Women of Influence: Glenda Cassata Cook

A view from the top…
Bob’s Space Racers was founded in 1970 by Bob Cassata in Daytona Beach, Florida. The company has positioned itself to be one of the top games companies, providing games and management services for the arcade, park and trailer industries throughout the world. New games are created and manufactured every year. 

Glenda Cassata Cook

Glenda Cassata Cook, Bob Cassata‘s daughter, has been with the company her entire life. She is now the CEO and her husband, Jack Cook, is president. 

Accomplishments and affiliations…
Member, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions

Cook loves making people smile
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Glenda Cassata Cook recalls just one time when she thought she wanted to leave the family business that is Bob’s Space Racers. 

“I was about 15 years old,” she said. “I decided I wanted to be a florist. I had a friend that was working in a flower shop and I wanted to work in one, too.”

She found a job in a local shop in her hometown of Daytona Beach, Florida. She said her father, Bob Cassata, wasn’t very happy, because he wanted her to stay in the family business.

“He didn’t like it one bit,” she said.

As it turned out, neither did she. It was during the Christmas holidays and business at the flower shop was booming. She liked the decorating and floral arranging, being creative and working hard, which didn’t bother her because she was used to that. But, having her work station inside a cooler was something she didn’t expect.

“I had a work bench in the cooler and that is where I would put the arrangements together,” she said. “Anyway, it turned out to be a good lesson for me.” 

She never left the family business again. 

And not only has she never left, she can look back and realize how fortunate she has been. She has been able to work with her family and she has been able to grow as the business has grown. She took over designing from her mother, Joyce, at age 21 or 22 years old. She has designed and created games. She has been in the brain-storming sessions of many games. 

And, now, she is CEO of the company. 

Cook can remember when her dad made their first game. He had been working construction during the day, but, at night, he would go to the boardwalk and work the games. 

“He loved it down there,” she said.

Their first game was built in a burned-out trailer frame on their driveway, as other games that followed would be as well. They put two games on the trailer, a bowling game on one side and a balloon dart on the other. 

During the summer, her family, including her dad, her mom and her sister, Karen, would load up the game and hit the road for New Jersey playing fairs in the area. 

“I worked on the balloon dart game,” she said. “Back then, we didn’t have a machine to blow up the balloons. I did that. I got a lot of lung exercise back then.”

Cook also remembers all the extended family around to help and pitch in. There were her paternal grandparents, Anna and Tony Cassata, and her grandfather’s brother, Charlie Cassata, along with his wife, Margie. There was her Uncle Tony and Aunt Sheila Cassata. 

They were all around to help out and some traveled to New Jersey to do so. In addition, Cook said since her father was originally from New Jersey, they had family there as well.

“My grandparents would bring us a great big dinner so we could all sit down and have dinner together,” she said. 

New Jersey also is where they met Jack Mendes who would end up going to Florida and providing his skills to Bob’s Space Racers from the first. 

“Our first big game was a water race game, rockets to the moon that was named Bob’s Space Racers,” Cook said. 

It was in 1969 that the U.S. landed the Apollo Lunar Module on the moon, definitely an inspiration for the game. 

“My mom came home one day and said she had a new project for us,” Cook said. “She had bought models of the space rocket that went to the moon.”

The family spent several weeks putting those little models together. Cook said she had to listen to her mother for those weeks telling them not to sit so close to the glue.

“She would occasionally come by us and take her finger on our forehead and push us away from the glue,” she said.

Cook married Jack Cook and they have two sons, J.R. Cook who lives in Cypress, Texas, and Dylan Cook, who works in the factory doing graphic arts. J.R. Cook and his wife have an interstate lighting company and three daughters. 

Of all the games Cook has created, the one she likes the best is Stinky Feet. 

“I designed that game in about 24 hours after I found out about my first grandchild,” she said. “Jack and I were driving back from being on the road and J.R. called and told me I was going to be a grandma. I was so excited. I just sat there and started drawing out that game. By the time we had gotten back, I had a black and white drawing of it.”

So why did Stinky Feet come to mind?

The answer is simple. To prove to her they had taken a bath, her sons would say, “Smell my feet.”

“They were always sticking their feet in my face,” she said. 

Cook said Bob’s Space Racers continues to be super busy. One trend she is seeing is the growth of Family Entertainment Centers (FEC). 

“I see them coming on very strong,” she said. “There are a lot of big box store buildings sitting empty. The rents are cheap and people are putting in these great big beautiful FECs. They are thinking outside the box and making them for the entire family. They are providing good food and are a good value for the dollar. They are really changing it up.”

Cook said she knows that Bob’s Space Racers has grown to be in thousands of locations around the world, but she doesn’t really think about that often. When she thinks of Bob’s Space Racers, she thinks of family. 

The average number of years workers have worked there is 20. The artist who worked on that first big game for them was John Roseboom. His son, Eddie Roseboom, works for them now.

Cook feels the amusement industry has been a perfect fit for her.

Her work conditions have at least been warmer. 

“I love people,” she said. “I love creating things that make people smile.”

Pam Sherborne

This article appears in the FEBRUARY 2020 issue of Amusement Today.
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