Noblesville Native Cory Haffner Finds his Stride as Sky Zone Owner
Writer / Jon Shoulders
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Even as a youngster, Noblesville native Cory Haffner had an inkling as to what kind of career path he wanted to embark on.
Observing the career progression of his father, who owned Haffner X-Ray Company (HXR), a medical sales, equipment and installation firm, Haffner appreciated the flexibility and allowance for family time that his position afforded.
“He always had time to coach my sports teams growing up, and I think the balance that he struck with owning his own company and being able to make his own schedule and have time for family rubbed off on me,” Haffner says. “I consider myself kind of a serial entrepreneur, and I think he inspired me to take that approach.”
After finishing high school, Haffner went on to play basketball for Danville Area Community College in Illinois before finishing a management and marketing degree at Purdue. Haffner isn’t the only athletic member of his family – his dad played ball at Butler, and his brother Scott played for two years in the NBA after a celebrated college career at the University of Evansville in the late 1980s. Scott broke UE’s single-game scoring record in 1989 when he dropped 65 points against Dayton – a record that still stands almost 30 years later.
“I’m probably the worst player in my family, but in my case that’s still not that bad,” Haffner says with a laugh. “Pretty soon after playing a little in college I knew that entrepreneurship was more my calling.”
Haffner joined HXR in a sales capacity after graduating in 1995, and bought the company from his father not long after. For the next eight years he ran HXR while garnering further entrepreneurial experience through co-ownership of several businesses including pest control and air freshener companies, and was voted into the Indianapolis Business Journal’s top “Forty Under Forty” in 2010.
In 2012 Haffner sold HXR to a national firm and found himself with the capital and desire to begin a new professional challenge. A fateful round of golf with a friend set him on a course that would combine his entrepreneurial passion and fondness for athletics.
“This friend of mine had gotten involved with Sky Zone pretty early on, and he knew I was selling my business,” Haffner says. “We were talking casually on the golf course, and he suggested I might want to take a look at it.”
Before long Haffner had done some exhaustive research on Sky Zone, a worldwide indoor family entertainment chain with connected trampolines and various activities like dodgeball and basketball, and he and a business partner decided to purchase the company’s Fishers location in early 2013.
“It’s been fun, and we’re constantly trying to find ways to improve our operation,” says Haffner, adding that the Fishers Sky Zone received the National Sky Zone WOW Award in 2015 for best overall location in America.
Haffner was confident enough in the Sky Zone business model to build a new location in Schererville just one year after acquiring the Fishers business, and last year he applied a few upgrades to both spots including a Warrior Course, which takes a cue from the popular “American Ninja Warrior” television show, a Warped Wall with platforms of varying heights, and Sky Joust, which takes place on pedestals over a foam pit. His locations now also feature lounges with wifi and additional rooms for private functions.
“We’re wanting to age up our demographic a little bit to where we’ve got more than just younger kids and teens,” Haffner says. “You’ve got the 20-somethings and 30-somethings and even the parents of the kids wanting to participate now. We do corporate team-building events and sometimes they need a lot of space, so the additions will help with that.”
Still a big sports fan, Haffner spends much of his non-work time coaching his daughters’ sports teams (Lydia, 12, Vivian, 11, and Isla, 7), and if he’s not coaching sports you can likely find him rooting on Purdue or Butler’s basketball squads.
“The Sky Zone allows me to make my own schedule, and I’m usually busy coaching whatever sport my daughters throw at me,” he says. “My dad coached all my stuff, and I enjoy doing a lot of that for my kids now too.”
Haffner and his wife Mandi relocated to Zionsville in 2015 after spending several years in his hometown of Noblesville, and the couple has come to appreciate the sense of community that pervades much of Indy’s north side.
“I loved growing up in Noblesville, and I’m thankful I was raised in that small-town community type of setting,” he says. “I like the fact that Zionsville reminds me a lot of where I grew up. In many ways Noblesville will always feel like home to me.”
Sky Zone in Fishers is located at 10080 E 121st. St #182. Visit them on Facebook or give them a call at 317-572-2999.