Scott Gill can take you to Atlantis. He can transport you to the 1600s, when Jamestown was still a settlement. He can make you think you’re on the coasts of Chile and Peru. It’s his job, after all.
Gill is the president and founder of Themeworks, Inc., based in High Springs, Fla. It’s a company that creates environments for places that amaze, entertain and educate their guests.
Its clients include SeaWorld of Orlando and San Diego, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. The environment you see while waiting in line at a theme park ride, the exhibits at museums, the sculptures and art pieces you see when you enter such establishments — these are the kinds of things that Themeworks creates.
It all started with a vision that Gill had when he was 26 years old. He was driven by what he calls “youthful naivety and ignorance.”
“The nice thing about doing it when I did was that I didn’t have a lot to lose at the time,” he said. “I had a passion to be in this industry and remain in the industry and hopefully become somebody who was respected in the industry.”
He had a business philosophy in mind, which his employer at the time did not utilize. He wanted to invest in his clients and his coworkers. He wanted to do whatever it took to satisfy them — even if it meant making sacrifices. He wanted a business that held itself to higher standards and did its best to never disappoint customers.
The company that started in Gill’s apartment now employs 50 people. Its “office” space spans 54,000 square feet in area, making even its 6-foot-7 president look tiny.
“With hard work, sometimes a little bit of luck and some very excellent people that have worked here over the years, we’ve been able to have the success that we have,” Gill said.
Despite the growth of Themeworks, Gill still remains true to his original philosophy. He has a strong commitment to his clients and employees. And no matter how large the project, he focuses on small details and accuracy.
While working on the National Museum of the Marine Corps, he and his team created realistic and accurate World War II dioramas.
The bullet holes in the palm trees were created from molds, which were made when the team took an M3 rifle and shot bullets through palm trees that would have been there at the time. The Tootsie Roll wrapper in the display was a special reprint of the 1950 wrapper, which the company agreed to run just for Themeworks. Gill said the amount of research that goes into what they do is unimaginable.
Themeworks is continuing to expand as it increases its technical capabilities, but Gill considers himself lucky for other reasons.
“I was always one of those kids who didn’t know what he wanted to do when I grew up … but this was the first thing I saw that really grabbed me,” he said. “In this industry, you’re always doing something fun. You always have different challenges. It’s very rewarding in that way, and I’m very fortunate to find it and have it remain my passion.”