When Ian Manheimer, who owns and operates Bounce-N-Battle inflatable party rentals and VIP Photo Booth, talks about his business and his involvement in the community, he points out that it’s important to first talk about where he’s at now, how he got there and why he does what he does.
“I grew up without a dad, my mom was a single mom and she was very hardworking,” Manheimer, 44, said. “She was amazing, sometimes working two to three jobs just to keep a roof over our head. I, of course, got into all sorts of trouble as a kid – I got into drugs, alcohol, fighting, skipping school – really anything I could do to get into trouble.”
After continuing his streak of trouble for a while, Manheimer eventually entered into what was basically a rehab called the Starting Place Program. Through the program, he met a counselor who eventually said something to him that just happened to resonate with him.
“I went in with no intention of changing who I was or anything, but somewhere along the lines he said something to me that clicked,” Manheimer said. “I don’t remember what it was, but he said something. And I started changing – it was that simple.”
Manheimer entered into his freshman year of high school determined to change and make a difference. He started going to NA meetings and giving back to the community by getting involved with community service.
Going into college, Manheimer got a job working at the YMCA, working with all different types of students, from special education students to students with learning disabilities and more. He eventually decided to pursue the path of becoming a teacher.
“I really enjoy working with kids and my mental thought was, ‘somebody put the time and energy into helping me change, so I want to give back, and put the time and energy into somebody else,’” Manheimer said.
Manheimer’s specialty ended up being working with students with severe emotional behavioral disorders; basically kids like him who were getting into trouble. In 2000/2001, Manheimer, who was living in Florida at the time, ventured out to the Pacific Northwest area on vacation and fell in love with the area. During a trip to the Ocean Shores area, he made the decision to purchase an inflatable laser tag business that was for sale and ended up moving his family out to this area.
Manheimer worked a variety of jobs in order to build his business and eventually obtained his bachelor’s degree in education with a special education endorsement in 2005. He began teaching during the 2005-2006 school year, and sold his laser tag business in 2006. He then started on a small scale with his business, Bounce-N-Battle, building up the business while teaching.
In 2014/2015, Manheimer left teaching and has now been running Bounce-N-Battle full time for his fourth year. While he had been working to build up his business in the Clark County area, Manheimer became involved with a variety of nonprofit organizations, including one that is now very close to his heart – Rocksolid Community Teen Center.
“I started off donating some items (from Bounce-N-Battle) for them to use during their fundraisers,” Manheimer said. “Knowing what they do, working with these students, providing an opportunity for these kids to get off the street and have somewhere to go … I’ve been a huge supporter of them ever since. I’ve done some talks with the kids, I’ve done equipment donations or funds, or both. They are amazing people who do amazing things for the kids.”
Lori Lindberg, board adviser for the Rocksolid Community Teen Center Board of Directors, said Manheimer has been an excellent supporter and partner with the teen center.
“Ian is always attending or helping promote our events whether his company is involved or not,” Lindberg said. “He has helped us with great interactive games and memorable photos for teens at our events. Ian has taken the time to come out and talk to the teens about pursuing their dreams. He spoke about his experiences in life and business, and how working hard toward your goals is so important.”
“We greatly value the support from Ian through his business as well as personally,” Lindberg continued. “He has a heart for serving and making a difference in our communities, especially when it comes to our youth. He is one of our biggest fans.”
In addition to Rocksolid, Manheimer is also very involved with another local nonprofit, Share. He said that during his time as a teacher, he used to have his students make no-sew blankets, which they would then drop off at Share. Later on, Share started booking VIP Photo Booth for their events, including their annual Gala, as well as their holiday gatherings that are held for families that Share helps.
Other nonprofits that Manheimer has supported over the years include Northwest Battle Buddies, Habitat for Humanity, Northwest Indian Veteran Association, Relay for Life and more.
“Any organization that supports the community, it’s hard for me to say no,” Manheimer said.
Manheimer mostly supports these different organizations with in-kind donations from his business, like the use of equipment free of charge and sponsoring a photo booth for different events put on by the nonprofits.
On the business side of things, Manheimer said the business has shown steady growth every year, and saw about 20 percent growth last year. Currently, he said the business is already exceeding last year’s numbers and they are still climbing. Although they are coming close to the end of the season for Bounce-N-Battle, Manheimer said the busy months for VIP Photo Booth are typically October and December.
“I love doing what I do,” Manheimer said. “I love the fact that I get paid to make people smile.”