focused on delivering the best experience for all of their guests which is why he believes in the brand promise – FUN guaranteed.
Bucky and his wife, Sarah, have three sons and are very involved with games, sports, and the community.
Playing Division I basketball at East Tennessee State University taught Mark important lessons early on in life: you need teamwork and strong leadership to win the game. It’s the same philosophy and gamesmanship he instills in the team at FACE. Mark focuses on the construction and real estate development side of FACE Amusement and has been instrumental in helping FACE grow to the company it is today and is destined to become through their extensive growth plans.
Mark attended East Tennessee State University on a basketball scholarship majoring in Education and received his Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision. After graduation, Mark taught at his local high school, and then served as the Assistant Principal and Director of Athletics at Daniel Boone High School in Gray, Tennessee.
One of Mark’s proudest accomplishments was serving as a County Commissioner for 12 years. While serving the community as Commissioner, he offered his expertise in Budget/Finance Planning, overseeing a $120M budget, Commission Economic Development, and Public Works Committee. His goal was to make sure the road of progress and service towards the community would help future men and women have the same opportunities he was afforded while growing up in Washington County. “You have to have people who care to look out for the next generation,” says Mark. He is proud of the capital projects that were developed and launched during the time he served. Some of the greatest accomplishments were a very progressive approach to reinvesting in the county when they built three new schools, renovated two high schools, built a state-of-the-art Justice Center and invested significant dollars to maintaining the existing infrastructure throughout the county.
Growing up in the same area, Mark and the Mabe family had known each other their entire lives. Mark and Bucky formed a relationship while he was teaching. Mark’s expertise in Real Estate Development has allowed FACE to successfully expand into multiple states and he is excited about the new growth they have laid out for the future. In addition to family entertainment centers, Mark and Bucky have worked together on other real estate development projects – both commercial and residential.
Mark and his wife of 23 years, Christy, have two beautiful daughters. When not playing games at FACE, Mark, being the avid sports fan, enjoys watching college basketball and football.
Rusty Mabe is a native of Gray, Tennessee, and a graduate of East Tennessee State University. Like his father Coach Mabe, Rusty has an eye for the little details that elevate an experience from great to “Whoa!”
Rusty is an entrepreneur in his own right, having operated a mobile DJ business for many years. Rusty’s greatest passion in life is bringing people together and creating fun experiences, so you might say he’s the perfect man for the job when it comes to planning how FACE creates fun experiences for our guests.
Rusty is an early adopter of all things technology and keeps everyone at the FACE Support Center up to date with the latest and greatest technology advancements. Rusty coordinates FACE’s research and development efforts and is constantly on the lookout for the next big thing. Rusty serves as a liaison for our many product vendors and helps coordinate rollout of new attractions with a customer-centric approach that puts the guest at the center of the experience.
When not working, Rusty enjoys spending time with his Wife Katie and their two children. Rusty enjoys traveling when he’s not cheering for his Alma Mater, the East Tennessee State University Buccaneers.
Deb Christensen, Head of HR at Face Amusement, boasts a wealth of experience as an HR professional with an extensive background in all aspects of HR and Mergers and Acquisitions. Over the past two years, she has played an instrumental role in the growth and success of the company. Throughout her career, Deb has worked for companies of all sizes, starting in marketing at BCBS and transitioning to HR, where she held various roles at Starter Sports Apparel, Ann Taylor, MacDermid, and USFoods Knoxville.
Deb’s expertise in HR and M&A has earned her a reputation as a trusted and strategic advisor to leadership teams. Her ability to navigate complex organizational structures and drive meaningful change has resulted in successful outcomes for both the companies she has worked for and the employees she has supported. Alongside her professional accomplishments, Deb holds a BA in Business and Economics with a minor in Psychology from Albertus Magnus College.
In her personal life, Deb is passionate about travel, sports, and giving back to her community. Her favorite travel destination is the Grand Cayman Islands, and she is an avid fan of the University of Tennessee Football and Basketball teams. Deb also spends time attending her grandchildren’s sports events and volunteers for organizations such as the Red Cross. Furthermore, she has worked on relief and recovery efforts during the Gatlinburg fire in 2016 and serves on the board of Madison’s Meadows HOA. Married to Gary with four children and five grandchildren, Deb is a remarkable asset to the FACE Amusement team, and we are fortunate to have her.
Matt Wilhjelm is a driven and inspiring professional whose passion and commitment to excellence has helped FACE advance time and time again. Not only does Matt bring extensive knowledge of finance and accounting to FACE, but he is also a former Quarterback for the ETSU Buccaneers, demonstrating his willingness to take risks and strive for success. His business acumen and know-how has permitted FACE to reach new heights, as evidenced by the many large projects he has been involved in. Moreover, Matt is an individual of great personal drive and dedication, always looking to inspire his colleagues.
Outside of the office, Matt and his wife Karen are blessed with six children. In his free time, Matt is an active member of his Church, and provides color commentary for the ETSU Buccaneers. He has also served his community for the past 20 years, engaging in youth ministry, Scouts, mentoring, and coaching.
Above all, Matt is committed to his family, community, and faith. We are proud to have him on our team and look forward to seeing how he continues to push himself, both in and out of the office.
Alex Anderson, a dedicated and highly skilled professional, has been an instrumental force behind the success of FACE for several years. With an extensive background in finance, Alex joined the organization at a crucial time, utilizing his expertise to rebuild and restructure the accounting and finance team in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. His leadership and strategic thinking helped stabilize the company during a period of uncertainty, laying the groundwork for future growth and expansion. Since joining FACE, Alex has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the company’s vision, consistently going above and beyond to ensure its continued success.
After successfully revamping the financial side of the business, Alex transitioned to the operations department, where he now oversees food and beverage locations, including the popular Downtown Flavortown. His keen eye for detail, coupled with his extensive experience, has driven significant growth and success for these establishments. Alex’s innovative approach to operations management has not only helped streamline processes, but also enhance the overall customer experience. As he continues to apply his expertise and passion for the industry, there is no doubt that Alex will lead FACE’s food and beverage locations to even greater heights in the future.
Jeremy Tipton, a Gray, TN native, has spent his entire life in the area. After graduating from Daniel Boone High School, he attended East Tennessee State University, where he developed a deep love for the ETSU Buccaneers. Tipton started his career at FACE Amusement as a warehouse worker, but he quickly moved up the ranks. While in college, he had his own route, and after graduation, he became the purchaser for FACE Amusement’s route operations. Tipton then became the Route Manager, responsible for all of the routes.
As FACE Amusement grew, Tipton was promoted to Amusement Director, where he oversaw all of the company’s locations in Pigeon Forge, Orlando, and Branson until 2020. In that year, Tipton’s role evolved into the Director of Operations for Games, Merchandise, and IT Department. His journey at FACE Amusement has been a remarkable one, and he’s excited to see what the future holds.
Outside of work, Tipton’s hobbies include spending quality time with his family, playing golf (or trying to), watching sports of any kind, and cheering on his son as he plays various sports. Tipton is also a devoted Dallas Cowboys fan, despite knowing it may not be a popular choice. He has been married to his wife Clanci for over 10 years, and they have two children, Gatlin and Emersyn.
Gwen Mercado Rivera is the Amusement Director of Operations at FACE Amusement. Born and raised in Bronx, NY, Gwen was raised by her mother and grandmother and developed a strong sense of empathy and care for others while helping her grandpa at his bodega. She moved to Puerto Rico at age eight to take care of her ailing grandfather and learned to read Spanish by teaching herself with old textbooks. Gwen’s mother raised her and her two siblings with the help of her grandmother, who taught her how to cook Puerto Rican food, which is her favorite hobby.
Being a product of the public school system, Gwen did her best to stay busy and out of trouble by assisting with after-school sports activities where she did track and field and was part of the school volleyball team all the way through high school. Started working at a bakery at an early age to help her mom.
Determined to create a better future for herself and her three children Gwen worked at a hotel to put herself through college, where she studied Business at Interamerican University in Fajardo, Puerto Rico. After moving to Florida in 2005, Gwen worked in retail, starting at the entry-level and advancing to management roles at Kohl’s, Steve & Barry’s, VF Outlets, and Best Buy. She met her husband Eric Rivera while working at Best Buy and gained three bonus kids and now have two grandkids.
In 2015, Gwen joined FACE Amusement as a manager for their new arcade, Arcade City, and opened the first location outside of the PF market. During the pandemic, Gwen traveled to Tennessee to help set up the re- opening of the locations, and in September 2020, she was offered a promotion to Area Manager, which she accepted, relocating with her husband. Since December 2021, Gwen has been the Amusement Director of operations for the Myrtle Beach, Branson, and Pigeon Forge markets. She enjoys working with her team and seeing them develop and grow in a company she loves.
Gwen’s journey from humble beginnings to leading the operations of a successful amusement park company is a testament to her hard work and determination. She credits her upbringing with instilling in her a strong sense of empathy and care for others, which she carries with her in both her personal and professional life. Gwen’s dedication to her team and love for her work make her a valuable asset to FACE Amusement.