THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING
PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager firstname.lastname@example.org Skype: scottfrager
6 ISSUE AT HAND
Playing with the Legends
Al Blough’s Learning Lab New thoughts on how to convert open play bowlers to league bowlers.
By Scott Frager
By Albert Blough and Fred Kaplowitz
32 FEATURE Mr. 700 Soulful ‘Strikefest’ carries on the humanitarian work of Motown’s Fuller Gordy.
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
46 REMEMBER WHEN 1951 Jane Russell By Patty Heath
38 Showcase 41 Classifieds
22 COVER STORY Welcome Home!
Jim Goodwin Patty Heath Fred Kaplowitz Paul Lane Mark Miller Robert Sax
By Robert Sax
By Jim Goodwin
EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher
Coach Bill Straub leads the Cornhuskers’ women’s bowling team through example. Nothing fancy, just the basics. And the results are amazing.
By Mark Miller
OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Fred Groh
By Patty Heath
Small town, family-owned bowling centers have been a gathering place for generations. And it looks like the trend will continue.
• The Bowltech Group acquires Metro Bowling Supply AS, Norway • Kegel announces change in ownership. • Clinton stumps at Iowa bowling center. • Bowling is featured in two Super Bowl ads. • GoBowling.com hits the racetrack… again.
Fundamentally, He’s All Heart
ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber
HOTLINE: 888-424-2695 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 2015, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
MEMBER AND/OR SUPPORTER OF:
THE ISSUE AT HAND
Playing with the Legends As I was reading the well-crafted story in this month’s issue by Fred Kaplowitz, “Al Blough’s Learning Lab,” my mind began to wonder what it would be like to roll a few games with some of the legendary bowlers of yesteryear? Being a terrible bowler myself, I also began to wonder what if I really had some talent? Could I really go head-to-head with some of the greats? And, would I be ready to compete with the very same equipment and conditions that they had back in the day? Answers to the age-old questions regarding modern bowling technology and what role science has played in the slow “death” of competitive league bowling has been pondered ever since the words “coretechnology” and “reactive coverstocks” entered our industry’s lexicon. Regardless of where one stands on the topic, we can all agree that the genie is out of the bottle and he ain’t going back. This month, we feature a story about one man, Al Blough, who has turned his successful bowling centers into real-life learning labs
attempting to scientifically discover what happens to bowlers’ competitive drive when high tech bowling balls and moderate volume lane conditions are removed from the equation. Blough’s findings may come as a surprise to many of us who own, manage or operate bowling centers. And, whether one believes in the results of this experiment and the scientific method used, one thing should be clear to all of us: Here, we find a man driven by passion for the game and a endless spirit of discovery. His work should provide inspiration to all of us to seek answers by asking questions. Blough’s work may not provide the definitive answer for what is ailing our industry, but it certainly serves as a launching pad for more questions. I’m pretty sure I know exactly how I would fare facing off with the bowling greats regardless of using today’s equipment on today’s lane conditions. However, one question that will forever remain unanswered: Given the opportunity, would the bowling legends of yesterday embrace today’s technology as they competed to glory?
– SCOTT FRAGER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR firstname.lastname@example.org
4Your Bowler of the Month Mildred Bowie is no longer a nonagenarian! On January 19, she became a centenarian and is still bowling with the Golden Nuggets at Circle Bowl, Baton Rouge, LA. Bowie started bowling 47 years ago and has been bowling for three hours a week for the past few decades. She says it keeps her young. Eloquent and sharp, here’s her secret: “Go to church, watch what you eat…be light with the salt.” Bowie goes on, “Be active and have fun and enjoy life. I like interaction with people. I taught school for 36 years. I have [tons of friends] and, naturally, my friends are younger, and I have a very loving granddaughter and first cousin. Life is really an adventure.” Mildred Bowie Besides bowling, Bowie, who still drives, plays bridge, has a Pokeno club, and works in her church. She’s pretty busy for a 100-year-old. Advice for all of us young ones? “Never forget things can always be worse, and don’t indulge in pity parties.”
Do you have a special bowler at your center we can highlight? Email Patty at email@example.com. 6
SHORTS A new year brings new opportunities for centers to support their communities and the good works of associations and charity groups working with them. The Greene Community Health Foundation hosted its 6th annual Bowling for Babies fundraiser. The venue was BeaverVu Bowl in Beavercreek, OH. Greene Community Health Foundation provides health and wellness assistance to families in need throughout Greene County with an emphasis on raising awareness of infant mortality through education about safe sleep practices and the value of breastfeeding for newborns and infants. Bowling for Jersey was organized by Wags 2 Wishes Animal Rescue and held at Crest Hill Lanes in Crest Hill, IL. The goal was to raise funds to help cover the cost of therapy for puppy Jersey who suffered a fibrocartilaginous embolism which left her back legs paralyzed. While therapy helped her walk again, she is still unable to wag her tail or relieve her bladder or bowels. TP Lanes, Bellefontaine, OH, was the place-to-be for the Lions Club’s annual District 13-E bowling tournament. This event raises money for the prevention of teen suicide. Another Lions Club, Jordaness Lions, held a bowling fundraiser at Louisville Lanes in Shakopee, MN. The event raised more than $4,000, which will be used to support local organizations, such as the Jordan Food Shelf, the Minnesota Diabetes Association and the Lions Disaster Relief. In addition, a participant, Nick Holicky, bowled a perfect game. Sounds like a perfect event. What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLANS NEW LOCATION HeadPinz is expanding its brand to Naples, FL. Bowling Management Associates (B.M.A.), parent company for HeadPinz, is working on plans for a multi-million-dollar expansion to the current Woodside Lanes. Pat Ciniello, president of B.M.A., said, “The transformation to the HeadPinz brand will be a stunning display of both high-tech games and other entertainment features that are unlike anything in the Naples area.” This expansion continues the corporate decision made more than five years ago when Ciniello purchased the former Friendship Lanes in Cape Coral and converted it into the early prototype of the HeadPinz concept. The overwhelming response to the flagship center in Fort Myers definitely influenced the decision to move forward with the Naples project. 8
PEOPLEWATCHING Intercard, Inc. has recently brought on board Lynda Brotherton as marketing director, who will manage branding, advertising, PR, web content and sales materials, as well as supporting the company’s sales managers Lynda Brotherton operating on six continents. Brotherton comes with a varied and impressive resume. Most recently, she was an executive producer at Avatar Studios in St. Louis and continues to serve as a political commentator for “The Allman Report” on KDNL-ABC30 TV in St. Louis. As a political operative, she earned a reputation as a connector, building strong relationships across the state on both sides of the aisle. She has experience both in front of and behind the camera. She served as state director for the March of Dimes in Missouri. Brotherton attended the American University in Cairo and the University of New Mexico where she earned a degree in television journalism. “By bringing Lynda to the team,” said CEO Scott Sherrod, “we add more international perspective to our marketing efforts, as well as a proven spokesperson and business manager.” Eric Pierson has joined the Kegel team as technical support manager, giving 24/7 support to bowling centers worldwide. In addition, he will, with several other employees, provide lane maintenance support at tournaments and championship events on behalf of Kegel. Pierson has been involved Eric Pierson in the bowling industry since the age of 17, working as a junior instructor. For several years, he was a contractor on the lane maintenance crew for tournaments including the Open Championships and Junior Gold. During his time with USBC, 2007 to 2014, he served as the director of tournaments. Gus Falgien, Kegel VP of sales, shared, “People like Eric Pierson aren’t easy to come by. His unique understanding of lane machines makes him the perfect fit to join our team. We feel he will be a great asset.”
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS Round 1, a Japanese chain of FECs, is on the move again. This time, Concord, CA, Sunvalley mall, is the location, the first in the East Bay Northern California area and scheduled for a June opening. Round 1 will offer billiards, karaoke, darts, bowling, Ping-Pong and arcade games, including many from Japan that aren’t available elsewhere in the U.S.
East Windsor, NJ, has its bowling center back. East Windsor Bowl, upgraded and renovated, has reopened. Owned by Vijay and Mukesh Papaiya, the center features 24 lanes, large screen TVs, an arcade and a fully stocked bar with a dinner menu.
Cool Springs, TN, is looking forward to welcoming a 25,000-squarefoot bowling center, Kings Bowl, which is part of Kings Bowl America. The center will open in April and include a restaurant, three bars, 16 bowling lanes, a four-lane private bowling room, a patio with fire pit, and a gaming room with billiards, shuffleboard, foosball, air hockey and more.
WATCH IOWA CENTER WELCOMES CLINTON Adel Family Fun Center in Adel, IA, was a caucus event spot for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Not new to these kinds of meetings, in 2008, during her first presidential run, she said, “We need more bowling. Everybody needs to go bowling.” This time round, she gave an hour-long campaign speech while standing in front of the lanes but declined to play. One reason for that might be her memory of challenging Obama to a bowl-off in 2008, during an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Then she missed every single pin on her first try, and she only knocked down one pin on her second try. Probably a good decision to just talk.
BOWLING IS ALWAYS PART OF THE PUZZLE Set ‘Em Up Lanes, Griffith, IN, is old school, circa 1970s, with bench seating and no auto scoring, which was the consensus of a large portion of the customer base. One of the 21st century accommodations is synthetic lanes. The newest addition will be the restaurant opening, with eight large flat-screen TVs, à la a sports bar. A little new is all right.
2017 will see two unusual entertainment venues as part of a $230 million Pinecrest mixed-use development project in Orange Village, OH. Silverspot Cinemas will bring movie going to a new level with luxurious leather seats and an upscale restaurant. Pinstripes will feature bocce, 16 lanes of bowling and an Italian/American themed restaurant and bar.
With two candlepin bowling centers in Westbrook, ME, one would think that is enough. However, Tod Lyter plans to open a 14-lane candlepin center, along with indoor bocce ball courts and an upscale restaurant, this spring. His ace in the hole? Lyter is working on a computer-driven pinsetter which he has developed. He will test it in his new center before manufacturing it to sell. The description is under wraps. “It’s the first time someone will be building a new candlepin bowling center, that I know of, in the last 20 years,” Lyter said.
One of the biggest sporting events in the U.S. and possibly the world is the Super Bowl. Advertisers spend big bucks to get their messages out to viewers. Finding the right vehicle is very important. Breo, provider of asthma medications and inhalers, used bowling to highlight its product. Pfizer’s Advil, pain relief medication, also knew where to go to sell its product to the masses. Again, bowling was there to help. Bowling works as the common denominator for people everywhere.
Editor’s Note In the February issue of IBI, an error was made in the cover story, “Competition in the Cloud,” which dealt with fantasy and virtual sports. Nevada, the corporate home of Rolltech, was included in the list of states not allowing Action Bowling; the correct states should be Alaska, Arizona, Delaware and Michigan. We regret any confusion this may have caused our readers and Rolltech. Please contact Rich Belsky at (702) 467-5862 or email email@example.com for information regarding Rolltech or Action Bowling.
ß BITS & PIECES ß ß ß USBC Dues
USBC Convention and Annual Meeting is scheduled for April 2629 at The Orleans in Las Vegas. One of the proposals to be discussed and voted on, submitted by David P. Lewis and supported by the USBC board of directors, is raising the national dues ceiling from $10 to $15. This would be the first increase in ten years. The delegates at the convention will have the final word.
GoBowling.com and Racing, Again
GoBowling.com and Kansas Speedway have announced a partnership for the May 7 GoBowling.com 400, Kansas Speedway’s annual May NASCAR Sprint Cup Series night race. The agreement gives GoBowling.com naming rights to the race, as well as extensive signage throughout Kansas Speedway and the rights to execute onsite and online promotional activations. John Harbuck, Strike Ten Entertainment president, said, “We will use the race as a platform to remind people what a great game bowling is for all ages and drive them to our website where they can find bowling centers near them, as well as connect with us via social media.”
Bowling To Be Televised
USBC has reached an agreement with CBS Sports Network to televise 23 major championship bowling events in 2016 and 2017, highlighted by the U.S. Open, as well as 13 telecasts of the PWBA Tour. New to the television package in 2016 will be coverage of the USA Bowling Championships, a youth-team program with regional tournaments culminating in a national championship event. Telecasts begin May 10 with the Intercollegiate Championships.
70th BVL VA Tournament
The 70th BVL VA Bowling Tournament, an annual event that encourages recuperating veterans to get involved in a fun and challenging activity, begins March 1 and runs through March 31. It is open to all veterans connected with the VA Medical Center system and is coordinated through recreation therapists on site at the facilities. Bowling is often utilized by recreation therapists as it is adaptable to most skill levels and physical limitations. Bath (NY) VA Medical Center will be defending its 2015 title, First Place Champions in the Inpatient Division. The tournament was first introduced in 1947 for returning WW II vets and held on the White House bowling lanes with President Truman on hand to confer awards. Winners of this year’s tournament will be announced in May. 12
WHEN HELP IS REALLY NEEDED
KEGEL LLC ANNOUNCES CHANGE IN OWNERSHIP
Riverbend Bowl, Corunna, MI, has stepped up to help 16-year-old Brendan Brown who is battling cancer. Brown has been a bowler since he was a little boy. He was ten years old when he threw his first 200 game and, at 16, held a 223 average. In 2014, he was diagnosed with cancer in his leg which quickly spread to his lungs. The battle continued, but in July 2015, he lost his right leg. Brown found himself really challenged as he also lost his father and his longtime bowling coach and friend. Ernie Tilson, who works at Riverbend, met Brown at a tournament at the center, where Brown won his division, and learned about the hardships Brown was going through. Tilson, who had his own battle with cancer 20 years ago, came up with the idea of a 9-pin, no-tap tournament fundraiser, which was held Feb. 7, to help with medical bills. The goal was to raise $10,000 to help Brown’s family, who recently learned the cancer may have returned to his lungs. “God throws us all curve balls and sometimes we have to choose whether to take a strike [or] hit them out of the park, and I try to hit every single one out of the park,” Brown was quoted on WJRT-TV.
Kegel LLC, founded in 1981 and based in Lake Wales, FL, announced a change in company ownership. Linda Davis, cofounder and wife of company founder John Davis, has redeemed her share of ownership in the LLC, leaving the Mitchell family the sole shareholders. Members of the Mitchell family have held a minority interest since 2003. Jonathan Mitchell, managing member of Kegel LLC, says he is looking forward to continuing his work with Kegel. “I initially invested in Kegel because it had a unique strategy, a strong team of employees, and was led by a man unlike any I have ever known [John Davis].” Mitchell has named Chris Chartrand, formerly Kegel LLC president, as the new CEO. Chartrand joined Kegel in 1999 and was instrumental in creating the sales and marketing division. During his recent years as Kegel president, Chartrand also served as BBIA president and has continued his professional education at the University of Florida, earning his MBA this April. The retention of the tenured management team includes Larry Klemme, CFO; Dennis Sheirs, VP of chemicals; and Mark David, VP of R&D. Chartrand said, “Our management team has spent many years working with Jonathan Mitchell; we can attest to his business acumen and keen understanding of Kegel’s values.”
THE BOWLTECH GROUP ACQUIRES METRO BOWLING SUPPLY AS, NORWAY Bowltech has acquired Metro Bowling Supply AS in Norway from the company’s original owners, Tom Inghorn and Ivar Hoff. It was announced by Hans Krol, CEO of the Bowltech Group headquartered in Made, The Netherlands. “Norway is a great addition to our Scandinavian operation,” said Krol, “and already we are receiving a positive feedback from Norwegian Hans Krol customers, with orders beginning to roll in through our online webshop.” Ulf Hämnäs, who has been involved in many aspects of the bowling business for 25 years, the last nine with Metro Bowling, will manage the new division, Bowltech Norway AS, and also Bowltech Sweden AB, from the new Oslo sales office. “I am personally very pleased to have Ulf on board, and I am convinced he will successfully develop the Ulf Hämnäs Norwegian market together with us and do great 14
things with the team in Sweden,” said Claus Roed, the general manager for Bowltech’s Scandinavian and German operations. “The Norwegian market will be served similarly to the Danish market, meaning we have a sales office in Oslo but all deliveries will be shipped from our centralized warehouse in Sweden directly to the Claus Roed customer,” added Roed. “This procedure has proven to be very efficient for Denmark and we are convinced it will work equally well for Norway.” The Bowltech Group, founded in 1986 and headquartered in Made, The Netherlands, is a full-line supplier of capital equipment, aftermarket and consumer products with distribution centers and sales offices in Germany, the U.K. and Sweden, and additional sales offices in France, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. For more information, contact: Paul Lane firstname.lastname@example.org
HE'S ALL HEART
Coach Bill Straub leads the Cornhuskers' women's bowling team through example. Nothing fancy, just the basics. And the results are amazing. By Jim Goodwin
hroughout his celebrated career as a top bowler and one of the best bowling coaches in the world, University of Nebraska women’s head bowling coach Bill Straub has always believed that understanding the basic fundamentals of the sport is what makes great champions. You won’t see Husker players making ball changes every other frame, trying to find a quick solution on the lanes. There is a reason for that. “I teach our players that their focus should be on managing body movements,” said Straub. “I view bowling as any other sport. Our players are athletes who just happen to be bowlers. What we can do to make the ball the most accurate, the most powerful, and at the same time have a game that can be repeated without a lot of physical and mental strain. If we can get those things together, we will be okay. What that really means is that you need to walk straight, swing straight, and follow through straight, regardless of the ball. If we can learn to do those things, we will have a pretty good chance in a local league or on the pro tour, depending on how much we practice and how dedicated we are.” At 6’5”, Straub was one of the biggest and strongest players on the PBA tour in the 70s, but he was not considered a power player by today’s standards. He was able to make a living by developing a basic game that relied on fundamentals. He does not find fault with any of the power players on today’s tour, but as the coach of women’s teams, he is happy that almost all of the top women players and many of the men can still be successful with basically the same techniques that great bowlers have had since bowling became an Paul Klempa, the Cornhuskers organized sport. women’s assistant coach.
Bill Straub, head coach of the University of Nebraska women’s bowling team.
A purist at heart, Straub still believes that the latest and greatest new bowling balls should not be the primary focus of the sport. “I am still on Bill Taylor’s page when it comes to equipment,” he says. “We try to make the equipment augment as best we can what a player can do throwing it [and] not be the dependent source where you are thinking ‘if I had a different ball I will play better.’” Straub teaches his players to study the games of players with good fundamentals to make improvements, and describes hall of famer David Ozio as the best fundamental player of all time. “There is no second place, at least on the right side of the lane,” he says. “Parker Bohn is a close [second place] on the left side. Sometimes we get players who don’t have the physical blessings as Ozio does, and we have to make adjustments. But when we start each year with our team, I am looking for a 12-pack of ‘Ozioettes’ every year.”
Results Speak For Themselves
If anyone is thinking about arguing with Straub’s philosophy or challenging his belief that fundamentals still work in today’s world of exotic bowling balls sometimes rolled with two hands, that challenger should take a close look at the Nebraska record first: 12 national championships; two national 10-pin Coach of the Year awards; seven NTCA Collegiate Bowlers of the Year; 27 bowlers who have a combined 58 All American team awards; and most recently, the 2015 NCAA National Championship nationally televised on ESPN. Nebraska has not ranked lower than 7th among the top 25 teams under Straub’s leadership since bowling became a varsity sport in 1997. A couple of the “Ozioettes” Straub describes are
PROFILE former Nebraska stars Diandra Asbaty and Shannon Pluhowsky. Both were All American and MVP players on the Husker team, and both have solid games that have made them two of the best professional bowlers in the world today. And it just so happens that both are also outstanding coaches in their own right. "I learned most of what I know about bowling from Coach Straub,” said Asbaty. “Because of his influence, I've developed a passion for coaching myself that I hope will inspire my students as much as he inspired me." “I learned a lot about my bowling individually while bowling for Nebraska, as well as how to compete on a team,” said Pluhowsky. “He is someone I still call and am able to talk to about anything. He has helped me make decisions involving my bowling career since Nebraska and he is someone I will call for advice at anytime.” “If you are looking for the best female bowler today,” said Straub, “you have to consider Shannon Phuhowsky, and she was nice enough to come to Nebraska. We also have to mention Diandra. In 2001, she was named Nebraska Sports Female Athlete of the Year. There are 21 sports, and the award is for both sports and the classroom, and she was number one. That is quite a feat.” 2015 Husker graduate Liz Kuhlkin didn’t waste any time demonstrating what she learned at Nebraska. She won the Topeka Open on the new 2015 PWBA Tour. “There are life lessons learned when you are a Nebraska Husker, and Coach Straub played a fatherly role to all of us, being there whenever we needed him, whether it was bowling advice or non-bowling advice,” said Kuhlkin. “His humor and style may be questioned by some – he can pull off pastels better than anyone I know – but he is without a doubt one of the most caring people I have ever met and helped me enormously in bowling and in life. I feel the utmost honor when I get to tell people that I bowled for the N on my back and Coach Straub.” Straub doesn’t like to brag about himself or his own family too much, but it would be a crime not to mention Kim Straub as one of the best Nebraska bowlers, and one who had tremendous success as a professional. Her parents owned a bowling center in Beatrice, NE, and then Kim Berke joined the team as a freshman in 1989, five years after Bill became the head coach. She was a four-year All American, a member of the 1991 National Champions team, the Intercollegiate Bowling Championship MVP in 1991, the NTCA College Player of the Year in 1992, and went on to win two PWBA national titles and seven regional titles as a pro. And in 1994, she married her coach.
The Tour Was A Blast
All of us are shaped by our experiences in life, and as one of the best bowlers ever from Nebraska, Straub was certainly qualified to be a pro bowler and was elected to the Nebraska Bowling Hall of Fame. Later, he brought his coaching skills to Lincoln to build one of the best college programs in the nation. He is a leader who refuses to sit on the sidelines and let others do the heavy lifting. As a PBA champion, Straub bowled with and against most of the legends of the game for more than a dozen years. He won two
national titles – The Showboat Doubles in Las Vegas in 1976 with Tom Warren, and the PBA Rolaids Open at Dick Weber Lanes in Florissant, MO, in 1982. “I had a blast on the tour,” said Straub. “I was lucky enough to make the finals in my first three tournaments, and it was fun for me. If you have ever read the stories about the early days of baseball, when the teams partied on the trains between games, it was a lot like that on the PBA tour in the 70s. We had 75 to 80 guys who bowled full-time, and another 50 to 60 who joined in from time to time, and it was
great. There was not much money, but we made a living. The early golf tour was similar.” Like most of the players of that era, Straub traveled stop to stop by car, and he loves to tell the stories of the adventures they experienced. His traveling buddy was Dave Frame. He says they met during one of his first tournaments when he needed a ride from the bowling center to the hotel. “Dave offered the ride, but we ran out of gas before we got out of the parking lot,” laughs Straub. “So, the first time we met, I had to help push his car to get gas.” It was a rocky start, but they became friends, and both found some success on tour. “A couple of years after that, we are driving Dave’s ’72 Thunderbird through the Pennsylvania mountains on our way to the East Coast,” said
PROFILE shoulder for Akron since the early 60s. I think that is the way they saw us.”
All Is Well That Ends Well
Kim and Bill Straub pose with Paul Klempa.
Straub. “It’s the middle of the night. Dave is sleeping, and I’m driving. All a sudden all of the lights go out – headlights, dash lights, all of it. In a panic, I wake him up, and Dave looks at me calmly and says, ‘Don’t worry, they will come back on in a minute.’ ” They survived that incident and many more over the years.
After a decade of touring both full time and part time, Straub and many other players could not help but notice that they were still struggling to make a living. A few top guys were doing well, but journeyman players were just barely getting by. In 1982, they took action in an attempt to make things better. They formed a players union, and Straub was elected president. The players ended up in litigation against the PBA’s Akron office, and in a settlement, the judge ruled in the union’s favor and told the PBA to treat its players better. But the only action taken was the restrictions, allowing players to compete in other events, were removed. Another little-known result of the period is that a few international events were staged by the small group. “We went to Finland twice and had a tournament in Puerto Rico, and they went over pretty big for the time,” said Straub. One factor that may have led to the undoing of the group was that California promoter Bill Taylor was the primary financier and Taylor had a few run-ins with the Akron office before and after the lawsuit. “He was a guy who agreed that what was happening was not always in the best interest of the players, and he wanted to help. We welcomed his assistance.” “It just did not go anywhere,” said Straub. “My opinion is that they just thought we might put their overall income and power in danger, and they saw us as a threat instead of a group trying to help. There were a few players that were represented contractually out of Akron, and they didn’t want to sign on with an oversized Nebraskan and a guy from California who had a chip on his
Bill Straub was destined for bigger things after leaving his first career as a professional bowler — things like marriage, family and becoming one of the best coaches in the world. Straub was blessed to experience all of those joys of life, but it almost ended on January 9, 2014. On that fateful day, he came very close to death. So close that he was given his last rites. Straub was in Las Vegas for team trials in early January 2014, and he was scheduled to fly home January 9, but he wound up his business early and changed his flight to January 8. Shortly after lunch on January 9, he and assistant coach Paul Klempa were in the athletic office alone. Klempa had planned to leave earlier to run an errand, but decided to wait. Suddenly and without warning, Straub collapsed. Unable to move, Straub called to Klempa for help. Klempa called 911. At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Straub’s condition accurately as an aortic tear, which is often misdiagnosed as cardiac arrest. A misdiagnosis is often fatal. However, within minutes, he was rushed into emergency surgery that lasted seven hours. The surgeon oncall at the time was the best available for Straub’s condition. “Like anyone that has had a loved one go through a medical emergency, we went through a few different stages during his surgery,” said Kim Straub. “Shock, hardto-control fear which made me feel sick to my stomach, and finally, extreme gratitude and praise to God that he made it through. Thankfully, Bill and I were surrounded by family and friends through all of it. Since the first time we could piece together all of the events that took place that day, foremost in our minds are two words – divine intervention.” Nebraska assistant coach Paul Klempa’s life was also turned upside down that day. With Bill and Kim at the hospital for several weeks, he was left with a big-league college bowling program to run pretty much on his own. Kim is the team manager who schedules all of the travel, all of the details before a tournament, practice sessions, endless paperwork, etc. Now it would be up to Klempa mid-way through the 2013-14 season to handle all that, plus his regular coaching duties and drilling and maintaining all of the equipment used by the team. “I regularly reminded myself that the stress I was enduring was minute in comparison to what Bill and Kim were faced with,” said Klempa. “The help I received from the Nebraska Athletic Department and a wonderful group of young women on the team allowed me to keep the ship afloat.”
PROFILE The ship did more than just float with Klempa at the helm. They finished second in the NCAA Championship Tournament. And with Bill and Kim back on the job in 2015, the dynamic threesome led the team to the title. Klempa’s almost 20 years of coaching experience served him and the team well. On July 8, 2015, Straub underwent a second surgery in Houston to replace a leaky valve that doctors told him would have to be repaired when he healed from the initial surgery. That procedure required a two-week Kim Straub. medically induced coma, and all went well. Doctors told him he is good for another 15 or 20 years. His reaction? “Yippee!”
Bill Straub is now 64. He knows that he can’t coach his beloved Nebraska teams forever, and he now also knows for certain what he has thought for several years – that the team would be in very good hands under Coach Klempa. But there is a new twist that may keep him around for a few more years. Bill and Kim’s daughter Meghan is now on the team. Meghan was planning to attend college as a volleyball player, but a torn Achilles tendon frightened a few recruiters that were after her, and they backed down on scholarship offers. So she opted to bowl for her dad’s team.
She has the talent, and since both of her parents were pro bowlers, she certainly knows what it takes to win. “I told her I would quit coaching after her freshman year, but now that she is bowling and its looking like she might be a future big help to the team, what do I do?” said Straub. The other passion Straub has been thinking about for a few years is car collecting. He once owned a ’67 Corvette 427, but these days, we might see him cruising around Lincoln in his classic Cadillac Eldorado or zipping through town in his race-ready Mini Cooper. Whatever path he takes, the Straub family and the University of Nebraska will be thankful that he survived the traumatic health scare, and grateful and proud that Bill Straub always put his heart and soul into everything he has done so well for so many years. ❖
Jim Goodwin is the founder and president of the Bowling News Network and a former president and life member of the International Bowling Media Association.
Welcome Home! By Mark Miller
Small town, family-owned bowling centers have been a gathering place for generations. And it looks like the trend will continue.
ocated halfway between Oklahoma City and Dallas on Interstate 35, Ardmore, OK, is a town with an estimated population of 25,000. About 60 miles north of Detroit sits Lapeer, MI, with approximately 8,800 people. And, less than an hour southwest of Milwaukee is Burlington, WI, which has 10,500 citizens. These long-standing establishments are welcoming and hospitable. They tend to be old-fashioned bowling alleys that have been around for decades rather than
Good Time Lanes
It was the hometown center where Carol Norman first honed skills that eventually would lead her to a hall of fame career. She was 10 years old when sister Susie took her to what was then called Imperial Lanes. From then on, she was hooked. “I believe it was the first center in Oklahoma to have automatic scoring,” Norman recalled of the place originally opened in 1957 by the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. “It was ahead of its time. There were pot games going on all night long. It was a very busy place back then.” By the mid-1970s, Norman and her friends would get the key from manager Lonnie Harrels, lock themselves in, and bowl all night long. “My mom knew that’s where I would be and it was a safe place,” Norman said. “I didn’t drink. I didn’t smoke. I spent a lot of time there. It was the best place any kid could be. It was great. I had a blast growing up there.” But soon after Harrels retired in the early 1990s, Norman said the place started going downhill. It became so run down, she stopped bowling there in the late 1990s. By the early 2010s, it was only open about 35 hours a week with 22
modern family entertainment centers. That’s fine for the people who patronize them, many of whom think of these facilities as the center of their universe outside of work or family. Like the bar in Cheers, everybody knows their names. In some small towns, there’s always been just one bowling establishment. For others, there used to be multiple locations. All hold special places in the hearts of those who live there as attested to by the following stories of three special places.
about 12 total teams competing in leagues. Enter the bowling Robertson family who bought it out of foreclosure in February 2014. Following some initial renovations, they re-opened on March 1 with a new name – Good Time Lanes – and a new attitude. “The guy who had it before us thought he would quickly make money and sell it,” said Ron Robertson Sr. “It was only open 35 hours the entire week. He wouldn’t open until 4 p.m. and would close at 8:30 p.m. most weekdays. When we opened at 10 a.m., the telephone was ringing. We had been missing business. We had to overcome the stigma that it was never open. As people realized we were open, they started coming back.” Robertson had bowled for many years not only in Ardmore but at former centers in Ada and Durant, OK, plus Denison, Gainesville, and Sherman in neighboring Texas. His son Ron Jr. and daughter Brenda also were long-time league bowlers. As an owner of a convenience store for 20 years and a refinery operator for 24 years in Madill, the elder Robertson was looking for a place in Ardmore to turn into a consignment
store. He was competing in a senior league an hour away in Denton, TX. As fate would have it, the center in Sherman closed when its roof collapsed in an ice storm. Ron Sr. then learned the Ardmore center might become something other than bowling. The bank had lowered its asking price to $300,000 after three sheriff’s sales netted nothing. While no member of the Robertson family could finance the property alone, they could make it work by combining their resources. Ron Sr. personally put down $30,000 in cash and took $165,000 from his 401K account and bought it. Soon thereafter, he sold his home and moved to Ardmore. With full-time jobs elsewhere, Ron Jr., a teacher/youth minister/coach, and Brenda, a mental health counselor, needed to pool their time. “When we first bought it, our friends said ‘you may not want to quit your day jobs until you get it going,’ ” said Ron Jr. They made it through the transition thanks primarily to the help of Jim and Kathy Hammer, who helped keep the place going for the holding company and through the early days of the Robertson’s ownership. Then a funny thing happened. Business returned much faster than they expected. Not only did people come back to leagues, but church and school groups, birthday parties and open play began blossoming. “We had a record month that March,” Ron Sr. said. “After we saw what we did in March, we thought we could do more.” One of the next tasks was to send Ron Jr. to Brunswick’s school to learn about the mechanics and maintenance. The three-day training not only taught the 41-year-old how to fix things, it helped him understand all the things that needed fixing when he returned. They quickly purchased a Kegel lane machine to put down fair conditions for their bowlers. They added a new flat-screen scoring system, furniture, carpet, neon background and revamped the food menu. They relocated the front desk to the front entrance. A pro shop operated by Kertis Vinson was added. Outside they paved the parking lot, put up signage to promote the new name, painted the building and installed lighting. “I’m happy for them especially with a town like that,” said Norman, who hadn’t visited her hometown in several years.
“They need a place like that. Kids need a place like that. I’ve talked to several of the bowlers and they are excited.” Today, the entire Robertson family is heavily involved and heavily bowling. Both Ron Sr. and Ron Jr. average nearly 200 in multiple leagues. Brenda is a solid 170-175 competitor just like sister-in-law Mindy. Asa and Kendall, Ron Jr. and Mindy’s children, average between 130 and 150. Addison, Brenda’s 11year-old son, is in the 160s while his grandmother Dana Marie (Rie) was in the 120s before hanging it up this year. By the 2014-15 season, there were eight leagues and 300 bowlers with a similar number competing weekly. “We’re not all about bowling. We’re about treating people right and promoting bowling,” Ron Sr. said. “Customers started bringing in their families and their kids. Many of them
The Robertson family.
wouldn’t come in at all before. We needed to bring the center from the 1980s into the 1990s and 2000s. It was an eyesore. Now, it’s something I’m proud of.”
Gerlach’s bowling center
Once upon a time, not that long ago, there were three bowling centers and 48 total lane beds in Lapeer, MI. The current Gerlach’s Bowling Center was built in 1945, another 12laner opened north of town in the late 1950s and a 24-laner was launched in 1972. All were busy with double shifts every night. “It was an amazing time,” said 60-year-old Dan Gerlach who started working for his father at age nine and who has lived his entire life within three miles of his center. “Then the bowling industry started going downhill, and it just kept dropping. “The other two centers had bars and we didn’t. But what they didn’t figure on is we had apartments and stores. We had rental income coming in.” The now lone center in Lapeer originally dated back to a fourlane downtown facility opened by Gerlach’s grandfather in 1919. The property changed hands 10 times between 1924 and IBI
1938 when his father and uncle bought it. Following World War II in 1945, they bought land a few miles away and started construction on 12 lanes at the current location, in a building that included other tenants. “That was kind of smart, because in the summer time, when they closed the bowling center, they still had money coming in,” Gerlach said. “When they built this, they had five partners. I started buying out the partners in the 80s. I ended up buying the business and the land without buying the business and the land. I ended up with stock, 50 shares of stock, 100 shares of stock until the last 50 shares of stock in the early 2000s.” Though owners of the 12-laner known as The Pits, and the bigger Lapeer Lanes both told Gerlach they’d drive him out of business, he has persevered past them all. “I decided we were going to be the best 12-lane center we could and so my goal in life for 20-plus years was to make the big center look bad,” he said. “That literally was my life. It was kind of sad when they burned
and closed (in 2008) because then I didn’t have anything to compete with. The rental income from the apartments and the stores was about $40,000-50,000 a year, so I budgeted that every year for repairs. Our center was pretty run down. My dad was one of those typical old-time 40s bowling center operators who made it through the good times without fixing anything and I was just the opposite. Every year, it was new ball returns, new masking units, new parking lot, new roof, new carpet, just something great that was highly visible.” Surviving quite well when his competitors closed, Gerlach spent about $1.1 million in 2011 to add six lanes, including purchasing and tearing down three neighboring homes. Since then, Gerlach estimates his center has featured 9,500-10,000 games per lane per year, making it one of the busiest centers for its size in the country. “To me it’s a good thing we’re here, because every community needs a bowling center,” he said. “I’m just glad I was financially able to add on, because the community needed more lanes when we lost the other 24.”
The original facility and, for many years, the current one were called Lapeer Recreation. That changed to Gerlach’s in 1989 when they tired of the 100 or so calls a day from people thinking they were the Lapeer Recreation Department. “This is one of the few places in town where you can bring the whole family and not be a problem,” said Gerlach’s wife Patti. Gerlach’s tries to cater to as many types of people as possible. It has house balls as light as four pounds. For many years, it heavily served youth since it didn’t serve alcohol. It long has hosted special needs groups from Vassar, which is more than 40 miles away, every Sunday because they feel welcome. “There’s a center six miles from where they live but were told they were disruptive to their regular customers,” Dan said. “These guys come here on Wednesdays and they come here on Sundays. They just look forward to coming here bowling. They have their own balls, bags, and shoes and really look forward to it.” Gerlach likes to buck the trends of typical small centers by including installing furnishings not typical for a small center. He recently put in BESX scoring units and Zot Color Splash lighting across the entire center after previously adding QubicaAMF automatic bumpers, Flagship Knockout carpets, and a Kegel Ion cordless machine to oil the lanes. He often buys
COVER STORY new pins that keep conditions tough – the center finally had its first 800 series in January and only about a half-dozen people average more than 200. “If something new and improved comes out, I will try it; and if I like it I will put it out across the house,” Gerlach said. “The Kegel salesman said ‘How many lanes do you have?’ I said 12 and he said ‘12-lane centers can’t afford this machine,’ and I said ‘I can.’ ” The Gerlachs finally bought a liquor license in 2006 for $60,000, which was paid back within two years. But that part of the business stays low-key with only bottled beer and a small selection of liquors. The center even served as a prime location for the filming of a Halloween movie called Chubbies. Employee Nathan Rumler, a big fan of horror movies, helped arrange for Gerlach’s to play a prominent role in filming that took place in 2013 with the Silver Bullet Pictures production debuting in October, 2014. While being the lone surviving bowling center in town has its advantages, Dan Gerlach wishes there still were others, because he enjoyed the competition. “If you have competition, you have to be better than them,” he said. What’s Gerlach most proud about? “That it’s still standing,” he said. “The original center that moved here started in 1919, so we’re 97 years old. I can’t wait until we turn 100 since I’m planning a big celebration.”
Towne & Country Lanes
Now 76 years old, Merrill Draper has owned the lone bowling establishment in Burlington, WI, since 1971. The building dates back to 1947 when it was a Cooper and Jockey underwear factory. When that closed 10 years later, it converted to a bowling center as the then-building owners put in 18 lanes. Draper and partner Don Schreck and their wives bought the facility on a land contract which Draper bought completely in 1976. Today, it’s truly a family affair starting with youngest daughter Theresa Reimer, who has managed the center for many years. “We run a family-based operation,” said Draper, a mechanic at the now-defunct Northgate Lanes in Madison before coming to Burlington. “It’s all been run by my family since we’ve been here. We try to treat the customers well, because they’re all local people.” Draper’s wife Lorraine, 71, and son-in-law Jerry Reimer are also heavily involved, with Lorraine handling the finances and bookkeeping. Daughters Kristin Kuzik and Deborah Sweeten previously helped before moving elsewhere. “Because through the years we have stressed being a family-type operation, we try to encourage families to come in,” Draper said. “We offer a lot of family-type programs where people can come in, have fun and it’s not out-of-sight cost-wise. “We’re a family bowling center in a community where we want all the people to come in as a family and enjoy themselves. We pride ourselves on that.” Draper also prides himself and his family’s center on helping a variety of groups and organizations in town. “We do a lot communitywide fundraising for every youth and high school operation around,” he said. “Fundraising is a big part of our business for the high school baseball, soccer and wrestling teams and all the school programs. We have youth bowling. We have IBI
COVER STORY phys ed bowling through the high school which we started in 1971.” Towne & Country Lanes also hosts both boys and girls high school teams. “I do all I can to help the youth and get them interested in our sport but also to help them out,” he said. Besides school events, the center annually hosts The Battle of the Businesses where 12-18 local companies put together teams for bragging rights for the next year. There’s also an array of youth program fundraisers and Theresa Reimer runs a yearly event for breast cancer. It also conducts a multitude of tournaments including a handicap team event that draws 400 teams from Burlington and the surrounding area. Plus, there are events for the local chamber of commerce and several fraternal organizations in the community, such as the Lions, Kiwanis, and Knights of Columbus. And it’s not just tournaments and special events that have proven successful. Towne
Jerry and Theresa Reimer with Merrill and Lorraine Draper.
& Country is double-shifted; leagues twice weekly, with mixed leagues on weekends, and strong junior and senior programs. Draper estimates nearly 900 people compete in leagues each week. The Drapers and Reimers have enjoyed so much success while being able to give back because they know so many people in the community. A good number have even met their future spouses at Towne & Country. Though nobody has yet been married there, plenty have held their wedding parties at the center. These are just three of the hundreds of small American towns where bowling centers are more than just places to play or compete. Often they are where community members gather to see old friends and make new ones. They’re where school, civic and business groups hold meetings. The small town center is alive and well all over the country. ❖
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.
AL BLOUGH'S LEARNING LAB New thoughts on how to convert open play bowlers to league bowlers.
lbert Blough, owner of CHB Sports and three bowling centers in and around Berks County, PA, has been in the bowling business for more than half a century and has seen the tumultuous changes that have taken place. He understands them, adapts to them, and profits from them, but in his heart of hearts, he deeply believes and knows that the strength of the industry has been, and needs to be, in the development of league bowlers. In conversation with Fred Kaplowitz, president of The Kaploe Marketing Group, Mr. Blough shares his thoughts with IBI on the changes in equipment, league bowlers and business in general.
Graph courtesy of Steve Brichta. 30
By Albert Blough and Fred Kaplowitz
“With the advent of the BPAA’s 8 For 8 programs, and others that create new bowlers, we as an industry have placed thousands and thousands of polyester bowling balls in the market,” Blough starts. “Over the last 10 years the number could be up to or over 100,000. The issue is not in discounting or selling equipment to a new bowler. That has always been an important mandate in the growth and development of a new league bowler. The problem lies in the follow up.” Blough continues, “We give these new customers polyester balls, and then ask them to bowl in a longer season format, maybe 12 to 16 weeks. Additionally, and more importantly, we ask them to bowl on a lane condition that is incompatible with the equipment we just gave them. Why do we continue to do that? Do we really expect that new bowler, who may not yet even understand what a good shot is, to bowl on a lane condition built for a traditional league bowler? Is it any wonder that these new polyester ball bowlers get frustrated, exasperated, angry and eventually quit, claiming it was no fun?” “I thought about it,” said Kaplowitz, “and wondered how much fun would it be to play golf with a set of rubber drivers and other assorted clubs. Not much fun at all, I Imagine. Yet we continue to put out 26 or 27 ml of oil when we should really be putting down less than 14 ml of oil that would be far more compatible with a bowler that is using a polyester bowling ball.” Blough makes a point with this story: “Mark McCandless, proprietor of Wildlife Lanes in Burrell, PA, decided to run a summer league requiring all league bowlers to use a polyester bowling ball. The results of that league were: • Of the 18 bowlers who participated in this bowling environment, five averaged over 200. • The high game was 278 and the high series was 995 for four games. This league, although a small sample, proved that given the right lane conditions for polyester bowling balls, even newbies can enjoy the thrill and excitement of bowling.” Matthew Rubright, one of Wildlife’s summer league bowlers, posted the following on Facebook in August of 2015:
OPINION Over the last 15 weeks we bowled on a 38 foot modified house pattern with 14ml of oil. We bowled 4 games moving a pair to the right after two games. The restriction was, only polyester bowling balls, with strictly a pancake weight block or no weight block, were allowed to be used. Also to level the playing field, no bowling ball surface changes were allowed to be made. The environment we bowled on over the summer proved that you CAN score on this pattern and that on an environment like this the modern day advanced ball technology isn't needed. We had a wide range of bowling talent competing in this league and with the given requirements and restraints, it essentially came down to who can make their spares. That isn't any different than how the sport of bowling is on Sport compliant conditions. This was a great experience for everyone who participated in the league. Out of the 18 bowlers that participated in the league, 5 averaged over 200 (including myself, 225 avg. for 56 games, High Game: 278 High Series 995 for 4 games). I believe that with the right fit, one ball (plastic ball) and the appropriate bowling environment, bowling can be simplified and brought to a level and competitive playing field. Constructive criticism is welcomed and hopefully you can consider what I have written above as a positive review and just think about it. Blough picks up the story from here, “Whenever hosting open play bowlers using house balls, proprietors need to consider oiling the lanes with 7 ½ to 14 ml of oil. By doing this, proprietors will give open play bowlers the opportunity to feel competitive, to have a sense of achievement and to develop a love for the game of bowling which, as we always say, is a lifetime sport. By continuing to provide open bowlers with only league conditions (27 ml or more of oil), the trajectory of developing new league bowlers will continue its downward trend. “The house ball is used by a majority of customers. Adhering to the aforementioned suggestion of oiling the lanes differently for open play bowlers will invariably make the use of the plastic house ball a far better experience for the customer by providing a more rewarding experience and may very well result in a greater percentage of return visits. “In 1979, when we had the most league bowlers, we were putting 7 ½ ml of oil on the lanes and all the new bowlers used house balls. After they learned to bowl, they purchased their own ball. We need to get back to that starting point and then, after the customer learns to bowl, he can buy new equipment which is more compatible with the league condition (26 ml to 27 ml of oil).” Kaplowitz agrees, “Without an understanding and appreciation of this phenomenon, I, too, believe we will continue to lose league bowlers even before they get started. We have the opportunity now to deliver a better product for the open play bowler so he or she might be more inclined to become a league bowler.” Albert Blough can be reached at alblough@CHBSports.com. ❖
Fred is president of the Kaploe Marketing Group, a marketing and management firm that helps BECs and FECs around the world increase business with innovative and unique programs. He is a co-founder of Kids Bowl Free and presents marketing seminars to the bowling industry and beyond.
By Robert Sax
Soulful 'Strikefest' carries on the humanitarian work of Motown's Fuller Gordy.
hey called Fuller Gordy Mr. 700, and he was a fierce competitor on the bowling lanes of Detroit. As one of the first African-American members of the PBA, he blazed a trail for future black pro champions like George Branham III, Curtis Odom and Bill Oatman. When Fuller wasn’t bowling, or teaching others to bowl, he was a savvy business executive at his younger brother Berry Gordy’s record company, the legendary Motown. But family and friends remember Fuller Gordy most fondly as a humanitarian who helped countless people get ahead in life and business by giving encouragement, making connections and providing financial support. “That's the kind of person he was,” says his daughter Iris Gordy. “He had a humanitarian heart, and people used to tell me all the time, ‘I loved your father. I wouldn't be in business if it weren't for him. He set me on the right track, he guided me, gave me advice, he helped me out of a bad situation, he saved my life, literally.’ " Today Fuller Gordy’s legacy continues with Strikefest, an annual bowling party and charity event started in 2008 by Iris Gordy and Iris’s daughter Karla Gordy Bristol. Iris Gordy is a former vice president of Motown Records who helped launch the careers of several successful artists, including Rick James and DeBarge. Karla 32
Fuller Gordy, third from the right, receives the winning trophy.
Gordy Bristol is a former Motown Records artist choreographer now known as a music consultant, producer and promoter. Each year Strikefest brings the extended Motown family together to bowl, party and help out worthy non-profits on the Los Angeles scene. “You have performers, and artists, and Gordy family, and alumni. It's just coming together, and just having a good time,” says Karla Gordy Bristol. “That's really what it's like. Everybody there's a VIP. There's no VIP section.” The first Strikefest was held on October 9, 2008, a date between Fuller Gordy’s birthday of September 9 and the anniversary of his death on November 9. The festivities included intimate musical performances by several great Motown artists including Tata Vega, the late Teena Marie and the late Ali Ollie Woodson. Every Strikefest since has featured at least one celebrated artist from Motown and other record labels, including Thelma Houston, Freda Payne and Brenda Holloway. The Strikefest stage also features additional musical and comedy acts as well as presentations by the Gordy family and friends. In contrast to the typical Hollywood fundraiser, Strikefest feels like a joyous family reunion. There is none of the stuffiness that can make such gatherings a chore in Los Angeles, where there are several charity events every night
FEATURE of the week. Many of the attendees are family or old friends and return year after year to see each other and remember Fuller Gordy. There may be some serious competition on the lanes, but it’s all in good fun and for a good cause.
One Grand Person
At Strikefest 2015 in November, Iris Gordy told a poignant story about her father as a humanitarian. It occurred while she was working at the Motown Records offices on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. “Occasionally there would be someone in front of the building, maybe with a guitar case open or something collecting money... a homeless person, maybe. So, one day I came in and I saw this guy and I remembered his face. I'd seen him for a few days there... later I was going to [my father’s] office to get something. My dad's on the phone and I glance over to the other side of his office and there is the
guy sitting there. The same guy from in front of the building... he's having lunch and he's watching TV. Very comfortably I might say. So, I said, ‘Dad,’ when he got off the phone, " ‘is that the guy from downstairs?’ " “He looked at me quite indignantly [and said], ‘Yes, it is.’ I said ‘Well, why is he here in your office?’ He said ‘Well, he was hungry, and he needed someone to talk to. I'm available to talk, and I had something to feed him.’ That's the kind of person he was. He was an all around guy. He was so much more than a
Fuller’s daughter Iris (right) with her daughter Karla Gordy Bristol.
bowler, or even a father, or husband, everyday man, a business man, humanitarian. He was all those things, encompassed in one grand person.”
Pioneering Pro Bowler
Fuller Gordy was also a talented bowler. “Among his peers, he was top notch. He was so good they called him Mr. 700 because he had so many 700 series games, consistently,” says Iris Gordy. (No one remembers for sure who bestowed that name on Gordy, but Iris thinks it might have been another top Detroit pro, Bill Rodman.) “America was bowling. We were part of America. Our family was a bowling family,” recalls Iris Gordy. The top Detroit pros played at Thunderbird Lanes, and that’s where Fuller bowled regularly. He captained several successful Detroit area bowling teams and played regional tournaments as well. When she was a teenager, Iris Gordy travelled with her father to tournaments around the Midwest. She also recalls going with him and her mother to a big tournament in New York City. When the Professional Bowlers Association was formed in 1958, Fuller became one of its first African-American members. In 2014 the PBA recognized his contributions in a letter written on the occasion of Strikefest VI. “Mr. Gordy played an instrumental role in forming Detroit’s Motown Bowling League 34
FEATURE which no doubt contributed to the popularity of the sport in what could be called bowling’s ‘First City,’” wrote Tom Clark, commissioner of the PBA. “It is because of the dedication of players such as Mr. Gordy, who became a member early in the organization’s formation, that the PBA continues to be enjoyed by participants and bowling fans alike.” Another of Fuller’s bowling achievements was the Motown Bowling League, a recreational league for employees and artists of the recording company. The league met after work on Wednesdays at Detroit’s 20 Grand Club, a popular entertainment complex with a primarily African-American clientele. It had a bowling alley on the ground floor and a nightclub upstairs that often featured Motown acts. When Motown Records moved to Los Angeles in 1972, the Motown Bowling League was relocated too, probably to Hollywood Star Lanes says
Iris with brother Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records, and Karla Gordy Bristol.
and its sports programs. “We have a very robust athletic program where we really encourage lifetime sports, including tennis and bowling,” says Corey. “I have several employees who love bowling and we take the kids bowling.” At the end of the evening, Berry Gordy offered a testimonial about his brother Fuller. “He was the best [bowler] I know. He was the best at almost everything he did,” said Berry. “Bowling was his
Challenger Boy and Girls Club of South Los Angeles CEO Corey Dantzler with a graduate of the program (left) and Karla Gordy Bristol.
Iris Gordy. As with Strikefest it was a family affair. “As a child growing up around the family of Motown I just remember being very excited to go to the bowling league games that they would do after [work] at the end of the day,” recalls Karla Gordy Bristol.
Honoring the Community’s Best
Each year the Friends of Fuller, which runs Strikefest, selects a local nonprofit as its honoree. The funds raised by the event are donated to the organization, and perhaps more important, the honoree gains valuable contacts in the community that can generate future publicity and financial support. In fact, the 2015 honoree, the Challengers Boys and Girls Club of South Los Angeles, was referred by the director of Menformation, a mentoring organization that was a previous Strikefest honoree. “Iris and [Karla] toured the club and interviewed me and took me through the wash and made sure the organization was something they wanted to support,” says Challengers’ CEO Corey Dantzler. “Friends of Fuller is a brand new opportunity for us and it is great for us to be able to partner with them.” Challengers, founded by Corey’s late father Lou Dantzler, is an organization that has provided a safe place to play and grow to more than 45,000 boys and girls since 1968. Fuller Gordy would certainly have approved of the club 36
The bowling action.
love, and he made us all love it. We’re still doing it today.” At Strikefest, Mr. 700 continues to inspire family and friends to make the world a better place. ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
SHOWCASE KEG SPACERS
Solve walk-in cooler space problems easily and inexpensively with Keg Spacers from Alcohol Controls. This amazing invention allows kegs to be stacked securely and also allows the top and bottom kegs to be tapped. Keg Spacers, available for most keg sizes, including the slim “torpedo” kegs, will double the floor space and help keep a cooler organized and efficient. In addition, check out Keg Dollies that make it possible for employees to roll kegs with one finger. Learn more about these popular products at AlcoholControls.com or call 800-285-BEER (2337). When purchasing online, type in coupon code BOWLMEOVER for 10% off the already discounted web prices.
Intercard, Inc., a leader in cash management solutions for the amusement industry, offers the i3 Reader, the first reader that’s capable of accepting three different payment methods: magnetic stripe; RFID proximity cards/wristbands; and smartphones. This unique characteristic of the i3 Reader gives client-businesses
CENTER NETWORK SYSTEM
Sync’s Media Manager, from Brunswick Bowling Products, is the most powerful content creation engine ever built into a bowling center network system. It can be used to customize or create from scratch all marketing content: everything from in-game ads that display on the scoring monitors to tempting promotional messages that land in customer’s email inboxes. There is an option to choose from a large library of impressive off-the-shelf ads that are formatted to display on scoring monitors, computer screens, smartphone displays or as printer-ready files. They can easily be modified with a center name, logo, hours, address, pricing and other custom information. For more info, go to www.brunswickbowling.com/sync.
QubicaAMF has always been on the cutting edge of NEW. This is no truer than with its entertainment system, BES X. Since its introduction, BES X has been driving significant revenue results for over 550 proprietors around the world. It offers the widest and most innovative onlane entertainment options. QubicaAMF invites proprietors to join the BES X
Birthday parties are a given at bowling centers around the world. Funtime Footwear’s answer to goodie bags with not-so-good goodies is to give centers an option to add socks with a “birthday attitude.” Party socks are lowcost and high-value; they’re a keepsake and a conversation starter! Available for ages 4 to 10 years. Customize Party Socks with Your Center Name. Expert Hosiery is Your Better Source for Socks. Call (919) 799-707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.funtimefootwear.com.
MOBILE APP PLATFORM
family, and learn how to change the bowling experience for their customers. To find an upcoming local BES X Road Show, visit amusement.qubicaamf.com/ experiencebesx/ seminars/
the best of both worlds: the option to completely switch business from magnetic stripe readers to RFID or NFC technologies; or to phase in and/or test the new technologies over time while still using the latest in magnetic stripe readers. For more info, go to www.intercardinc.com or call (314) 275-8066.
UNIS Games has introduced its new mobile platform that will help FEC operators join the mobile app revolution that has swept up businesses around the world. The platform is called FUN IS and allows operators to run a mobile app for their center on iOS and Android without any technical knowledge. FUN IS was made specifically for the amusement industry. The app provides a direct marketing channel from the operator to the guest. Promotions, package deals, and even party booking inquiries can all be easily done through the app. All the information inside the app can be updated in real time using any web browser. For more information, visit thefunis.com or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/funisapp/.
AMF and some BRUNSWICK PC board repair/exchange. 6-month warranty, fast turnaround. Call or write: WB8YJF Service 5586 Babbitt Road, New Albany, Ohio 43054 Toll Free: 888-902-BOWL (2695) Ph./Fax: (614) 855-3022 (Jon) E-mail: email@example.com Visit us on the WEB! http://home.earthlink.net/~wb8yjf/
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: firstname.lastname@example.org TOLL FREE
EQUIPMENT FOR SALE NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com. FOR SALE: two brand-new, state-of-the-art X-31011 Antari Fazer, Haze Fog Combo machines. One box opened only for successful testing. Retails at $675 each. Plus, Platinum Series Premium Fog fluid (a $136 value). Total package $900. Call Scott at Pinz Bowling Center, (818) 769-7600. BRUNSWICK FRAMEWORX SEATING PACKAGE (16 lanes) includes: 16 Team Tables with (4) attached swivel telescoping seats; 4 High Tables with (2) attached swivel telescoping seats; 16 moveable separate seats. Call Jay @ (586) 359-3771. FOR SALE: Kegel lane machine; settee sofa/couch, naugahyde vinyl in multiple colors, like new; black lite blue bulbs, 50 min; Mitsubishi media mask/speakersâ€”rock their world; Steltronic, AMF or Qubica scoring, can add flat screens; used synthetic panels; A2 pinsetters, refurbished; complete Brunswick A2 packages for your next alley. Install available. Call (719) 251-1616. REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
Felix Erickson Co., Inc. Strike Zone © Family of Lane Products
Strike Zone© Next Generation LC 5 gal case $105 Envi-Cide II Disinfectant Shoe sparay 12/15 oz $87.95 Solve-It © Orange Foam Cleaner 12/18 oz $69.95 FESI Solve-IT © Ball Wheel Liner 22’ $90 NEW RM 107 Rubber/Cork Wheel Liner $29.95/Roll 000-024-604 Gray Ball Lift Belt $195 ea. Exclusive Phenolic Kickback Plates Front F128D 16” x 33” $88 ea. Rear F129 19” x 23 3/4” $88 ea. F132T 15" x 50" $130 ea. All plates include screws and instructions 800-445-1090 (F) 609-267-4669 festrikezone.com Resurfacing - Repairs - Supplies - Synthetics
CLASSIFIEDS EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
SERVICES AVAILABLE AMF 5850 & 6525 CHASSIS. Exchange your tired or damaged chassis for an upgraded, rewired, cleaned, painted and ready-to-run chassis. Fast turnaround. Lifetime guarantee. References available. CHASSIS DOCTOR (330) 314-8951. AMF 82-30 MASTER MECHANIC & CHASSIS DOCTOR. Now available for service calls. 44 years experience. References available. Call the CHASSIS DOCTOR @ (330) 314-8951. 46-inch Inflatable Bowling Pins. Great Birthday Party Gift! Use code PinParty and save 20% today. Expires 5/16. bowl.gameops.com
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 - email@example.com
SELL YOUR CENTER
(818) 789-2695 SERVICE CALLS WORLDWIDE • PRE-SHIPS • WE SELL
AS80/90 • BOARD REPAIR • Frameworx NEW KEYPADS • FRONT DESK LCD MONITORS
Michael P. Davies (321) 254-7849
291 Sandy Run, Melbourne, FL 32940 on the web: bowlingscorer.com email: firstname.lastname@example.org 44
Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
CENTERS FOR SALE CENTRAL IDAHO: 8-lane Brunswick center with Anvil lanes, 50-seat restaurant with Drive-Thru Window. All new appliances. Only bowling center within 60 miles. Call (775) 720-2726. PENNSYLVANIA: 20-lane popular & busy, newly renovated, historic 80-year-old Brunswick center. Includes 20 A pinsetters, auto scoring, and a stage. Just remodeled. In an up-and-coming Pittsburgh suburb. Website with lots of info available. Call (412) 503-3606. WESTERN WASHINGTON: 32-lane center in urban area with colleges and military nearby. Strong revenue with upside potential. A-2s, HPL, Qubica scoring. Real estate includes extensive recent upgrades. Large building with generous parking included. Ken Paton, (503) 645-5630. COLORDAO, ASPEN: Profitable 16-lane center with pro shop, game arcade, snack bar & bar/restaurant including indoor & outdoor seating. Family owned for 22 years. Only league-licensed center within 50+ mile radius. Plenty of parking. SBA financing available to qualified buyer. Priced to sell @ $575K. Contact John Hornblower, VR Business Brokers, Aspen Co. (970) 429-8220.
CLASSIFIEDS CENTERS FOR SALE NORTHEAST INDIANA: Busy 16-lane center complete with snack bar, includes beer & wine license. Electronic scoring, upgraded audio & video systems. Highly visible location on Highway 27 in Portland, IN, with ample parking. Pics & info @ Century21adv.com. Contact Rob Green, Century 21 Advance Realty, email@example.com or (260) 525-8474. WESTERN OREGON: 16-lane center in growing small town with high quality of life. Revenue per lane above average and cash flow trending up. Strong state license video poker revenue. A-2s, wood lanes, Qubica scoring, Frameworx seating. Includes real estate. Ken Paton, (503) 645-5630. APPRAISALS: LARRY DOBBS MAI, ASA. (214) 674-8187. Bowlingvaluations@yahoo.com.
HELP WANTED Center Management Opportunity. Are you an assistant manager, manager or assistant general manager looking for an opportunity to grow professionally, as well as financially? Do you have the motivation, drive and energy needed to grow our center’s business? If so, you will want to contact us today. We are a Los Angeles area bowling center seeking a bilingual (Spanish/ English) candidate who is eager to help our business grow. We offer salary (commensurate with experience) plus 401k and vacation. Relocation costs may be provided for the right candidate. To apply, please email your resume and salary history to firstname.lastname@example.org.
OKLAHOMA: Lease to Own or Owner Carry for Viable Investor. 16 lanes—fully remodeled with so much potential, A2s, Steltronic w/42” flatscreens, synthetic panels, 11th Frame Grill, laser tag, largest game room in the area & thriving lounge w/ room to expand. (719) 251-1616.
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 • Fax: (714) 522-0576
ee, gorgeous Hollywood stars are just like us. They play badminton, wash dishes and bowl. Well, at least Jane Russell does in this 1951 Jurgens Lotion ad. An actress, singer and sex symbol, Jane starred in movies with Marilyn Monroe, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ;
Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, Road to Bali ; and Robert Mitchum, His Kind of Woman. And, later in her career, she also became the spokeswoman for Playtex “CrossYour-Heart” bras for full-figured gals. No, Jane wasn’t anything like us. Although bowling did help to “keep it real.” ❖