JRA founder stays on as chairman
Keith James (pictured), president of Jack Rouse Associates (JRA), has taken full control of the company from Jack Rouse and Amy Merrell, who are both staying on at the Cincinnati-based design firm they founded in 1987.
“It will be business as usual at JRA,” says James. “This is purely a financial arrangement, not a reorganisation.” Indeed, Rouse will remain as JRA’s chairman and CEO, while Merrell continues as COO.
“There will be no change in our operating style or core philosophy,” highlights James, who has been a longtime JRA co-owner. “JRA has been a huge part of my life, so when the opportunity arose for me to extend my ownership of this wonderful company by acquiring Jack and Amy’s shares, I took advantage of it.”
Over the last 20 years, JRA has become well known as a designer and developer of museums, zoos, theme parks, entertainment complexes, sports facilities, visitor centres and other entertainment destinations.
Graduating from the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music in 1974, James teamed with Jack Rouse, one of his tutors, to found Kings Productions, the design department of the Taft Broadcasting Company’s amusement park division. With Kings Productions, he served in various executive positions with theme parks around the world before rejoining at Jack Rouse Associates in 1992.
Since that time, James has managed JRA’s design and production work for clients as varied as Lego, Coco-Cola, Chevron, Volkswagen, Turner Broadcasting and the Natural History Museum. He has also been instrumental in opening new markets in China, India, the Pacific Rim and Eastern Europe. James is also a past-president of the TEA (Themed Entertainment Association).