Strasburg is primed for Primo Gaming

Dusty Hillyard

Strasburg Chamber of Commerce celebrated its newest member with a unique grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony recently in the BB&T parking lot. Primo Gaming — the brainchild of Dusty Hillyard — is his second trailer business.

“This all started [when] my 5-year-old drew a picture at school,” Hillyard said. “He didn’t draw me in it because daddy was always working.”

Hillyard had worked as a tractor-trailer driver for 13 years. The money was good, but the schedule didn’t leave any time for him to enjoy his family’s company. Moved by his son’s keen 5-year-old senses, Hillyard invested in a trailer of his own.

“I definitely took a big gamble on myself,” Hillyard said. “Regardless of what you make, you can’t ever buy your kid’s youth back.”

Hillyard’s high-end porta-potty trailer got him off to a good start, but he wanted something he could rely on regardless of the season. He and his wife saw a hole in the market for birthday party activities. In order to make the next business work, Hillyard cashed out his 401(k), took a job with Budweiser in Winchester and purchased a mobile video game trailer.

The air-conditioned and heated trailer features three 32-inch screens inside and two more outside. Kids can sink onto couches and play their favorite Xbox and PlayStation games. Adults have the chance to re-live their favorite childhood games thanks to the NES Classic system Hillyard set up outside.

Strasburg and the Chamber of Commerce are embracing Hillyard’s spirit.

Angie Orndorff, executive director of the Strasburg Chamber of Commerce, said they are “just tickled” to have Hillyard, noting that his business is a great asset to the community.

“It may not have a storefront on Main Street or in the area, but he is local,” Orndorff said. “He does live here, and it is a new business for us.”

Strasburg policymakers have been focusing on revitalizing downtown and bringing businesses to the city for years. In 2013, the Strasburg Downtown Revitalization Project kicked off — a two-part program intended for facades and downtown projects. Two years ago, RevUp Strasburg brought a “Shark Tank”-style competition to the town, doling out $50,000 in prizes to prospective local business owners. RevUp has expanded from Strasburg to Shenandoah County. This year’s competition will take place next month.

Mayor Rich Orndorff was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the approach Hillyard is bringing to set Strasburg apart.

“Things like this are really exciting because it’s not a storefront, but it’s a business, and they want to be a part of the Chamber of Commerce,” the mayor said. “This is just another unique thing we have in Strasburg that’s part of our community and part of our Chamber of Commerce that I’m very grateful for.”

Despite the warm reception at his grand opening, Hillyard said he had received plenty of backlashes online. Opponents say kids should be outside more and trailers like Hillyard’s are making access to video games easier.

“That’s not it at all,” Hillyard said. “When I started this, I knew there’s a dire need for birthday party stuff, for cool stuff.”

Besides birthday parties, Hillyard has brought his trailer to fundraisers and charity events including a Madden 19 tournament fundraiser for the Warren County youth football team and an upcoming fundraiser for the Shenandoah Seminoles.

“I’m not building a brick and mortar shop and giving kids a pass, wanting them to quit baseball and football,” Hillyard said. “That’s why I donate the trailer to these fundraisers for equipment and stuff.”

Besides fundraisers and charity events, Hillyard said he hopes to blaze other trails. He said there are few businesses in the area with Americans With Disabilities Act-approved trailers with ramps. As his business continues to grow, he said he hopes to bring trailers like this to the area.

While he builds up the community around him, Hillyard is trying to bring his family closer together.

“I felt like a great provider, but I felt like I could be so much more than a great provider,” Hillyard said about his career path before the trailers. “There was a big part of me that wanted to be a better father. It’s just money, ultimately.”