A one-industry man Andy Tipple has spent four decades working in the business. Starting as a part-time change desk attendant at a coastal arcade he has certainly earnt his stripes, working through the ranks to his current position as Managing Director of Blueprint Operations (BPO). In his first interview since taking the reins at the beginning of September Andy explains how he will be drawing on his operational experience in order to deliver operator-centric solutions for Blueprint’s 600+ accounts.
Can you begin by outlining your career with MERKUR and before that your broader involvement in the industry?
I started back in 1984 (nearly 40-years ago!) as a fresh-faced part-time change desk attendant in a traditional coastal arcade working for Triangle Amusements. In common with most part time positions in the industry mine soon became full time and that’s where my journey began. The key element that I took away from the coastal operation is that you need to put the hours in and maintain standards: those twin principles have stayed with me to this day.
I then joined Thomas Crisp Developments in 1992 (soon to be Thomas Estates) and worked through the business becoming Service Manager. However, the size of the Thomas operation meant I was also involved with sales, exhibitions and game development leaving the business with what I would describes as the ‘Thomas mentality’.
In 2006 I joined Praesepe as Electronic Gaming Manager and in September 2018 became Head of Product at Merkur Casino (now Merkur Slots) working closely with Sascha Blodau. Over this time, alongside one of the most experienced gaming machine teams in the industry, I completed the largest machine injection programme the business had ever undertaken
Five-years later (to the day) I accepted my current role as Blueprint Operations MD.
Blueprint Operations is widely regarded as having set new standards in the sector: with this in mind what changes are you planning to make?
Of course, I am happy with the current status of the company and the progress that’s been made. Every member of the BPO team is determined to be number 1 and most importantly determined to stay in the number 1 position. The Leadership Team are all highly professional individuals who are immersed in the industry and who know what it takes to be ‘best in class’. The concept is simple, it’s about providing a consistent pipeline of outstanding content housed in the industry’s very best and most contemporary cabinets. The advantage BPO has over its competitors is the ability to draw on the experience of our operational sister companies and that’s the area I will be squeezing most for knowledge, insight and feedback for the betterment of our growing customer-base of operators.
How are you preparing to implement the White Paper outcomes into the product offering for 2024?
Since the White paper was published at the end of April we have been deeply involved in scenario planning, working through the various possible outcomes and what they could mean for our customers. Having lived through significant key events in the industry I believe it is essential that no stone is left unturned regarding planning, testing and implementation. This is where our sister companies will provide invaluable feedback from their testing results.
Do you think the 50/50 ratio will encourage greater investment in Cat C and/or B3 games?
There will definitely be an uplift in machine investment across the industry. Manufacturers and operators will analyse the financial impact and from that point channel investment into what the most successful product is regardless of category.
In terms of their impact on venue income what do you think will be more significant 50/50 or the introduction of modern payment methods?
From a purely operational perspective and seen through the prism of the AGC and Bingo sectors, I would say that 50/50 will have a far greater immediate impact enabling the operator to manage his/her machine estate to accommodate the appropriate level of business. The introduction of modern payment methods will follow a slower evolution path but make no mistake they are absolutely critical to the future prosperity of the industry.