6 ISSUE AT HAND
Changing Lanes and My Mind
Eat, Meet and Compete Renovations are paying off big for BPAA’s Proprietor of the Year John Losito.
By Scott Frager
8 SHORTS • Bowling Book Corner with Jeff Guinn. • Meridian Lanes, ID, and Devon Lanes, PA, celebrate 60 years. • Alberta, Canada’s Plaza Bowl passes the torch to its third generation. • Kegel promotes Brent Sims. • Ann Krull returns to Redemption Plus.
By Mark Miller 34
50 HISTORY Destination: Sun Valley, Idaho A history lesson about the founding of the ski resort at Sun Valley, with a connection to bowling. By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
By Patty Heath
22 BUSINESS OPERATIONS
This Looks Like A Job For Superbowl!
A New Front Door The first step to welcoming guests to your business is your website.
The Eickholz family comes to the rescue in Metropolis, IL. By Mark Miller
By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
72 REMEMBER WHEN
Snoopy 1950s By Patty Heath
Mid-Year Check-Up Ben Jones offers a plan to assess your company’s health. By Ben Jones
65 Showcase 66 Datebook
34 COVER STORY
Quest for Knowledge Lifelong learner Hendrik Motzer has grown his business for over 30 years. By Paul Lane 4
THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager email@example.com Skype: scottfrager
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber firstname.lastname@example.org
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS Patty Heath Ben Jones Pamela Kleibrink Thompson Paul Lane Mark Miller
EDITORIAL DIRECTORS Jackie Fisher firstname.lastname@example.org
ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks www.dzynwrx.com (818) 735-9424
FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)
12655 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, CA 91604 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 email@example.com
HOTLINE: 818-789-2695 SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $50 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, 12655 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2017, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
MEMBER AND/OR SUPPORTER OF:
ISSUE AT HAND
Changing Lanes and My Mind There I was, cruising down I-70 West at a cool clip of 70 miles per hour making my way from Kansas City to Lawrence, Kansas. My mission was to pack up and bring my daughter, Ellie, from her freshman year of
college at the University of Kansas back home to Los Angeles. This was a pretty straight forward plan on an unbelievably-stereotypical straight and flat Kansas turnpike with few distractions to get in my way. As I headed west, I noticed a few overhead digital freeway signs forewarning motorists of a NASCAR race and traffic coming that weekend. I didn’t pay much heed to the signs as I wasn’t planning to attend. Truthfully, it took me until late that night, after seeing a Facebook post from Mark and Diane Voight, that this was the GoBowling.com 400 race! And, that the race was being held right here, right now! So, I called a few friends at the BPAA and was invited down to the GoBowling.com tent where guests could roll two balls on real Brunswick lanes and could take photos of a few of the special guests/ VIPs
who were planning on stopping by: Chris Barnes of the PBA, Daniel Whitney (better known as Larry the Cable Guy) and a few of the fun personalities like DJ and emcee Adam Melrose from Bowling Music Network. Ellie and I trekked to the GoBowling.com tent and were blown away by the entire setup. The tent was huge, the lanes were like magnets for NASCAR fans and the tent was consistently packed with 100+ guests at any given time. The BPAA team in attendance were insanely fun, outgoing and working hard at being gracious hosts in 100+ degree heat. This GoBowling.com 400 fan zone tent was one that everyone in the industry would be proud. One could look around and see the GoBowling.com 400 logo everywhere, outside the stadium, in the fan zone, inside the stadium and on the infield (see photo). The sights, sounds and energy of NASCAR were real treats for my daughter and me to experience. Looking back, I confess that I was never a huge fan of sponsoring NASCAR races. My mind has now changed. I can see the vision and will do what I can to support its mission. I’m glad I saw that overhead freeway beacon that night. I’m glad that I was able to take my daughter to her first NASCAR race and our first together. I’m thrilled that the bowling leadership has kept the GoBowling.com 400 alive and well.
– SCOTT FRAGER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org
4Your Bowler of the Month Meet two nonagenarians, sisters Jane, aka Sadie, Hamad, 93, and Adele Hamad, 90. Both are lifelong residents of Akron, OH, and bowl together at AMF Riviera Lanes in the Skrew Ballz league. They have been bowling together since high school. This togetherness has encompassed their entire lives. The sisters married brothers in a joint wedding in February 1947. Jane’s husband, Harry, passed away in 1990. Adele and her husband, Camil, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year. Lorie Anderson, Screw Ballz team captain, says, ”They’re kicking my butt, and they do it on a regular basis. And they keep us in stitches every week. I love it.” A good attitude and bowling can do wonders.
Do you have a special bowler at your center we can highlight? Email Patty at email@example.com. 6
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
ONCE BITTEN, TWICE HOOKED
In April 1988, an Arcata, CA, high school student, new to bowling, walked into the E & O Bowl in McKinleyville, CA, and bowled a perfect game. That was 18-year-old Andre Carey. Now 47, Carey has decided to buy the now E & O Lanes. Carey said it was an opportunity he could not pass up. It was listed in December 2016, and on March 17, he and his wife, Carla Kendrick, became the new owners. “My great grandparents bowled here; my grandparents, my mom, I bowled here. Hopefully, my kids and grandkids will bowl here as well,” Andre Carey is right where he Carey said. wants to be. Carey likes the bowling center just the way it is, right down to its handwritten scoring. Out of tradition, he will change the name back to E & O Bowl. However, the building is now 57 years old. Carey shared that he does plan on making some improvements, such as putting on a fresh From L to R: John Carey, Carla coat of paint and upgrading the bar so patrons can use debit cards. His father, John Carey, is a longtime customer Kendrick and Andre Carey. Andre and his wife Carla are the and will head up all the birthday parties. new owners of E & O Bowl.
A VILLAGE WITHIN A VILLAGE Across the U.S., the multi-use ‘village’ is becoming more and more prevalent. It is a magnet for not only urban Millennials but those groups moving into retirement who want the convenience of many venues within walking distance. By next year, Gorham Village, ME, will have a new bowling center, restaurant, wine bar, retail space and about 30 apartments—all in one building. The Gorham Planning Board approved a five-story building, taller and more dense than any in the town center. Developer Jon Smith of Great Falls Construction, said, “This is the first larger-scale opportunity to bring people to the village, to be able to live there and hop out the front door and take in what Gorham Village has to offer.” Construction will begin in the spring and take about 18 months to complete. The first floor will house the bowling center and a restaurant, as well as 3,000 square feet of retail space yet to be identified. The builders said the bowling will add a much-needed opportunity for recreation. “This [bowling] goes across all ages,” Smith said. “Kids can be in there. Grandparents can be in there.” The second, third and fourth floors will include at least 30 market-rate apartments, a mix of studios and one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The top floor will be a wine bar with an exterior patio.
ANDY B’S MEETS TEXAS Bartholomy Bowling Centers, based in Springfield, MO, will be opening its first Andy B’s
Entertainment & Bowling Center in Texas. The location is Rayzor Ranch Town Center in Denton, and it is set to open in summer 2018. The 45,000square-foot center will feature multi-story laser tag, bowling lanes and other games. Bartholomy has 10 other locations, with this being the fourth facility under the Andy B’s brand.
CANADA’S THREE-GENERATION PLAZA BOWL There is something special about a business that survives the test of generations. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is home to a very well-maintained 58-year-old, three-generation, five-pin bowling center. Founded in 1959 by Lawrence Stride, a WWII vet who first ran a center in Grande Prairie, the then-named Plaza Bowl, a 16-lane, basement center, is still in mint condition. Grandson Trevor Stride shared, in an interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM, “My dad [Terry] and my grandpa [Lawrence] did an amazing job putting a lot of care into this place, and it really shows when you come down here.” It is as if you stepped back in time with the original wood lanes, marble balls, wool curtains, and Brunswick equipment. Now the third-generation influence is being felt. Trevor’s father, Terry, is turning the reigns over to his son who has rebranded the house, Plaza Bowling Co. In moving forward, Trevor has installed craft beer taps, added TVs over the lanes, changed up the music and added late night hours—all to appeal to a younger audience. In the works are plans for a full kitchen, but, for the present, there are gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches to whet the appetite. June 2017
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS ALSO HAPPENING Pinstripes, an upscale bowling and bocce center with a restaurant and bar, is scheduled to open later this year at The Shops at Clearfork, anchored by Neiman Marcus, in southwest Fort Worth, TX. The 30,000square-foot venue will include 12 bowling lanes, six indoor and outdoor bocce courts, plus a bistro and patios with fire pits. There will also be event space to accommodate 20 to 600 guests. Bayside Bowl, Portland, ME, has completed a 10-month, multimillion-dollar expansion that includes new amenities and a rooftop solar system. There are eight new bowling lanes, now totaling 20; a mezzanine overlooking the lanes; an old-school arcade; and a one-of-a-kind rooftop bar and taco truck. Thirsty Duck, a duckpin bowling center and pub, has opened its second location in Sussex, WI. The popularity of its Wauwatosa location inspired this new venue which has 18 bowling lanes in a 19,000-squarefoot restaurant. The pub will also offer live music and shuttle buses to Brewers games and concerts. Scott’s Addition is a new, trendy area in Richmond, VA. To add to its pull, developers are in the beginning stages of creating an upscale boutique bowling center, River City Roll. It is envisioned as a 20-lane center with a restaurant, covered patio space, and area for games such as shuffleboard, multiple big-screen TVs for sporting events and a 150-space parking lot. Construction is expected to take about eight months.
BOWLING BOOK CORNER Summer is creeping up. Do you have your summer reading list for those lazy, crazy days of summer? If not, allow me … This month, let me introduce you to Jeff Guinn, a New York Times bestselling author. Also, an investigative journalist, his novels grow from real events and/or real people. Some previous works are: Life & Times of Charles Manson; The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde; and The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral and How It Changed the American West. How does this relate to bowling? Well, bowling was a popular Jeff Guinn pastime in the Old West. While researching for his book on the O.K. Corral gunfight, Guinn came across interesting facts about Tombstone. Besides the smithy, a bar, and barber shop/medical office, there were a baseball team, a horse racing track, an ice cream parlor and a bowling alley. The idea of bowling became the seed for one of the characters in his book, Silver City. Protagonist Cash McLendon wound up running a bowling alley in the back of an 1870s’ frontier feed store. Silver City is the third book of a Western trilogy; Glorious and Buffalo Trail precede it. Of course, every Western must have the Indian battle, in this case with Geronimo, and a pursuit across the desert. Patrick Bratigan, or Killer Boots, is introduced in the first book and our bowling proprietor Cash is there. Intrigued? Good. Pull up a lawn chair, put your feet up, and read all three. Next month, there will be one more good, summer read. 10
IT’S BASEBALL TIME A place too cool and no hope of visiting
The MLB Giants’ home is San Francisco. However, their origin was New York. In 1883, they were called the New York Gotham’s Base Ball Club. Then they became the New York Giants and with the move to the West Coast, became the now San Francisco Giants. To pay homage to their roots, the stadium, AT&T Park, has the Gotham Club. Don’t get excited. It is more than exclusive. Membership includes longtime season ticket holders, who can afford the initial fee of $2,500, plus a yearly $1,000+… if you are The exclusive bowling invited, or a former player. lanes. Very off limits. Every swanky, exclusive hangout needs bowling lanes, and the Gotham Club has two. It also has arcade games, billiards, and areas to relax or view the game without elbowing through the crowds. Well, we can dream or put View from the club to it on our bucket list and hope. the field.
Meridian Lanes in Meridian, ID, is closing in on 60 years in the bowling business and still thriving. Well, 58 years to be exact since Gene and Ruth Quintieri founded the eight-lane center with some friends. Today the center runs more than 20 leagues, including a bustling senior citizen league called The Royal Seniors, which is 102 members strong. The center has expanded three times over the years, bringing it up to 32 lanes. Family continuity follows suit with employees as well as the Quintieri family. Daughter Jo Wilmot told Holly Beech of MyMeridianPress.com, “We’ve had, I don’t know how many employees work here 35-plus years before they retired. I still have employees that have been here 20 to 25 years.” wwwwww Six decades and going strong. The year was 1959 and Devon Lanes, Wayne, PA, opened its doors. A local landmark, Devon Lanes boasts the Early Birds League which nested in the new center and has been there ever since. The 24-lane center has been in the hands of family from the beginning: Scott Furman, Brett Furman, and their sister Pamela Kofsky. In March the Early Birds and the Furman family celebrated their long relationship with family, friends and the community. IBI
ß BITS & PIECES ß ß ß Pennsylvania: Bill Proposes Video Gambling
A bill legalizing video gambling machines has been proposed in the Pennsylvania legislature. It has been estimated that there are approximately 15,000 illegal gambling machines across the state. This is lost revenue, according to Senator Lisa Boscola, who says that the additional money would benefit state emergency services, opiod treatment and gambling addiction. The bill would limit bars and clubs to five machines with a $5 maximum bet and a $1,000 daily limit. Rest stops would also be included but they would be allowed 10 machines. ---------------------------------------------------------------
All Maple Family Centers will be Maple Lanes
Maple Family Centers, the parent company to a chain of centers across Long Island, Queens and Florida, announced that by the end of the year, all their bowling centers will be rebranded Maple Lanes. The first Maple Lanes opened in Brooklyn in 1960. Since that time, Maple Family Centers has established five locations, four in New York and one in Florida. According to John LaSpina, president of Maple Family Centers, the name change reinforces the company’s longtime dedication to bring customers the best bowling experience. ---------------------------------------------------------------
UK’s Hollywood Bowl is Up for 2017
The tenpin bowling operator Hollywood Bowl Group, based in the UK, said it “traded well” in the six months to March 31. The company began trading on the London Stock Exchange last September. The centers have continued to trade ahead of the company’s initial estimates. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Ahead of the Curve
Brooklyn Bowl, a 16-lane center, music venue and restaurant, has achieved LEED® certification, a ‘green’ building rating system, the first bowling center to receive this distinction. While the center has string-mounted pin spotters, reclaimed cork and recycled truck tire floors, it is also uses 100 percent wind-powered electricity. The latest addition to this green resource is the XLERATOR high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers purchased from Excel Dryer. ---------------------------------------------------------------
USBC Election – No Surprises
USBC board of directors re-elected Frank Wilkinson, owner of Rab’s Country Lanes, Staten Island, NY, as USBC president and Cathy DeSocio, JOMA Company, Kansas, as vice president for the 2017-2018 season. Wilkinson has been president since the 2015-2016 season. The 2017-2018 season will be the final terms for Wilkinson and DeSocio because of term limits, as each position is limited to three one-year terms.
WATCH A TRUMP BOWLING TRIP In a family outing, First Lady Melania Trump took the two youngest Trump children on a bowling date to Bowlmor Lanes at the Chelsea Pier. Bowlmor is a high-end, luxury boutique center offering an arcade, laser tag, along with bowling. Barron, 11 years old, and his step-sister Tiffany, 23 years old, were accompanied by Melania, who did not bowl, and an estimated 30 Secret Service agents. They spent two hours at the venue and were then ushered inside blacked-out SUVs that lined the curb outside.
Security outside Bowlmor
KARAOKE QUEEN Singer/actress Jennifer Hudson may not have won “American Idol,” however, she definitely has achieved great acclaim. While plugging Adam Sandler’s new Netflix movie, Sandy Wexler, Hudson shared on the British talk show, Graham Norton Show, how she sang in contests as a kid. She came across a karaoke contest in a small bowling center in Florida recently and took a stab at it again. “I actually won. They didn’t know I was Jennifer Hudson. They were like, ‘You just won $75!’”
BILLY BOB’S R&R ON THE ROAD Billy Bob Thornton, traveling with his band, The Boxmasters, from Las Vegas to Parker, CO, for a gig, stopped to relax and bowl a few games at Freeway Bowl in Grand Junction. He was spotted by Carrie Michalowski, the bartender at the center.
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY VISITS THE LANES
CHANNING TATUM TURNS 37 Magic Mike, aka Channing Tatum, celebrated his 37th birthday enjoying a bowling party with his wife, Jenna Dewan Tatum, and their 3year-old daughter, Everly.
Barron exiting the center with bodyguards.
Ruby McEwen welcomes McConaughey to Mahall’s.
Academy-Award winner Matthew McConaughey is filming the movie, White Boy Rick, in Ohio. For a little R&R, he visited Mahall’s 20 Lanes in Lakewood, OH. The film tells the story of a bluecollar father and his teenage son, who becomes an undercover informant and later a drug dealer in the 1980s in Detroit.
PEOPLEWATCHING With the recent addition of the Torch™ and Specto™ to Kegel’s product line and the advancements in new coaching tools, Kegel’s current training center coordinator, Brent Sims, has been promoted to director of coaching technology. Sims has been coaching at the Kegel Training Center since 2001 and is a certified pro shop technician. In his new position, Sims will oversee marketing and technical support for current coaching Brent Sims tools, as well as aid in expanding the line. 16
Redemption Plus has welcomed Ann Krull back to the company. Krull was with the company for 12 years, from 2002 to 2014. She will be responsible for managing existing business, as well as new business development. “We welcome Ann back with open arms and high expectations,” said company chief Sean Stormes. Ann Krull
It is never too early to begin to think about Christmas. The Old Newsboys of Flint, MI, hosted the 5th annual Bowling Fun-raiser & Silent Auction on St. Patrick’s Day at B’s Bowling Center. Since 1924, the Old Newsboys have put gifts under the tree for more than 800,000 children across Genesee County, MI. AMF Bowling Lanes in Webster, NY, was the place to be for Strikes for Abilities, an annual fundraiser for CDS Monarch, a national organization assisting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This event is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Wearing their pajamas, bowlers headed to Big Al’s in Beaverton, OR. The 12th annual Pajama Bowl for Foster Kids raised funds to go toward funding extracurricular activities for foster kids in the community. More than 200 people turned out for the 15th annual Hometown Heroes bowling tournament at Eastway Lanes in Erie, PA. Sponsored by the General Electric U.E. Local 506 Sports Committee, the funds will go to the Veterans Justice Program to buy supportive recovery materials and motivational items to promote a sober lifestyle. Strike Out Hunger Bowl-a-thon filled St. Lucie Lanes,
St. Lucie, FL. Proceeds from the event will benefit the agency’s Meals on Wheels program. Iroquois Lanes, Canajoharie, NY, gave its space to the Junior Youth Program of Canajoharie, a fledgling but expanding after-school program for children four to eight years old. The fundraiser was important to provide operational expenses and, also, to spread awareness of the program. The local Susan G. Komen’s annual Bowl For The Cure fundraising event was held at Oops Alley in Pace, FL. Many in attendance were breast cancer survivors. The community of Albany, NY, came together at Playdium Bowling Center to raise money for PAWS, Pets Are Wonderful Supporters, which helps individuals living with HIV and AIDS pay for veterinary bills, pet supplies and pet care.
OTHER FUNDRAISING EVENTS
Nearly $48K was raised for cancer research for The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota. “Bowling for the Battle” was held at Echo Lanes in Austin, TX. continued on page 19...
SHORTS Alley Katz in Westerly, RI, has hosted Westerly’s Area Restaurant Meals, WARM, a social service agency to help the homeless, for 25 years. Valencia Lanes, Valencia, CA, held the 4th annual Bowling for Hope for Circle of Hope, an organization that gives local cancer patients support. The Randolph Kiwanis Club hosted its second annual
Pins 4 Pets fundraiser at Rockaway Lanes in Rockaway, NJ. The seventh annual Bowling for the Boyz, raising funds for testicular cancer, was held at Delphos Recreational Center in Delphos, OH. Since 2010 when an endowment was established, over $50,000 has been raised through Bowling for the Boyz.
What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ZFlowers for the Living Award In 1960, Cleveland Kegler publisher Sam Levine was inspired by a poem, written by Fritz Howell, to set up an award to applaud those in the bowling industry while they were alive and able to appreciate the accolades. “Flowers for the Living” was Howell’s way of saying that it is better to shine light on one’s accomplishments while they are here and not after they have passed away. “What do I care if, when I’m gone, the whole newspaper world Gives me a glowing write-up and the nation’s flags are furled?
Why, it won’t flatter me a bit, no matter what is said, So kindly throw your flowers now, and knock me when I’m dead.”
From 1961 to 2014, one person in the industry had been selected to receive this award. After a short hiatus, IBI has picked up the sponsorship of this well-received award. Bowling has many heroes in many areas of the industry, and it is incumbent upon all of us to shine a light on all they do.
By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
bowling center’s website is the online front door to the business–vital to making that all-important first impression. How can you know if your website is welcoming customers instead of turning them away? The Digital Performance Index, which measures the effectiveness of websites, is used by prominent companies including Google, Apple, Amazon, and Ford. Your bowling center business can live or die on your DPI. Paul Chambers, CEO of Element5 Digital in Troy, MI, Katie Decker of K Decker Consulting, and Cody Jones, CEO/founder of Los Angeles based Elevate Syndicate Media are experts in analyzing websites and offer advice to bowling proprietors. “The DPI score is an indication of how well a company is performing in the digital space,” explains Paul Chambers of Element5. Katie Decker, of K Decker Consulting, and Chambers analyzed the websites of attendees at the 2017 F2FEC conference and share the secrets of DPI with bowling proprietors. The DPI score is an aggregate of third party tests 22
that are run on a website to test its performance, its ability to be read by search engines and to simulate the experience your customers have when they visit. The score is evaluated on 11 key categories. “Social engagement, mobile responsiveness, domain authority and more all contribute to the success of your website online,” states Chambers Having lots of social engagement is the single most important element, so make your website easy to share. Social engagement is “the back and forth interaction between you and your customer on social media,” says Decker. “Be part of the conversation with your customers and engage with them.” Ask questions, share relevant information on new products or events. Ensure your posts offer value to your customers. “Engagement can be a like or share, a tweet or comment,” adds Decker. “Any way a customer engages with you and your brand is engagement. Social media is a great place to boost sales and offer specials to your customer.” Bowling centers must be easy to find in local search results.
BUSINESS OPERATIONS Decker explains why local search is important: “Not having a local presence online is like removing the sign from your center — you are invisible to potential customers. Have you ever searched for something like ‘bowling near me’ on your phone? Many people do and if you're not showing up, you're missing out.” “SEO (search engine optimization) is the driving force to enable customers to locate you on the web,” shares Cody Jones of Elevate Syndicate Media. “With so many people now connected via smartphones, you have to utilize proper SEO and keywords to ensure you land in the top results of Cody Jones, CEO/founder of Elevate Syndicate popular search engine platforms.” Media. Readability is critical. If a visitor can’t understand your website, he won’t stay or return. It’s better to write website copy at a sixth-grade level, especially for mobile visitors, as no one wants to read difficult material on the phone. Your website must be mobile-friendly. “A site with a ‘responsive design’ is one that works equally well on desktop computers, tablets and mobile devices without requiring a separate mobile site,” says Chambers. “While a mobile version is acceptable, Google prefers responsive sites and displays them higher in search results, while sites that are
not responsive are penalized and will disappear off the front page of Google or Bing.” Your website should be optimized to view on a mobile device. Do not include any pinch and zoom features as these are too difficult for the mobile user. “A great website needs to have many attributes in this media-driven day and age,” observes Jones. “Mobile responsiveness, great creatives (graphics and imagery), and SEO are essentials of a successful web platform.” A high page load speed is critical because one of the single biggest annoyances to site visitors is a slowloading site. “As mobile continues to dominate how we access the Web, having a site that loads quickly is critical,” says Chambers. “It’s also a factor Google and Bing use in determining how far up in search results they should display your site.”
Paul Chambers, CEO of Element5 Digital.
The title tag is the official title of the webpage. This tag shows the page title in a browser’s toolbar and is the headline in search results. If your title is “HOME,” you aren’t going to grab attention as well as if the tag is the official title of your bowling center along with your center branding. Meta tags can affect your search engine rankings. The meta description tag should be a short and accurate 24
BUSINESS OPERATIONS summary of your page content. This description can also show up directly in search engine results and therefore affects whether or not the user clicks through to your site. “We use Google Analytics on a daily basis,” states Jones. “It’s our roadmap to client brand equity. Metrics paint a specific picture of exactly who your audience/clients/consumers are. Google Analytics measures demographics, interests, behavior, location/geo, technology, benchmarks, and conversion.” One big metric is a brand’s bounce rate. A bounce rate defines how long a user lands on your brand’s site before leaving. Websites and your social media presence can help with branding. “When it comes to websites and digital marketing, the days of ‘set it and forget it’ are gone,” Chambers comments. “If you aren't paying attention to the experience you provide online and aren’t continuously making improvements to that experience, you're going to lose customers.” Your website should reflect your bowling center, for example, if you remodeled your center recently, you should also update your website. “Once you've set up your site,” advises Decker, “check it often to understand how it's being used by customers. No website is ever perfect and will need ongoing review and updates. It's all about creating an enjoyable experience online that promises the same for walk-in customers.”
If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur. Chambers elaborates, “A website is the first impression people get and where future visitors will go to learn more about a bowling center. It’s important to work with a web consultant you trust. Too often companies want a quick fix and don't find a partner who understands their business. When you get ready to invest in your business online, find someone who understands your goals, understands what you're trying to accomplish, and can walk you through what they're going to do to help you. There is a saying, ‘If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.’”Decker has suggestions for bowling proprietors about website design. “Don't focus as much on how it looks. Focus on how it works. A pretty site with no clear call to action, hidden contact information, or no optimized mobile presence is worthless. In some instances, a complete redesign may not be necessary. We have a program we 26
run that analyzes the current site and offers recommendations for small improvements which is often a great place to start. If you're building a new site, make it a WordPress site. This platform is used by over 25% of all of the websites on the Web. That many people can't be wrong, and it gives you flexibility with the company you work with.” Decker also counsels bowling proprietors about social media. “Find where your audience spends time online and go there. But if you go, engage. You can't Katie Decker, K Decker Consulting. just create social accounts and post the same content to all of them. Each network is its own community. Find out who hangs out where and talk and share relevant information with them. Don’t stress yourself out trying to be in all places – pick a few channels and focus on them.” “Digital is here to stay,” observes Jones. “Literally, everyone is connected thanks to smartphones. Social media has given users a real sense of ownership to the businesses they frequent. Having a voice in the digital landscape will build your brand. At the end of the day, businesses are trying to increase user/consumer base and revenue. Your online ecosystem is the new business card.” Decker advises bowling center proprietors, “Have Google Analytics or some type of analytics tool which helps you understand who is looking at your website.” “Family entertainment is a great marketplace, and operators should consider keeping things fun for their guests with regards to digital,” concludes Jones. “Easy to use UI (user interface), great creatives, and a fun online experience are vital.” ❖
RESOURCES: 8 Element5 Digital is a collective of creative pioneers with a passion for the digital world and overwhelming love for crafting effective and memorable experiences. element5digital.com 8 K Decker Consulting was founded in 2015 to deliver digital solutions to help businesses grow. kdeckerconsulting.com 8 Since 2010, Elevate Syndicate Media has worked with brands to help them achieve success. 424.274.1434 | elevatesyndicate.com 8 Face to Face Entertainment Conference (F2FEC) f2conference.com
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson lives in Idaho. In addition to writing, she is a career coach and scenario role player for peace officer training. Pamela worked as a production manager on the Emmy Award-winning animated series The Simpsons, where she bowled regularly with members of the crew. She speaks on career issues at conferences all over the world.You can reach Pamela at PamRecruit@q.com.
YOUR MID-YEAR BUSINESS CHECK-UP Ben Jones of Live Oak Bank offers a plan to assess your company’s health. By Ben Jones
ummer is a good time to schedule your midyear business check-up. Just as you regularly assess your physical health, assessing the health of your business is equally important. Set aside time this month to look over the first half of the year and make plans for the start of the fall season and the second half of the year.
❏ Assessing Progress If you set goals at the beginning of the year, now is the time to evaluate your progress. Keep in mind the external factors that can positively or negatively affect your success such as weather, competition, economy, gas prices, interest rates and market forces and changes in consumer behavior. Narrow down what business goals you still plan to complete in 2017. Create an objective outcome and action strategy and write it down; prioritize your list and put estimated completion date targets next to each item with a goal to carry out the action steps before year end. I suggest including milestones for each month. Consider involving your staff in the planning and execution process. An engaged staff is the soul of the business, and the more involved the staff, the deeper the connection to the success. When they understand the goal and vision for the business, they can better support management and help to sustain the success of the center. A positive all the way around. 28
Mid-Year Check-Up ❏ Customer Satisfaction While you are attentive to customer satisfaction daily, your mid-year check-up is a good time to review feedback from the first half of the year. Search for online reviews on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Online review comments will provide candid feedback on what your bowling center is doing well and areas that might need improvement. Do not ignore online reviews! Regardless of what the online reviews state about your business, share them with your staff. Let them know that you are committed to creating or continuing to maintain an atmosphere of positive customer experiences each time someone walks in the front door. If you are not comfortable with social media, consider engaging a firm that specializes in relationship management. Keep track of compliments that are specific about your staff along with targeted feedback that is actionable. If you are consistently receiving compliments about one of your employees, look for ways to acknowledge them. Also look for ways to use their strengths to continually improve customer satisfaction.
❏ Financial Matters Make sure your financial statements, along with books and accounts are current and accurate. Review your business debt to ensure that your loan terms are competitive. You may be able to improve cash flow by refinancing current debt. Freeing up cash flow now will position your center for future growth opportunities and
FINANCE prepare you for unforeseen business challenges. The mid-year point is also a good time to review your estimated taxes. Are your revenues on track with your initial projections? Prepare now for end-of-year tax obligations by making adjustments that keep you on track and avoid surprises later. Consult your accountant or tax preparer before making any changes.
Examining the Vital Signs In business, vital signs are ratios and metrics. Just as a physician checks your vital signs, you must do the same for your business.
❏ Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) COGS is the center’s cost for products that are later sold, such as inventory and food and beverages. When looking at COGS as a percentage of revenue, the lower the percentage, the more profitable the business. Product presentation and price adjustments may be simple ways for you to improve COGS. If you have not raised your prices in the past few years, assess the market and your competition to see if a price increase
believes in your leadership and the mission and values of your bowling center, that belief translates into internal alignment and shows up outwardly in better experiences for your customers. Remember that the front line is the bottom line, and your lowest level of authority should be your highest level of priority. Spend adequate time improving your staff engagement.
❏ Net Operating Margin (NOM) Another of the vital signs in business is net operating margin. As a measurement of profitability, NOM is an indicator of how well a business controls its costs. To find NOM, divide Net Operating Income (NOI) by total revenue. If you notice your NOM is weak, consider ways to increase sales and decrease expenses. Are there variable expenses that can be better controlled? Do you need to implement a marketing campaign to increase business? Do you need to adjust your pricing? Have you interpreted trends in your local market? Is there a shift away from or to your core clientele and attraction base?
❏ Debt Service Coverage (DSC)
can improve the financial health of your business. Do you have departments that are underperforming or products that are not selling? It may be time to reduce the price to move those products and replace them with more attractive options. What about your food and beverage offerings? Is it time to update or reprice your menu? If so, I suggest that you cost out each item and make sure that the corresponding menu price adequately compensates you for food cost and labor.
❏ Employee Engagement Employee engagement impacts several aspects of the business from the intangibles of team work and cohesiveness, to customer experience, to the very tangible bottom line. During June, meet with your staff one-on-one to discuss their performance and elicit feedback for ways to improve the center. Increasing staff engagement is an intangible that leads to many positive outcomes such as increased customer satisfaction. When your staff 30
Another metric to consider in your mid-year checkup is debt service coverage (DSC). Cash available to service debt (NOI) divided by the total debt service for all interest, principal, and lease payments (NOI / Total Debt Service) equals your DSC. For example, a DSC of 1.50x indicates there is 50% more cash on hand after expenses to repay all debt obligations. Said another way, there is $1.50 available to pay each $1.00 of debt. Conversely, a DSC of .9x (below 1 to 1) would indicate there are only .90 cents available to pay each $1.00 of debt, meaning that your debt obligations exceed the cash available to pay those obligations…not good! At Live Oak Bank, we look for positive DSC and enough of a cushion to overcome “bumps in the night.” As you develop solid routines and begin to track these metrics month after month, year after year, you will quickly notice trends and anomalies and be better prepared for the future. It is mid-year and you have another six months in which to identify opportunities, implement changes and make good things happen. ❖
Ben Jones is General Manager and FEC Specialist of Entertainment Center Financing at Live Oak Bank, co-creator of F2FEC and has been in the FEC business for over 30 years.
QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE Always searching for information, Hendrik Motzer has grown his business for over three decades.
By Paul Lane n 1979, a sixteen-year old Hendrik Motzer drilled his first bowling ball. A few months later, he earned his diploma in ball measuring and drilling after attending a how-to workshop, conducted by this writer, at AMF Germany’s headquarters in Wiesbaden. In 1980, young Hendrik started working as a counter manager in the family’s center in Reutlingen, a center housing 12 ten-pin lanes and three nine-pin lanes. By 1984, Hendrik was the center manager and founded his own company, Bowling Service Hendrik Motzer, now known as Bowl-Star, running up to ten full-service pro shops all over Germany. In 1985, he expanded the business by importing spare parts and consumer products — balls, bags, shoes and accessories — from the U.S.A. and, in the years to follow, became a full-line, fullservice distributor. But this story is about Hendrik’s bowling center business and his operating philosophy, management style, and how he has skillfully responded and adapted to the ever-changing needs of today’s recreation and entertainment consumers. An important aspect of Hendrik’s continued education in the industry involves international travel. Since 1986, he has attended all but one of the annual BPAA conventions and Bowl Expos. “A must for me in every year’s schedule,” says Hendrik. “It’s a great window and showcase for everything that’s new in the industry, and not just products, but industry trends as a whole. There’s always so much valuable information available at this annual industry gathering.” Between 1988 and 2002, Hendrik traveled to the U.S.A. about ten times to bowl in the annual ABC/USBC Championships, and not just for the bowling. “It’s also another opportunity to learn more about our business,” added Hendrik. Putting his ongoing quest for industry knowledge to good use, in 1986 Hendrik was one of the co-founders of the German Bowling Proprietors Association and, in 1995, was a co-founder of the European Bowling
Proprietors Association (EBPA) in Helsinki, Finland. Under the brand name City Bowling, Hendrik has centers in three cities in Germany: Reutlingen, Wiesbaden and Kassel. The Wiesbaden center is located 243 kilometers (116 miles) from his base in Reutlingen, and Kassel at 399 kilometers (194 miles). Does this create a management issue for Hendrik? No is the answer. “We have an excellent management team and all locations are easily accessible on Germany’s Autobahn system,” says Hendrik. City Bowling in Reutlingen opened in 1977 with 12 ten pin and three nine pin lanes, plus two pool tables housed in a 15,000 square-foot facility in the center of the city, just one block from the main shopping street. This was the first center to install a semi-automatic Japanese-built scoring system from AMF, a unit that stood between the overhead score projector table and the ball rack. The unit had two built-in monitors and a printer and could accommodate up to five players on each lane. Today, after several modernizations and a 2,000 square-foot expansion, the Reutlingen center now has 22 ten pin lanes, two Highway 66 fun lanes, several pool tables, air hockey, darts, two bars, and a Pancake House and, since 2016, an indoor 3D black light indoor mini-golf center, all housed in a 35,000 square-foot facility. “In short, we made the gradual Hendrik with son Dominik, daughter Nadine and wife Claudia.
COVER STORY transition from a traditional bowling center to a family entertainment center,” said Hendrik. City Bowling in Wiesbaden remains a more traditional center, housing 19 lanes on two floors, a bar and small restaurant in a 13,000 square-foot building with no room for expansion and no space available to turn it into an FEC. City Bowling in Kassel has added billiards, air hockey and basketball machines to this 20-lane facility, but there is no space to add more amenities. Overall, Hendrik describes his centers as something in between an FEC and a BEC, with the Reutlingen center being a full-blown FEC. Between the three centers, Hendrik has AMF 82-70 and 82-90 pinspotters, adding several updates and conversion kits to the machines over the years. He has QubicaAMF Bowland automatic scoring. “It’s important to maintain and upgrade your scoring systems and machines to ensure you offer the best in terms of customer satisfaction,” said Hendrik. “When equipment fails, we fail the customer, too,” he added. Hendrik made this observation about the big mistakes many proprietors make during the summer when business typically slows down: “Your long-term business depends on the
standard you set year round, regardless of the slowdown during the summer,” he said. “And you run the risk of customers who visit your center not returning in the winter because of the sub-standard conditions and service they experienced during the summer,” he added. Redemption machines are not allowed in Germany, and for most other machines you must pay a monthly fun-machine tax. TV games with any shooting or war themes are not allowed in Germany or, where they are allowed, they incur an additional tax of 250 Euros (266.00 USD) a month. Air hockey, basketball and boxing machines are doing well in Germany and do not incur any additional tax over and above the fun machine tax. In addition to upgrading and maintaining all aspects of his facilities, and offering dynamite customer service, Hendrik 36
says, “All this is a waste of time and effort without the support of a well-planned and implemented marketing program. A program should encompass a marketing mix of advertising, promotion, public relations, collateral print, the internet and both in-house and outside sales and promotion,” he added. “There are many owners who are one-dimensional in their thinking. There are those who are bowling and not marketing minded. And those who operate remotely, simply as a business investment and who expect the revenues to pour in without hands-on involvement. Then there are those who are focused on a single entity within their overall business, for example, the restaurant. But, happily, there are those with a different view. Those who love the business and apply business acumen and expertise to every aspect of their business,” says Hendrik, “these owners will have and enjoy good business in the long-term.” Hendrik’s marketing activity is extensive, with programs that include corporate party bookings and meetings (10%),
birthday parties (10%), league (12%) and open and party bowling on weekends (50-60%). Hendrik had this to say about the necessity of sport bowling continued on page 40...
COVER STORY ...continued from page 36
today: “No center can live without open and party bowling, but 80% of centers can survive today without sport bowling. However, I believe owners of most well-managed centers would prefer to have a good mix of both sport and open/party bowling. For the good and longevity of our industry, bowling organizations need to work together to develop and promote new ways to combine both elements in our centers.” Wisely, he promotes his food and beverage service independently. “It’s very important to promote food and beverage service separately from bowling to attract non-bowlers into your facility for food, billiards and a great cocktail. Most of the customers at the Pancake House, which sits alongside the Reutlingen center and has its own storefront entrance, are from outside or from the 3D black light mini golf center, but the kitchen is also serving food for the bowling center,” said Hendrik. A unique and highly popular feature at Reutlingen is a cocktail machine. The machine houses 25 different alcoholic
beverages and juices. It can create up to 38 different cocktails that get freshly mixed to order. “A fantastic machine,” says Hendrik, “that gives the proprietor the chance to serve fresh cocktails that are consistent in terms of taste and quality.” Each of the City Bowling locations has a bowling van with a large bowling pin on the roof. The managers move the vans to various locations, using preferred parking spaces in front of supermarkets, movie theaters and other high traffic areas such as shopping centers. “One manager had a great marketing and advertising idea for our vans,” says Hendrik. “She advertised ‘Find Our Van’ and post a photo of yourself with the van on Facebook. For four weeks the manager parked the van in a number of good spots and everyone who posted a photo was eligible for a 200 Euro 40
voucher worth about $216 USD for use towards a bowling party. This turned out to be a great promotion which was talked about extensively in the social community.” In terms of outside marketing, Hendrik also takes portable lanes to the local communities, for example at public events, parks, schools and community fairs. “Our portable lanes always attract attention, participation and interest and provide an opportunity to discuss bowling and hand out promotional material,” says Hendrik. Hendrik also takes great pride in his family and their involvement with the business. A date he highlighted on his bio was 1992. “This was the most important date of all,” said Hendrik, “it was when I married my wife Claudia.” Claudia has been the office manager for the three City Bowling centers and Hendrik’s distribution company, Bowl-Star, since 1988. Hendrik’s 24-year old daughter Nadine, after earning a degree in business administration, joined the company this year to support Claudia and Hendrik. Their 20-year old son Dominik is presently working with an independent company to get his business education in sales and distribution and will join the family business in 2018. Hendrik’s motto is ‘Learn with the best and from the best.’ “Never stop learning,” Hendrik professes, “and only talk about things that you know precisely, otherwise, just listen to the ones who do know.” With his quest for learning, business acumen, love for the industry, and imaginative concepts, Hendrik and his family will continue to be successful for many decades to come. ❖
Paul Lane is former Director of Marketing and Marketing Services for AMF Bowling, Inc. He has been the director of 18 AMF World Cups, an officer in national and international trade associations, and a pro bowler during a career that spans more than 60 countries and 50 years.
T E E M , T A E E T E P M O C D N A Renovations are paying off big for BPAA’s Proprietor of the Year John Losito. By Mark Miller
t its opening in 1977, Sun Valley Lanes was something special to the bowlers of Lincoln, Nebraska. The 32-lane center was the largest facility in town and the only one with AMF’s MagicScore automatic scoring system. It featured a lounge, snack bar, full pro shop, locker room, and meeting space. Plus, there was a supervised playroom for young children whose mothers were bowling in daytime women’s leagues. As times and primary ownership changed, what Sun Valley Lanes offered its customers did too. After women began returning to the workplace in droves around 1990, the 1,500-squarefoot playroom became a shared John Losito 42
meeting room, pro shop, arcade, and grill seating area. It sometimes even served as a staging area. When glow bowling became popular later in the 90s, the carpets, walls, and technology were upgraded. For nearly two decades, those were the most visual upgrades. But not long after taking over sole ownership in 2011, John Losito began envisioning something bigger. Today, that foresight has turned even the original playroom into a big moneymaker with a 20 game arcade and a redemption area. It’s the first phase of the biggest renovations in the center’s 40-year history, all prompted by Losito wanting to stay relevant. “I could see the trend in the industry,” said Losito, who was named 2017 BPAA’s Proprietor of the Year. “You stop and hear these guys when they first started launching FECs. They talked about revenue per square foot. When I started thinking about it, I wondered, ‘What are we generating out of that space?’” “For the longest time,” explained Losito, “I didn’t think it was big enough. If you’ve seen the pictures of how big some of these areas are, I’m thinking I’m going to have to take lanes out. I’m not at that point where I’m going to do that.” He was keenly observing the subtle — and not so subtle — changes that began to take over the bowling industry. He saw other continued on page 46...
PROFILE ...continued from page 42
proprietors taking big steps. Losito, who earned a degree in Business Administration with a Marketing minor from the nearby University of Nebraska in 1991, has been the center’s sole owner since 2011. As a two-time national collegiate team champion plus singles and doubles winner, he’s a proprietor who knows bowling first and entertainment second. The Elmira, NY, native started his college career at Erie Community College in Buffalo where he helped the team win the 1988 Intercollegiate Bowling Championships in Denver with a 299 game. After earning his associate’s degree, he had a choice of four schools to continue his bowling career: Saginaw Valley State University, California State University-Fresno, Wichita State University and Nebraska. “I narrowed it down to Wichita State and here,” he said. “I felt like I liked the campus better here. It was a bigger school, I knew the football team back East. I went to a small community college and wanted the full university experience. I remember watching [Nebraska bowling coach] Bill Straub on TV when I was a kid. I knew of Gordon [Vadakin, Wichita State’s bowling coach] too. It was a tough decision but ended up coming here.” Not only was he part of an IBC team title with the Cornhuskers in 1990, he tied for the singles title with Don Savant of the University of Houston and won the doubles with Chris Barnes of Wichita State in the 1991 Association of College Unions-International Championships.
He exercised a childhood dream when he tried the PBA tour full-time for two years. He competed in 20 events each in 1992 and 1993, made the top 24 seven times and finished as high as 13th twice. In the summers, he worked at the Dick Ritger Bowling Camp in Ithaca, Nt. Ritger recommended him to be national coach of the Filipino team which he did in 1994, winning a silver medal in the Asian Games. Though he had a three-year deal, he decided to return to the United States after one year. He called Neil Early, then Sun Valley’s general manager, who had told Losito that if he ever returned to Lincoln, contact him. And thus, in December 1994, Losito started his journey at the center. When it opened, Dean Rasmussen and fellow Omaha businessman Bob Kerrey — later a Nebraska governor and U.S. senator — were the general partners representing 32 co-owners. Early had worked at King Louie West Lanes in Kansas City and later became partowner. Losito bought his first shares in the center in 1998. “Neil and I were not silent partners,” Losito said. “We were making all the decisions in the sense that they came to us and said, ‘if we can get our 10 percent return, you guys do whatever you want to do. You’re the bowling guys.’ They were very good that way. They were great to work for.” In 2007, Losito and Early bought out 26 of the partners. But later in 2007, heartbreakingly, Early got leukemia and was out of service for several months. He unexpectedly died a week after being declared in remission. Business went on, albeit sadder, for three years. One day in 2010, Rasmussen and Early’s widow, Deb
PROFILE Rogers-Early, met Losito for lunch. “They said they wanted me to have it [the center].” Losito said. “Of course we’re all in tears. Deb said, ‘He always wanted you to have it. He wanted you to succeed. We’ll make you a great deal,’ which of course they did.” The deal closed in July 2011, and Losito has been sole owner ever since. “I always told people I was the exception to the rule you should never have partners because I had such great ones,” he said. “They always believed in whatever I did and [told me to] just keep doing what I’m doing.” Losito learned about the business of bowling as a youth. “I learned [about the business] growing up at Rossi Lanes in Elmira, NY. The proprietor, Frank Navone, told me, ‘John, the cash register doesn’t ring if the pins don’t recycle.’ He instilled that in me, and the leadership here [in Lincoln] did the same.” Losito started thinking about the renovations in 2012. To get ideas, he attended the IAAPA convention in Orlando and Bowl Expo. Being on the BPAA Tournament Committee allowed him the opportunity to visit places like Main Event and Dave & Busters. Losito was hesitant about taking the FEC plunge because he didn’t think the demographics in Lincoln would support it. “You go to these other places, and they’re big, with 40 to 60 arcade games,” he said. “We basically have 20. I could make substantially
Losito created a hybrid pro shop/redemption store that accommodates all types of customers, from league bowlers to casual guests.
more money if I could make it bigger.” The person who helped him pull the trigger was Andy Bartholomy, owner of the Andy B’s chain of renovated centers. One thing he learned: flexibility is crucial because today’s centers cater to both recreational and competitive bowlers. Losito worked with Joe Hinderer at Central Distributing of Omaha to design and supply the games. He followed the recommendation of several proprietor friends and hired BMI Merchandise of Lakewood, NJ, to set up the redemption area. The project started in October 2014, had a soft opening in May 2015 and was completely finished that August. “BMI Merchandise is thrilled to bring the most progressive amusement merchandise and merchandising strategy to Sun Valley Lanes,” says Dave Schwartz, vice president of sales and marketing for BMI 48
Merchandise. He adds, “Today’s bowling centers are well served to bring the trending merchandise players want to win, thereby enhancing their relevance to today’s bowlers and non bowlers alike. Sun Valley Lanes and BMI Merchandise understand and embrace this challenge.” The results have exceeded Losito’s most optimistic goals. “I was hoping for a three-year return on investment, and it’s going to beat that,” he said. “Going into it, I was going to be happy with five. I talked to some people who said I would easily get it [ROI] in two years, but I thought no way. I knew it could be three years because it’s a small arcade and my demographics are smaller.” With the success of Phase One renovations, he hopes to start on Phase Two, which will include a new front entrance and a kitchen upgrade, by 2019. Further down the road could be a major expansion of the facility into the current parking lot. Even with the renovation, Losito knows competitive bowling still must play an important role in his facility. Sun Valley has hosted events like the Special Olympics, the World Youth Championships, the USBC Intercollegiate Championships and the PWBA. Losito believes that the sport of bowling is closely tied to the success of the business of bowling. He supports these tournaments, knowing that they aren’t always good for his bottom line. They are important for the overall growth of the bowling business — not just his business. But once those events are done, the center can easily be converted back to a fun, family-friendly place. And that is smart business indeed. ❖
Mark Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and public relations specialist from Flower Mound, TX. He's the author of Bowling: America's Greatest Indoor Pastime available at Amazon.com or directly from him at email@example.com.
By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson Bowling proprietors are converting their centers into BECs, realizing that customers want a variety of activities in addition to bowling. More than 80 years ago, W. Averell Harriman, visionary chairman of the board of the Union Pacific Railroad, created a winter resort that offered not just skiing, but bowling, swimming in a heated outdoor pool, tennis, golf, fishing, shooting, iceskating, and more, a precursor to many BECs and FECs of today. Here is the story of the important part bowling played in the development of America’s first destination ski resort. In a foreword to the book, Sun Valley, a Biography, by Doug Oppenheimer and Jim Poore (published by Beatty Books, Boise, ID, 1976), W. Averell Harriman describes the history behind the founding of ski resort Sun Valley, ID.
Averell Harriman had a monopoly on rail transportation in Idaho and wanted to increase Union Pacific’s passenger service in the West. The competing Santa Fe Railroad was offering passenger service to the Grand Canyon. When Harriman discovered his banking colleagues were vacationing at ski resorts in Europe, he wondered why couldn’t skiing be popular in America too? He decided to create a destination people would want to travel to on the Union Pacific. “I thought we’d make an asset out of a liability-the snow... I thought we could start a new industry in the West,” said Harriman. In America in 1935, skiing was fairly unknown and confined to New England’s icy trails, where gloomy skies and sub zero temperatures made it hard to promote the sport, but if Harriman and his Union Pacific line could bring passengers to a blue sky, sun-kissed ski resort, he could outshine his competitors. 50
W. Averell Harriman, chairman of the board of the Union Pacific Railroad, founded Sun Valley. Harriman skiing shortly after Sun Valley's opening in 1936 on Dollar Mountain. Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort.
continued on page 54...
HISTORY ...continued from page 50
“I had skied as a boy at school, but I’d never done any real skiing,” admitted Harriman. He needed to find someone to help him find the right spot – it had to be near the rail line with dry powder, sunshine, and no wind or storms. “I employed Count Felix Schaffgotsch, a friend of mine who was well versed in European winter resorts, to search for the ideal area for a similar American resort.” Beginning in October 1935, Schaffgotsch traveled to Wyoming, Oregon, Colorado, Utah, California, and Idaho searching for America’s St. Moritz. “I received from Felix discouraging reports week after week from his explorations,” noted Harriman. Schaffgotsch liked Jackson Hole, but the state of Wyoming would not agree to keep the Teton Pass open in winter, which was necessary because the nearest rail line was in Victor, Idaho. One of Schaffgotsch’s escorts was Union Pacific area representative, 46-year-old Boise, ID, resident William J. Hynes, special agent in charge of freight and passenger service. As Felix Schaffgotsch boarded the train to Denver, preparing himself to inform Harriman that there was no ideal spot for the ski resort, he told Hynes, “If you find anything, let me know. Wire me at the Brown Palace in Denver.” Back in Boise, Hynes went to the Locker Club and drank a scotch and soda with Joseph Stemmer, director of highways for Idaho. He told Stemmer about his travels with Count Schaffgotsch and Stemmer said, “Did you look in the Hailey and Ketchum area?” “By God, no, I A shiny, yellow, sleek streamliner passenger train called The City of forgot,” Hynes remembered. Los Angeles made its maiden voyage from Grand Central Station in He immediately wired New York to Sun Valley. After transporting skiiers from New York Schaffgotsch, urging him to City to Sun Valley, its regular run would be from Chicago to LA. return to Idaho for one last Union Pacific Photograph. look. Count Schaffgotsch first viewed the Sawtooth Mountains in late January. Harriman relates, “Finally in mid-February (1936), I got a message: ‘I’ve found it! Come and see for yourself!’ What he’d found was glorious–powdered snow over open slopes, with Bald Mountain close at hand. By unanimous agreement the place was called Sun Valley. It named itself.” In March, the Union Pacific acquired land to build the lodge. Gilbert Stanley Underwwood, an architect from Los Angeles, designed the Ahwahnee in Yosemite and the Sun Valley Lodge. Underwood was influenced by architect Mary Colter who designed the El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon. The lodge was made of reinforced concrete. The wood look was created by impressing wood grain into the concrete and staining it brown. Most laborers worked for 43 cents an hour and board. Carpenters made 65 cents to 75 cents an hour in the summer of 1936. “Construction started in May, and the lodge was opened for Christmas that year, 1936,” stated Harriman. The 220 room, $1.5 million resort opened on December 21, 1936, but there was no snow until January 9. It didn’t matter. The guests were ready to party and there was still plenty to do. Public relations whiz Steve Hannagan, who had transformed a sand dune into Miami 54
Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper on Dollar Mountain around 1941. Photo courtesy of Sun Valley Resort.
Beach, was hired to handle the resort’s marketing efforts. Hannagan did not ski, but promoted images of skiers getting snow tans with their shirts off. Jim Curran, an engineer for the Union Pacific, once helped build equipment for loading bananas on fruit boats in the tropics. To Curran, transporting a skier up a hill seemed like a similar problem. His design for a string of single chairs on a cable conveyor belt was tested at UP’s headquarters in Omaha in the summer of 1936. A chair was attached to a moving pickup truck. At first they tested it with a man on skis standing on straw, but found that when he used roller skates, they discovered the best speed to run the chairlift was 450 feet a minute. Sun Valley’s chair lifts, built by Union Pacific engineers, were the first in the world and whisked skiers to the top of the mountain for only 25 cents a ride. “Austrian ski instructors were imported to found the Sun Valley Ski School,” stated Harriman. “Challenger Inn, designed as an Austrian mountain village, followed the next year. Instead of the European type of funicular from bottom to top, we developed the three-phase chairlift, which added greatly to the versatility of skiing on extraordinary Bald Mountain.” Movie stars, politicians, and celebrities 56
vacationed in Sun Valley from Marilyn Monroe, (whose 1956 film Bus Stop, was made in the area) to Gary Cooper, John Wayne and Lucille Ball. Some, like Claudette Colbert, who starred in the first feature made in Sun Valley called I Met Him in Paris (1937), enjoyed skiing, while others like Gerald Ford played golf, and Ernest Hemingway enjoyed hunting and fishing. Bowling was one of Sun Valley’s featured activities from the beginning. Six lanes were installed in the basement of the lodge in 1936. Bowling has been enjoyed by Sun Valley visitors, from commoners to royalty. His Imperial Majesty Reza Shah Pahlavi, Shahinshan of Iran, paid his first visit to Sun Valley in December 1949. “The Shah made his first acquaintance with bowling and rolled 173 on his first line,” writes Dorice Taylor in her book Sun Valley.* Sun Valley’s manager Pat Rogers advised sports director Joe Burgy, “Let him beat you.” “Here I am rolling like mad and this guy, a complete beginner, is beating me every frame,” related Burgy. The Shah enjoyed the sport so much, he ordered a bowling alley sent to Iran. “On his way out of the game room, he stopped to shoot a game of pool with one of the pin boys,” relates Taylor. The bowling alley has been updated since 1936, with automatic scoring from Brunswick. It features video games and a pinball machine with a Sun Valley theme. “Sun Valley achieved its objective of encouraging the development of ski
Anne Lindley and Ben Young’s wedding party bowls at the Sun Valley Lodge. Photo courtesy of Dev Khalsa Photography.
resorts in many parts of the west, and Idaho has the pioneer resort it is justly proud of,” concluded Harriman. “My hopes have come true.” Whenever you choose to visit, the timeless sport of bowling is always in season. ❖ * Sun Valley by Dorice Taylor, copyright 1980, p.187. Dorice Taylor wrote for the Sun Valley publicity office and became director in 1955. Pamela Kleibrink Thompson lives in Idaho. In addition to writing, she is a career coach and scenario role player for peace officer training. Pamela worked as a production manager on the Emmy Award-winning animated series The Simpsons, where she bowled regularly with members of the crew. She speaks on career issues at conferences all over the world. You can reach Pamela at PamRecruit@q.com.
The Eickholz family comes to the rescue in Metropolis, IL. By Mark Miller
ot far from the statue of legendary superhero Superman sits the lone bowling center in his adopted hometown of Metropolis, IL. The building, now named SuperBowl Family Entertainment Center after the Man of Steel, has occupied the space on East 8th Street since the early 1970s. But it quite possibly would not be around today if not for a civic-minded area family. Local businessman Lindell Eickholz and his non-bowling clan, including wife Kathryn and sons Jeff and Jim, stepped up to buy the former Bob’s Bowl out of bankruptcy. They spent $1.3 million and a yearand-a-half refurbishing everything except the 16 lanes, and reopened it to the community in June 2014. “Metropolis had too many closed buildings, and we wanted to make it something nice,” the 79-year-old patriarch said. “We just didn’t want another vacant building, and the boys were willing to come with me. These two guys [sons Jeff and Jim] are the ones who make it what it is. I had the damn idea [to buy it], but I didn’t have the willpower and strength to do it. Jeff and Jim are the ones who made this thing. Of course we wouldn’t have spent nearly the amount of money. These guys know how to do things.” The elder Eickholz spent 14 years as a dentist before leaving his practice to buy the first of three automobile dealerships in 1978, now managed by youngest son Jeff. Oldest son Jim is a primary care doctor and collectively they own a profitable
warehouse converted from a skating rink. The center had been closed for about six months when they purchased it in January 2013. Jim said they looked at about a half-dozen other centers throughout the region to get business ideas before Chad Beyer, owner of I-5, provided the architectural designs. Then the trio hired Michael Lawson, a local general contractor with whom they had previously worked to oversee the project. Also instrumental was Doug Cottom, whose father Ross originally built the facility, plus the matching Ross Cottom Lanes in Harrisburg. “We wanted it to be more of a family fun center,” Jim said. “We wanted to incorporate things for all ages to do.” Utilizing a combination of QubicaAMF equipment, items Manager Angela Johnson with owners Jim, Jeff and Lindell Eickholz
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from Classic Products, and local materials including carpeting, everyone went to work. Among the major changes were removing all walls and ceiling tiles, and filling in what had been a pit of pool tables in the middle of the center to create an open, brighter, cleaner look.
Since reopening, the center has hosted up to six winter and two summer leagues serving a small community of about 6,500 people, and a county of approximately 60,000. Eight miles away across the Ohio River are another 100,000 people anchored by neighbor Paducah, KY. So far the entire community has responded well to what the Eickholz family has done. Even Superman and his superhero friends came to bowl during the city’s annual Superman Celebration weekend last June. “It’s been received very well,” Lindell said. “Nearly every day I get a compliment.” “The kids need something to do around here, and it gives them an opportunity,” Jim added. “We’re a very conservative community, and you are seeing a lot of things all over the Midwest starting to move away from the conservative communities and going toward the big malls,” Jeff said. “You keep seeing people moving away from the city [Metropolis] and, to Dad’s point, he didn’t want another abandoned building. He didn’t want something that wasn’t serving the community.” “And I think the general public has perceived it that way too,” Lindell said. Part of the success can be attributed to the five gaming machines allowed by the state of Illinois for any business selling alcohol. The bar 64
and pool areas also do well. But most of the success can be attributed to the work of 14 employees led by Angela Johnson, the manager since 2016. She started as a cashier when the Eickholz’s bought the facility. Johnson wasn’t a bowler, having only previously visited the bar to play pool. But she and her team quickly learned the business and have ensured smooth operations, since the Eickholzes spend much of their time at their other businesses. “They’re really, really good to the people who work for them,” Johnson said. And really good pillars of the community which the
Metropolis Chamber of Commerce duly noted by honoring the Eickholz family in 2014. And just like the Man of Steel, the Eickholz family put on the cape of courage and success followed. The true heroes of Metropolis have saved the day! ❖
Mark Miller is a freelance writer, editor, and public relations specialist from Flower Mound, TX. He's the author of Bowling: America's Greatest Indoor Pastime available at Amazon.com.
SHOWCASE TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION
BES X, QubicaAMF’s bowler entertainment system, is changing the bowler experience. The introduction and integration of the exclusive CenterPunch Deck Lighting and Conqueror QPad enhances the overall experience BES X provides bowlers. With over 165 million games bowled in over 800 centers worldwide, BES X is the only system on the market that is tested, trusted and proven to drive real business results. Learn more at www.qubicaamf.com.
BEVERAGE CONTROL WEBSITE
AlcoholControls.com is a website dedicated to bar managers who want to increase revenues and decrease expenses. It provides affordable products that help eliminate bartender overpouring, cash skimming, product theft, and free drinks. FREE tools include a Loss Analysis Calculator, Potential Pour Cost Calculator and a section, “News You Can Use,” stocked with articles written for beverage managers. Type in coupon code BOTOX for 10% off already discounted prices. To speak with the Bar Profit Guys, call (800) 285-2337.
TOUCH SCREEN CONSOLE
Steltronic introduces its 19-inch, commercial grade touch screen console, a replacement for existing keypad consoles. “We elected to use a commercial grade touch screen instead of a personal use tablet, as we believe you need industrial strength hardware for public use.” This new console features all of the basic needs for interaction with the scoring system, plus built in Facebook posting which gives your center the advertising it deserves. We are YOUR bowling center management specialists. Visit Steltronic at Nashville Bowl Expo Booth 640. (800) 942-5939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
VIRTUAL REWARDS CARDS
Mobile Bowling Rewards is the affordable solution to tracking and rewarding customer visits. eBowl.biz’s virtual punch card includes rewards, push notifications, customer analytics, a custom app, and more. Pricing starts at just $49/mo. Details at www.MobileBowlingRewards.com or call (541) 549-0999. Mobile Bowling Rewards is brought to you by eBowl.biz, the industry leader in digital marketing.
KEYLESS LOCKER SOLUTIONS
The Locker Network specializes in secure, keyless electronic locker solutions for clients worldwide. They are unmatched in quality, security and industry experience and are the original innovators of RFID, barcode, electronic and floating locker systems. Their clients rely on them to enhance their guest experience with a simple to use, reliable and secure locker system that maximizes location revenue with minimal on-site management. Visit Booth 835 at Bowl Expo, or get a free proposal at www.thelockernetwork.com/proposal.
JUNE 5 BPA Pennsylvania BOD Meeting Capital Building, Harrisburg www.pabowling.com
5-16 A-2 Pinsetter Training QC FEC Moline, IL Frank Miroballi (540) 325-7684 www.BrunswickA2training.com
8-9 TrainerTainment Sales Conference BPAA Intl Training Campus (817) 886-4840 email@example.com
18-22 BPAA International Bowl Expo Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center Nashville, TN www.bowlexpo.com Boot Camp Digital Marketing Colorado BPA Chris Gallas (817) 385-8471 www.bowlcolorado.com
11-13 BPAA Bowling University School Bowling Center Mgmt BCA Wisconsin Daleâ€™s Weston Lanes & Mountain Bay Conf. Ctr. Weston, WI (262) 783-4292 16-18 BCA Michigan 71st Annual Convention & Trade Show Radisson Hotel, Lansing www.michiganbowl.com 27-29 BPAC/GA Convention Sea Trail Golf Resort Sunset Beach, NC Beth Smiril (336) 339-1314 firstname.lastname@example.org 28-30 Coaches Workshop Kegel Training Center Lake Wales, FL kegeltrainingcenter.com
AUGUST 1-2 LaserTAG360 Indianapolis, IN Russ Van Natta (317) 834-4770 www.lasertag360.com 7-18 A-2 Pinsetter Training QC FEC Moline, IL Frank Miroballi (540) 325-7684 www.BrunswickA2training.com
JULY 10-21 A-2 Pinsetter Training QC FEC Moline, IL Frank Miroballi (540) 325-7684 www.BrunswickA2training.com 66
IBI June 2017
SEPTEMBER 14-15 TrainerTainment Guest Services Conference BPAA Intl Training Campus (817) 886-4840 email@example.com
25-26 Florida State Bowling Assoc. Annual Meeting & Golf Villas of Grand Cypress Orlando, FL www.flstateba.com
26-27 LASERTRON Conference Lasertron Entertainment Center Rochester, NY Ann Kessler (305) 257-3930 firstname.lastname@example.org
OCTOBER 23 Kentucky BPA Annual Meeting For info: Jack McCarthy (502) 558-3450 email@example.com
23-25 East Coast Bowling Centers Convention Kalahari Resorts & Convention Pocono Mountains, PA www.eastcoast bowl.com
NOVEMBER 13-17 IAAPA Attractions Expo Orange County Convention Center Orlando www.IAAPA.org/IAAPAAttractionsExpo
BPAA One-Day Management Boot Camps Available to state associations & multi-unit centers Contact Kelly Bednar (817) 385-8462 Kelly@bpaa.com
CLASSIFIEDS MECHANIC WANTED CANOGA PARK, CA: Full-time B mechanic or experienced PinChaser wanted, prefer Brunswick trained, for 32-lane house. Good compensation & benefits. Send resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. IMMEDIATE OPENING for a full- or part-time mechanic. 12 lanes AMF 82-70 pinsetters & Qubica scoring in San Francisco, CA. Salary and benefits commensurate with experience. Send resume to email@example.com or call (510) 685-8079. HEAD MECHANIC for 82-30 pinsetters in South Florida. Will help to relocate. Contact Blind Box #051617 at (818) 789-2695 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EQUIPMENT FOR SALE Six-lane complete package from our house to yours. Steltronic WINS scoring, Elex & SuperElex, all components, flat screen conversion or monitors, will separate. AMF HPL & Brunswick Anvil panels, foul line forward. Powerlifts. B2000 hood/rack. Brunswick A2 pinsetters, refurbished. Can install. Knotritellc@gmail.com.
CLASSIFIEDS MINIATURE GOLF COURSES Indoor/Outdoor. Portable/Pre-Fab. Black Light/Traditional/Pro Putter. 202 Bridge Street Jessup, PA 18434 570-489-8623 www.minigolfinc.com
LOCKER KEYS FAST! All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: email@example.com TOLL FREE
SELL YOUR CENTER
CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT FOR SALE
FOR SALE: USED FRAMEWORX SEATING. Ball returns & hoods, modwalls, swivel tables and more. Mickey Cogan (310) 378-2265 or gablehouseusedbowlingequipment.com.
LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
Kegel Kustodian Plus. Great condition. Call (208) 344-2695.
PRO SHOP TRAINING. Classes always forming. Jayhawk Bowling Supply (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
For REDLINE FOUL LIGHTS, call 1 (888) 569-7845 or visit Bowlingtrader.com, your FREE bowling buy and sell site.
NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
APPRAISALS: LARRY DOBBS MAI, ASA. (214) 674-8187. Bowlingvaluations@yahoo.com.
REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
AMF • BRUNSWICK EQUIPMENT COMPLETE PACKAGES WORLDʼS LARGEST NEW – USED SPARE PARTS INVENTORY ALL AMF BUMPER PARTS, XS Q-BUMP, DURABOWL AND GEN II IN STOCK
Danny & Daryl Tucker Tucker Bowling Equipment Co. 609 N.E. 3rd St. Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-4018 Fax (806) 995-4767
Bowling Parts, Inc. P.O. Box 801 Tulia, Texas 79088 Call (806) 995-3635 Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Felix Erickson Company Inc. Strike Zone © Family of Industry Leading Lane Products Strike Zone KB Lane Cleaner 5 gal case $ 95.00 Strike Zone Next Generation L.C. 5 gal/case $ 105.00 Strike Zone SuperStar L.C. 5 gal/case $ 120.00 Envi-Cide II Disinfectant/Shoe Aerosol $ 89.95/case Solve-It Orange All Purpose Cleaner $ 69.95/case ®
Exclusive Phenolic Kickback Plates Front 15” x 33” Rear 19” x 23 ¾” $ 89.00 each (includes screws and instructions) FESI Solve-It Ball Wheel Liner @ $90.00 /roll 070-011-905 Waffle Distributor Belt w/ lacing $58.00 each Toll Free (800) 445-1090 | P (609) 267-2833 | F (609) 267-466 www.festrikezone.com | Resurfacing-Repairs-Supplies 70
SERVICES AVAILABLE ATTENTION AMF 82-30 OWNERS! Call us for ANY 82-30 questions. Specializing in motors, guaranteed chassis (58-50s and 65-25s), service calls, extractions & rebuilds. BUY, SELL & TRADE. References available. Call Krew Bowling Supply (330) 953-8339. Your lanes needing TLC? We got you! Full sand; screen; recoat, approach only. Lane resurfacing. Knotritellc@gmail.com Custom home installations & complete packages. Let us bowl you away. Tenpinartisans.com/Knotritellc@gmail.com. Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
CENTERS FOR SALE NEBRASKA: 6-lane center & bar in Plainview, NE. Turnkey business. Contact Brandon Myers, Commercial Realty Group, (402) 843-0347. MISSISSIPPI: 20-lane Brunswick center in Jackson, includes real estate. Bad location but really cheap. Great potential. Call Sonny @ Mars & Steel, office (601) 982-2828; cell (601) 954-5527. SW WISCONSIN: 10-lane center, includes bar & grill. New metal roof and paint. Wellestablished leagues. $250,000 OBO. (608) 341-9056.
SELL YOUR CENTER
CLASSIFIEDS PROPRIETORS WITH AMF 82-70 S.S. & M.P. MACHINES Save $$ on Chassis & P.C. Board Exchange & Repair! A reasonable alternative for Chassis and P.C. Board Exchanges MIKE BARRETT Call for Price List
Tel: (714) 871-7843 â€¢ Fax: (714) 522-0576
CENTER OR EQPT.
(818) 789-2695 IBI
noopy is our every man, our every bowler. Can you relate? He will not be denied. He steps forth and meets the line. Everything else is the ritual; the determination; the focus; the execution; the anticipation; the fear; and then... the moment. What could be better than a strike and a happy dance?
BOWLING IS AWESOME!
- Patty Heath