Commitment to customers and to innovation are keys to family-owned AC Coin & Slot’s success, founder says

When Paul Tjoumakaris first met AC Coin & Slot Co. founder Mac Seelig, neither was in the gaming business.

Seelig owned and operated Globe Vending, a vending machine business that his wife, Kay, still operates today, and Tjoumakaris owned a restaurant. “My first encounter with Mac was way before gaming. He put cigarette machines in my lobby,” Tjoumakaris said.

A fire later destroyed Tjoumakaris’ restaurant, and he joined Caesars, one of the new casinos in the fledging Atlantic City, N.J., casino market. “At that time there were only two [gaming] machines available – the Jennings and the Bally electromagnetic. He [Mac] had the Jennings game [as a distributor].”

Over the years, Tjoumakaris has found much to admire about the way Seelig has operated AC Coin & Slot Co., which is in the midst of celebrating its 30th year in business.

“He made it happen because of his work ethic and sales ethic. He made it because of who he is,” said Tjoumakaris, who is vice president of gaming operations, for the Seminole tribe in Florida. “He has earned everything he’s sold.”

Seelig and AC Coin have gone above and beyond expectations on many occasions, Tjoumakaris said. The most recent example is the opening of the Borgata hotel-casino, where Tjoumakaris was vice president of slot operations.

Right before the casino-hotel opened, Tjoumakaris had a warehouse set up, and Seelig provided forklifts and manpower to help set up shelving and move in slot equipment. “He literally provided all that with no cost,” Tjoumakaris said. And when Borgata required specific expertise in creating a ergonomic slot base and seating, Seelig and AC Coin came through again.

If you get something from Mac, it’s not a cookie cutter,” Tjoumakaris said. “With Mac, he will create that look for you.”

He noted that AC Coin and the Borgata spent three months ensuring that  everything was just right from the footrest to the chair seat.

“A lot of people don’t realize what it takes [for someone] to sit for three four hours. We developed something good and Mac was the guy,” he said,

But Seelig is not all business, Tjoumakaris noted.

“He’s all about giving back to the community. His wife and he, they put a lot of time into the community,” Tjoumakaris said. “Whenever there was something to promote in Atlantic City , he would be right behind it.”

Relationships with customers such as Toumakaris have helped AC Coin get where it is today. “If you have good relationships, good products and good service, that takes you a long way,” said Seelig, who ran the company out of its home for the first couple of years.

He further describes his company’s core values as “responsiveness to our customers’ needs, commitment to innovation and dedication to strengthening the communities in which we operate.”

For Seelig, the customer is king.

“In 30 years, I can never remember one customer calling and saying, ‘You really let me down,’” said Seelig.

Seelig, who is president of AC Coin, said he has strived to instill the values of “honesty and doing the very best for your customer” in his three sons, Jerry, Jeff and Jason, who all have key roles with the company.

When something doesn’t go exactly as planned, AC Coin goes the extra mile to make sure it’s corrected. “You gain the trust of the customer when something goes wrong,” he said.

Seelig said he is extremely proud of the hard work and loyalty of the employees at AC Coin, which is the largest slot manufacturer/distributor and diversified casino supply company on the East Coast.

Today, Seelig’s AC Coin & Slot operates some 3,000 proprietary slot machines in casinos in North America and the Caribbean. As a distributor, the company has installed hundreds of thousands of other machines made by Reno-based International Game Technology.

In addition to its proprietary bonusing slot machines and community games, AC Coin creates custom interior signage, sculpted displays, ergonomic seating and slot bases, all of which can be combined to form custom-themed slot environments.

 The company holds more than 180 gaming licenses in all major gaming jurisdictions in North America and the Caribbean and all Canadian provinces.

As a smaller company, Pleasantville, N.J.-based AC Coin has the advantage of being able to turn very fast to adapt to a customer’s needs. Seelig said.  “We really listen to our customers. We spend a lot of time with them,” he said. And that’s just good business, Seelig said. 

Of signs and satisfaction

Glen Sawhill, vice president of gaming operations, Caesars Windsor, recalled working closely with AC Coin on custom projects at Casino Windsor, before it was rebranded as Caesars Windsor.

“Our philosophy and vision – what we were trying to do –  really came together” through custom signage and environments developed by AC Coin, Sawhill said. “We were really trying to create environments within our gaming floor.”

These were particularly important given the multilevel nature of the property, and the need to guide players to different areas, he said. “Signage has great value on the slot floor, educating and communicating. But you just don’t get it for nice to have – we were able to drive revenue with this custom signage and bank signage,” Sawhill said.

Among the projects was the elaborately themed Nickel Mine, which drew players to the nickel slot machines that, at the time, Sawhill said, were “our bread and butter.”

Others included the Poker City video poker area, Blues Street and the Land of the Giants, an area that featured six oversized mini Bertha machines.

The environments helped increase play and also gave the casino marketing tools for bringing in business, he noted. “We brought a lot of life to our floor and a lot of dimension to our floor. Our customers were very receptive to it as well. They loved it,” Sawhill said.

Working with AC Coin also proved to be a rewarding experience, Sawhill said.“We were involved with a lot of their artists, sat down with them and really developed it together. It was a great process, a rewarding process for everyone involved,” he said. “This wasn’t any cookie cutter stuff that you’ll find. This was really custom.”

AC Coin’s service orientation is one of the company’s strongest suits, Sawhill said. “I always felt it was a company that had depth, and there wasn’t anybody in the company I couldn’t talk to. I could pick up the phone and talk to anyone, whether it was one of their artists, one of their sign makers on up to Mac or Jason. “They developed a very strong product line, very good quality, and they backed it up.”

Game on

AC Coin’s proprietary games are offered to casinos on a lease basis. That keeps the company on its toes, creating great games. “If we don’t make great games, we’re in trouble. That’s the challenge – good games make and mediocre games do not,” Mac Seelig said.

One who understands that well is Jerry Seelig, who has taken the reins of game development for the company.

 “It’s our job to do whatever we can to help the casinos bring back customers. They want high-earning product,” Jerry Seelig said.

As the economy has changed, Seelig said the company has stepped up its efforts to create even better product for casinos.

“The challenge in any business is how you create more and more value for your customer, particularly in this environment,” Jerry Seelig said. “We’ve really looked at our pay tables to get the win per unit as high as possible.”

Asked to select his favorite game he’s designed, he quickly replied, “the next one.”

“As a game creator, you’re always looking for the next one. You can’t admire your work for too long,” Jerry Seelig said.

Over the years, AC Coin has created some game-changing products. One of its earliest games, Bonus Road Rally from the 1990s, was a precursor to today’s community-style games. And its Slotto products – which marry a lottery ball drop-style bonus with a slot machine – have proven highly successful in the marketplace.

That game came about while Jerry Seelig was watching television, waiting for “Wheel of Fortune” to come on so he could look for clues to why the game is so successful as a slot.

The lottery drawing came on first, and that’s when the “A-ha” moment came. “I thought, ‘Wow, that would be cool if we could make that into a slot machine.”

More recently, the company has found success with its community-style games, including Super Bankroll Bonus.

Jerry Seelig picks “integrity” when asked the one word he’d use to describe the company’s value. “My dad said it helps you go to sleep knowing that you’ve done everything you could to make your customer happy, and that’s what he taught me.”

Chris Strano, vice president of sales and marketing, said AC Coin’s workplace culture is driven by creativity and focus.

“Everybody inside the business focuses in one direction  – to get the job done. We have stressful days. There’s always something going on, but I can tell you we have fun.”

“And it’s a fun industry to be in. Our customers are fun,” Jerry Seelig added.

He noted the company has had success with both its video and mechanical slot product.

“I don’t think there’s a secret formula. Every game is always different and just a little off the wall. It really comes back to what that player is looking for,” he said. “What we’ve learned is that while times change, the players don’t. They want the suspense, they want the drama, they want to be entertained.”

Getting more great product out into the market is a key goal for the company going forward, CFO Jeffrey Seelig said in a recent company release.

 “Our growth has been explosive as the result of slot machine innovations; expansion throughout North America and the Caribbean; and diversification into complementary product lines,” he said. “We are excited to embark on our bold new initiative of introducing more revenue-earning games to our customers than ever before in our company’s history.”

Family patriarch Mac Seelig said the company continues to evolve and diversify. “We have customers pushing us to go to the next level – whatever is the future, not just what’s out there now,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got very bright people,” and as the paradigms shift, so will AC Coin.

Having a family business is a great motivator, Seelig said.

 “You really care a lot about keeping the customer happy. It’s your name, and your effort  – it’s a little different than a public company.”

He said he has relished what he calls “a tremendous opportunity to learn this business and learn it from the bottom up.”

“It’s been a lot of fun watching the company grow over 30 years, and watching my sons take leadership roles, Would I do anything different? I don’t think so.”