A Change in Leadership
Primero Games is now helmed by a new owner.
By Alexandra McCray
Industry legend Mike Macke bought the COAM manufacturer from Kelly Macke, at the end of 2020. The leadership transition points to a pivotal new direction for the company.
Macke's 40 years of experience include becoming one for the largest operators in the southeast and extensive knowledge of game design and production. His roots in the industry date back to 1980, when the first company he was involved in created the hit counter top bar game, Little Casino. Revolutionary concepts such as that would become Macke's trademark.
From founding Cadillac Jack, a former manufacturer that transformed Class II gaming and thrived in the Mexican market to inventing the "nudge," Macke's contributions have consistently driven the amusement business forward. He is even familiar with redesigning game cabinets to improve the experience for the player and/or the operator for service. And Macke is eager to use his unique insight across various areas of the industry to guide
Primero into the future. "One of the exciting things about me getting back involved in the company is that now I can step forward and put the same influence on game design and changes that need to be made that I did a long time ago," he says.
"There is data now that tells us the behavior of the game. We can identify what kind
of player someone is and how they play," Macke explains. He adds that understanding
those features allows the professionals at Primero to design games that fit the player experience.
The company already has multiple new products it plans to roll out soon in Georgia. Among them is the manufacturer's introduction of the ticket-in. ticket-out (TITO) feature to the state. Primero also plans to release new pull-tab content for different markets. "Some of the new projects we are releasing provide new interactive and entertaining experiences for the players. I'm ready for a game changer and I think I've got a couple," says Macke. Additionally, Macke's vision is to take his innovative approach to game design and his unmatched understanding of player habits back into Class II and Class Ill markets.
Throughout his career, Macke has also been heavily involved with legislation and played an integral role in helping to get the law passed that opened the doors for the machines used today that qualify as Class B to enter the Georgia market.
He notes that a deep understanding of the Georgia gaming sector has been integral
to his 25 years of success in the state. Knowing the nuances of the market and the players in it is something Macke says sets him and Primero apart and is something that the company will continue to utilize.
Outside of groundbreaking launches, one of Macke's intentions for Primero is growth through acquisitions. Heftier investments in research and development will be a priority for the business as well. Macke's current and continued focus, however, is on connecting with customers and ensuring that the company's tagline of "Trust & Value" is at the center of all
that it does.
The owner has a truly open-door policy and invites customers to share their needs and feedback with him. Understanding what it is like to be both an operator and a manufacturer. Macke knows a steady flow of communication between the two is needed for both parties to prosper. He and his team emphasize that the company's ultimate goal is to create products that genuinely fit a need and bring added value. Customer interaction is not only appreciated and important to them but is desired.
Macke believes his presence and supervision will further instill confidence in the Primero brand. Now and in the future. customers can expect a spirit of flexibility and the forward-thinking attitude he is known for.
In a sense, Primero has been primed for this transition as new executives with notable backgrounds in the gaming industry have been brought on board within the past two years. Additions to the company include Chief Executive Officer, Greg Gronau; Chief Technology Officer, Jared Torres; and National Sales & Marketing Manager, Michael "Smitty" Smith. Most of the new leaders have worked with Macke in one way or another at some point in time. As the former CEO of Cadillac Jack, Gronau spent three years with Macke. Together, they grew
the company from roughly $20 million in profits to $80 million. They plan to do the same with Primero Games.
Acquiring the company is not all that is new for Macke. Outside of being a gaming industry innovator. longtime beekeeper and trout farm owner, he has also become a high-profile philanthropist Macke has upheld his family's multigenerational tradition of supporting the
Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia. His gift of $750,000 in late 2019 was not only Macke's most generous but is also the largest donation the museum has ever received from an individual "It's just something I've always wanted to do. My family was involved in that museum a long time ago," says Macke. As a gesture of gratitude, the museum's Great Hall is now named the "Michael Mayo Macke Great Hail" Moving forward, Macke plans to increase his charitable efforts to give back to the community and the amusement industry as
[Photo by Sarah Uhn]