In the nick of time: Indiana insurance executive saves local drive-in theater

INGUARD CEO Parker Beauchamp and the Honeywell Foundation develop public/private partnership to revitalize local drive-in
(PR NewsChannel) / March 18, 2015 / WABASH, Ind. 
The marquee outside the 13-24 Drive-In in Wabash, Ind. invites children to create memories with their families and will continue to do so thanks to the support of Parker Beauchamp and the Honeywell Foundation.

The marquee outside the 13-24 Drive-In in Wabash, Ind. invites children to create memories with their families and will continue to do so thanks to the support of Parker Beauchamp and the Honeywell Foundation.

For more than 60 years, drive-in theaters have been synonymous with family entertainment. Since their peak in the 1950s and 1960s, the drive-in experience has resonated with Americans of all ages.

With the dawn of the digital age, drive-in theaters have been in steep decline due to the rising cost of ownership and the prevalence of massive corporate theater chains.

For Parker Beauchamp, CEO of INGUARD, that’s a trend he is hoping to stop.

“I have fond memories of my dad making skillet popcorn and putting it into a grocery bag, then sneaking out and watching a movie out of the back of our minivan with the hatch open,” said Beauchamp. “I think that every generation seems to have their own memories of going to a drive-in.”

It was those memories that inspired Parker Beauchamp to step in when his local drive-in theater, the 13-24 Drive-In, was in jeopardy.

Fearing that the Wabash, Ind. theater would be destroyed to make way for an industrial park expansion, Beauchamp teamed up with the Honeywell Foundation, another Indiana institution, to save the day.

“We were worried about it. I looked around town and said ‘We don’t have enough. We can’t lose that too,” said Beauchamp.

In a public/private partnership with the Honeywell Foundation, the Beauchamp family purchased the theater in 2011 while the foundation took responsibility for its operations.

It’s a partnership that has worked out great for the people of Wabash.

Since the group took over the 13-24 Drive-In, they’ve made significant renovations to the facilities, including a digital projector conversion, have introduced a number of promotions and have even incorporated “fair food” to enhance the atmosphere.

Arguably the group’s biggest accomplish was making sure the kids of Wabash were able to make their own memories as well.

“It’s hard to imagine that people might not be able to ever go to a movie with their families, but some simply cannot afford to,” said Beauchamp. “I think that those are special times spent with friends or families and everybody ought to have a right to that memory.”

With that sentiment in mind, Beauchamp stepped up again for his town… buying tickets for all the kids in town to ensure they got the same experience he did as a child. Kids now twelve and under are free all summer long.

“When you look at the demographics of what our little community is and then what’s happening to drive-ins all over the country, I just felt like it had to be done,” said Beauchamp. “Paying for little kids to see a movie with their family was important for them, and important for me,”

Doing it the right way, Beauchamp made sure he paid 100 percent of all movie licenses while also paying the gross ticket prices to make sure the Honeywell Foundation, which operates the drive-in rent free from Beauchamp, didn’t get cheated in the process.

The reaction was immediate.

“It was so well-received and people were so floored, I think it almost has more Facebook likes than the entire Honeywell Foundation, which has been around since the 1940’s,” said Beauchamp. “It’s been really wild and humbling, and that just makes you feel good.”

It’s that type of response that makes it all worthwhile for Beauchamp. With new generations learning the value of a night with friends and family at the local drive-in, it’s clear that the experience and the memories are something he believes everyone should cherish.

“It’s just old-fashioned fun. Anybody who had that experience can’t help but smile when thinking about or remembering it,” said Beauchamp “There’s just something that sticks about those romantic family outings at the drive-in.”

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