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CONTENTS

VOL 23.12

6 ISSUE AT HAND

34 PROFILE

The Media Room

A Short Retirement An unexpected set of circumstances brings Brad Sommer out of retirement.

By Scott Frager

8 SHORTS • Bowl Expo 2016 tackles Peyton Manning for keynote speaker. • Bowler Bob Perry tells it all in Redemption Alley. • Glenn Carano joins BVL board of directors. • Santa likes to bowl in his off-hours.

By Mark Miller

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It’s a Brotherhood Thing German bowling heritage is alive and well at Austin’s Saengerrunde Club. By Mark Miller

40 BPAA SUMMIT PREVIEW Aloha from Waikiki!

16 WHAT BOWLING MEANS TO ME

Hawaii isn’t just for vacation any more; it’s paradise for the BPAA Midwinter Summit.

Lifespire Inspires Out of necessity, Larry Hirsch became a bowling hero for special needs kids.

By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson 34

44 FEATURE

20 BUSINESS

Fuel-Injected Bowling Andretti Indoor Karting and US Bowling rev up a racing look for a new FEC.

Proof Positive Bowlmor AMF demonstrates a strong commitment to the sport of bowling by hosting the 2015 U.S. Open.

By Robert Sax

48 REMEMBER WHEN

By Jim Goodwin

Ho, Ho, Ho! By Patty Heath

24 COVER STORY

By Jim Goodwin

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frager@bowlingindustry.com Skype: scottfrager

ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER David Garber garber@bowlingindustry.com

OFFICE MANAGER Patty Heath heath@bowlingindustry.com

CONTRIBUTORS Jim Goodwin Patty Heath Pamela Kleibrink Thompson Mark Miller Robert Sax

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Fred Groh fredgroh@bowlingindustry.com

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Jackie Fisher fisher@bowlingindustry.com

ART DIRECTION & PRODUCTION Designworks

FOUNDER Allen Crown (1933-2002)

12655 Ventura Boulevard Studio City, CA 91604 (818) 789-2695(BOWL) Fax (818) 789-2812 info@bowlingindustry.com

www.BowlingIndustry.com

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:

Getting the Goods Bowling equipment you count on, delivered by distributors you trust.

PUBLISHER & EDITOR Scott Frager

www.dzynwrx.com (818) 735-9424

By Patty Heath

By Anna M. Little

38 HISTORY

THE WORLD'S ONLY MAGAZINE DEVOTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE BUSINESS OF BOWLING

46 Showcase 44

50 Classifieds


THE ISSUE AT HAND

The Media Room As I sit in QubicaAMF’s 51st Bowling World Cup media room, I take a moment to reflect on how cool it is to be here at Sam’s Town Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. Closing my eyes and channeling my publishing DNA, I reflect on the days when tournaments’ media rooms were filled with reporters from all over the world. Each reporter either yelling or screaming into a headset of one of the many available rotary dial telephones, so their story could be written up by hardworking scribes on the other end. Top technology was a dictating machine; cell phones were something that only the comic character Dick Tracy had, and, certainly, there were no Internet or emails. I sense the lowly-lit, smoke-filled room with tons of fingers rhythmically tapping and clicking typewriter keys with the oh-so-fulfilling periodic pull of the typewriter level and “zip” of the carriage moving back to the beginning of the next line. Damn-it-to-hell, if the scribe made a mistake! With no delete button, making a typo or losing a thought mid-stream could be the reporter’s worst nightmare. I can’t imagine having to write and submit a story on deadline in the “Good ‘ol days.” I open my eyes, take a breath and steal a peek around the room. Behind me is the legend Mort Luby working on an email or story, behind Luby, Herbert Bickel, founder of BowlingDigital.com. Fittingly, both are seated in the only two large comfortable, wingbacked, leather chairs in sight. Indeed, publishing royalty. Superstars like QubicaAMF World Cup

tournament director Bernard Gibbons and IBI writer Jim Goodwin are here too. To my right is my dear friend Paul Lane. Paul organized and promoted the first 25 AMF World Cups, and it was an honor to be his wingman. Paul knows everyone and everyone knows Paul. Paul introduced me to some of the amazing proprietors we’ve written about over the years; the story devoted to Frank Sisson was (and remains) one of my favorite proprietor profiles, ever. Like a breath of fresh air, in comes Mr. Hero Noda, bowling’s official photographer. Before I even have a chance to properly shake his hand, Noda-San shares that he has already uploaded and sent the QubicaAMF World Cup 2015 photos to me. What a classy and generous man! Setting the pace and keeping everything on target is the brilliant duo, Anne-Marie Board and Stephanie Darby. Deftly organized, these ladies show how to be truly nimble and dexterous in responding to questions and issues of all kinds. I didn’t need to gamble this trip to Las Vegas. To be a part of this amazing industry is my luck, good fortune and blessing. Happy holidays to you and all those you hold dear.

– SCOTT FRAGER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR frager@bowlingindustry.com

4THIS MONTH AT www.BowlingIndustry.com December is upon us, and 2015 is all but done! Through the months, IBI Online has shared on-the-spot information and breaking news, reminders for trade shows, encouragement to network with peers, photos to inspire, videos to instruct and make you giggle. For our advertisers, this month, the 2016 Red Carpet Media Kit is now available online. For all readers, have you missed an issue, an article you would like to find? Go to IBI in Print on the Homepage and find back issues at your fingertips. A thought on the industry or an idea you would like to share? How about ending the year by posting it. If you’re not a member, get an early jump on resolutions…become an IBI Online member now, for FREE, and be ready for January. Go to www.bowlingindustry.com and sign up.

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SHORTS

ß BITS & PIECES ß ß ß Brunswick supports Give Kids the World

Brunswick Bowling Products partnered with Future Theme Park Leaders Association to support Give Kids the World Village, a 79-acre, nonprofit resort that has welcomed more than 140,000 critically ill children and their families for a dream-wish vacation. The Heart Fun Run and Walk event was held during IAAPA. Members of Team Brunswick solicited donations and participated in the 5k run and 1k walk.

ßßßßßßßßßßßßßß Bay Tek partners with Zymo

Bay Tek Games, designer and manufacturer of coinoperated, redemption games, has announced the partial purchase of Zymo Interactive, an innovative, creative group that specializes in mobile app development, web design and game design and development.

ßßßßßßßßßßßßßß UAB students increase their tuition.

With so much focus on tuition woes and student debt, the University of Alabama at Birmingham student body moved in a different direction. In a special resolution election, students voted in favor of a self-imposed fee increase of $25 per semester to support reinstating UAB football, bowling and rifle. Thirty-five percent of the undergraduate population voted; 84.1 percent voted yes. It should be noted that in the last six years, no more than 15.71 percent of the student body has participated in a vote. UAB officials indicated that this additional fee will result in an extra $700,000 for the three programs.

ßßßßßßßßßßßßßß Royal Pin taps Sync Scoring for its centers.

Jim Doty, general manager of Royal Pin Leisure Centers, which operates 270 lanes in Indianapolis, has selected Brunswick’s Sync for his centers. Doty was part of a group of proprietors giving input for the system. “I like that Sync was designed for proprietors, by proprietors. It’s easier to enter information, and I like the feel of it, shared Doty. Research for the software included more than 500 hours observing customer behavior in centers around the world and several years of data from more than 100 retail centers.

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BOWLING BOOK CORNER

Bob Perry, bowling phenom from Paterson, NJ, strikes a chord with his memoir, Redemption Alley: How I Lived to Bowl Another Frame. Redemption Alley was written by Bob Perry with Stefan Bechtel. It is a memoir written in an edgy style, with poor grammar, and pulls no punches. Bechtel reflects, “It may be the most honest book I have ever read.” The key here is there is a way back. Bob Perry grew up in Paterson, NJ. He came from a hard-working family with his four sisters, and what he did best was bowl. One would think that might be the highway to success, and it might have been, except alcohol and drugs got in the way. As a teenager, he made thousands of dollars in a night playing action bowling. He was a charmer and was convinced that booze helped him bowl better. Bob recalls his ups and downs in painstaking detail. It is a journey to learn from and not take. A good read and a great idea for a gift.

PEOPLEWATCHING John LaSpina, BVL board chair, announced the appointment of Glenn Carano, GM of Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, as the newest member of the Bowlers to Veterans’s Link board of directors. He had also been the director of marketing at the Silver Legacy and, prior to that, Carano worked at the Eldorado from Glenn Carano 1985 to 1995. “Glenn will bring his vast marketing expertise to our efforts which will greatly enrich our strategic plans to meet the needs of America’s heroes,” shared LaSpina. Carano commented, “I’m very much looking forward to working with and for the BVL cause. It’s a fantastic organization that does so much good for America’s veterans. However, there’s much more to be done—as our troops return home, BVL must stand ready to help brighten veteran’s lives.”


GOODWILL CENTRAL

SHORTS ‘Tis the season. Good things happen at bowling centers across the country. Don Carter Lanes, Rockford, IL, hosted Bowling for the Troops. Bowling for Buddy was held at Arlington Lanes, Arlington Heights, IL. The Buddy Foundation provides immediate safety and care to stray, abused and abandoned animals. Their goal: No more homeless pets! The Bowling for Babies fundraiser was held at Poelking Lanes South in Dayton, OH. Funds raised help short-term inpatient care for newborns suffering from prenatal drug exposure. The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Redford kicked off its 13th annual event at Beech Lanes in Redford, MI. Since 2007, the Colusa County Breast Cancer Fund has held its annual Bowling for Boobs at Riverside Lanes in Colusa, CA. This year was no different. Bowlers dressed in pink or purple, adorned with boas, ribbons, wigs and tiaras. The goal was to help support local patients with breast cancer and educate the public about prevention and early detection. What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at heath@bowlingindustry.com.

Media

WATCH ‘WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS BOWL.’ Baseball outfielder Mookie Betts, 22 years old, just finished his first full season with the Red Sox with a 291 average and 820 OPS (on-base plus slugging). What is he doing in his off-time? Bowling. He officially registered for the PBA World Series of Bowling that began Dec.8. Betts plays in multiple bowling leagues with his family and friends in Tennessee and has several 300 games and two 800 series. 10

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WHAT DOES SANTA DO DURING THE OFF-SEASON? BOWL! Randy G. Gulley, IBMA writer, had an opportunity to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus during the off-season. In Gulley’s article, Santa shared that when kids ask him what he likes to do when he is not delivering gifts, the answer comes easily. “Bowling!” Dave Dion and his wife Nancy grew up in the Bay area of California. They have been married for 27 years and, for over 16 years, they have donned the Santa and Mrs. Claus persona. They spend their Christmas holidays in Seattle at the Alderwood Mall talking to children and noting the gifts they request. In previous years, they could be seen in Fremont, Sacramento, and Los Angeles, CA. During all those years, they enjoyed bowling. Presently, Santa and his Missus live in Colorado Springs and are frequently seen at Peak Bowl and Brunswick Zone Circle Lanes. While he has stories galore, Santa did share one with Gulley. “A boy of about six, when asked what he would like for Christmas answered that he wanted Santa’s sleigh. Santa explained he needed the sleigh in order to deliver the toys to all the children in the world. The child thought for a minute and then said, “Okay, I’ll just take a reindeer.”

EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS R. H. Johnson Sports Pavilion, aka Johnson Lanes, in Sun City West, AZ, has spruced up its 30-lane center. After a two-week closure, bowlers walked in to find new carpet, new seats and repaired and finely-calibrated lanes.

After a three-year renovation, the old Frontier Lanes in Lewiston, NY, is now Lewiston Event Center and is so much more than tenpin bowling. Owners Emery Simon and Harold Hibbard have completely transformed the building and its offerings: new scoring, flat-screen TVs, bar and upgraded kitchen, and, the pièce de résistance, two multi-sport simulators. Golf was the main objective for the simulators, but they also offer baseball, football, soccer, rugby, carnival games and zombie dodgeball. The golf simulator offers 93 pro courses. Lots of options to complement bowling is making the Lewiston Event Center a destination for all ages.


SHORTS

What Kids Want It’s that time of year to figure out what to give those little rascals on your Christmas list. RP Toys, Canada, has licensed bowling sets, ‘What Kids Want,’ with Frozen and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles images. Each pin has a different image and can be easily played with friends or alone, either indoors or outdoors. They are available in the U.S. at Walmart and Shoppers Drug Mart or go to www.rptoys.ca for more information. InnoLab, an app developer, has announced the release of Bowling Paradise 3, an innovative new bowling game app featuring a variety of stunning locations, including underwater and outer space, and special effects. It has a multitude of customized options and unique details to keep users entertained for hours. Bowling Paradise 3 is available for free in the App Store and Google Play Store. For more information, visit www.innolab-au.com.

PEYTON MANNING WILL HEADLINE BOWL EXPO 2016 BPAA announced that Bowl Expo’s keynote speaker for 2016 will be fivetime NFL MVP and Denver Bronco’s quarterback Peyton Manning. He will be kicking off proceedings on June 29 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with a presentation speech about his insights surrounding the importance of teamwork, leadership and keys to success in any endeavor. Manning’s achievements go far beyond the football field, although those are monumental. He has also built an impressive resume for his humanitarian efforts, receiving the Byron “Whizzer” White Humanitarian Award, the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2005, and the Bart Starr Award in 2015. And, of course, we all know him for his quippy TV commercials. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Peyton on board as the keynote speaker at this year’s IBE,” said Tom Martino, BPAA president. “As one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks and leading MVPs to ever grace the ranks of the NFL, Peyton represents all of the ideals we value within our own industry and continue to push the members of our association to embody everyday as we help them to find the success they strive for.���

MARKETING & TRICK SHOTS LURE MILLENNIALS Tom Shannon and Bowlmor AMF have always been on the cutting edge when it comes to promoting bowling. In June 2011, ‘Bowling, the Perfect First Date’ campaign was launched with a commercial highlighting the possibilities of bowling on a first date (view it on IBI Online/videos). Now, from New York agency Concept Farm, comes a new commercial targeting millennials to emphasize bowling for date night. The campaign, ‘Crushes It: Bowling Makes Saturday Night More Fun’ stars Jason Belmonte, the world’s top-rated professional bowler known for his twohanded style and famous trick shots. “Jason Belmonte is redefining the bowling landscape with his talent, charisma and energy. His unique style is bringing worldwide attention back to the sport and engaging a young, vibrant audience. It was only natural for us to partner with Jason for our new campaign,” said Shannon. 12

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The spot, from directors Ben Hurst and Dave Thomas, is styled as an infomercial, with Belmonte performing never-before-seen trick shots in front of a live audience. Typical Saturday night scenes, a bar, a restaurant and a nightclub, are set on a bowling lane and Belmonte bowls right through them making a strike to the cheers of the audience. Colie Edison, vice president of marketing, pointed out that the shoot was not without its risks. Everyone knew that a bowling ball rolling at a high rate of speed could easily shatter an ankle. “Jason had to throw... and remember, the goal was to not just crush the scene but to hit a strike. It was then [that] Jason got into the zone, focused and delivered,” Edison commented. It is well worth a peek at www.bowlingindustry.com/videos/crush-it. It is important to note, according to Gregg Greenberg of The Street.com, that just from 2014 to 2015, Bowlmor AMF’s fiscal revenue increased 42%. The company has definitely found its market and is crushing it!


WHAT BOWLING MEANS TO ME

Lifespire

Inspires

By Anna M. Littles

Out of necessity, Larry Hirsch became a bowling hero for special needs kids. WII veteran Larry Hirsch was a hero on the battlefield. He also was and is a hero for children and adults diagnosed with mental disabilities. A few years after his youngest daughter, Phyllis, was born in 1957, Larry and his wife began to see that the little girl was not developing like the other children her age. After consulting with doctors, he began looking around his home in Queens, NY, for help for parents with kids like Phyllis. That search led him to the Association for Children with Retarded Mental Development (ACRMD). ACRMD was founded in 1951 by Ida Rappaport, whose son was refused admission to the local public schools because he was mentally disabled. Rounding

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Larry Hirsch, with the microphone, welcomes the Lifespire League to JIB Lanes.

up parents in the same situation, she headed off to the state capital. There, Ida and the other parents campaigned successfully for change in the law so their children could be admitted. When Larry joined ACRMD, he volunteered to run the bingo games held for public outreach. Soon he was taking other parents and their disabled kids to the local bowling center on Sunday mornings. Parents now had a weekly event where their children could have fun while bowling and learning with their peers. And the parents were enjoying themselves, too. When the group, which started with 25, grew to 40, Larry turned it into a league. In the 1970s and ’80s, the state shifted from a warehousing model for the mentally disabled to a concept of creating and managing group homes for their care and social integration. As the new homes signed on with Larry’s league, it grew from 40 to 145 people. In 1974, Larry renamed the league to Lifespire and moved it to JIB Lanes in Flushing. In 2008, JIB was


WHAT BOWLING MEANS TO ME added to John LaSpina’s Maple Family Centers chain. It didn’t take long for LaSpina to embrace Larry’s vision. “In the most basic terms, Larry provides joy and inspiration to hundreds of people,” LaSpina said. “It puts the world in perspective when you see Lifespire in action. “When you think about parents who have children with special needs, their biggest concern is, ‘What will happen after I’m gone?’” he reflected. “Organizations like Lifespire answer those questions.” And LaSpina is a big fan of Larry. “At 89 years old, Larry still has passion and shows up every week to participate in Lifespire’s bowling league.” Larry’s also still at work on the Lifespire board, where he has put in more than 40 years to date. Recently he handed over the bowling league to Tom Lydon, Lifespire’s CFO. Lydon set out with LaSpina to make another dream of Larry’s come true. Every year Lifespire holds a dinner at which every league participant receives an award. For 20 years, Larry wanted to do a fundraising bowl-a-thon for the dinner and awards. This was the year.

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The successful bowl-a-thon was held at JIB Lanes in March. A big thanks to Larry Hirsch, who has inspired so many for so long. ❖

Anna M. Littles, a screenplay and freelance writer and producer originally from the Bronx, NY, now resides in Santa Monica, CA. You can see her work on YouTube, IMDB, or on her website at www.alittleLA.com.


BUSINESS

Bowlmor competitive bowling for Jim Welch, director of ke Sledz, Mi d an t, Worth marke F, AMF in the Dallas-Fort lopment at Bowlmor AM director of league deve . en Op . U.S to the 2015 welcome competitors

PROOF POSITIVE

mmitment co ng ro st its s te ra st on m Bowlmor AMF de 015 U.S. Open. 2 e th g in st ho by g lin w bo to the sport of

By Jim Goodwin ritics said it wouldn’t happen, but Bowlmor AMF is proving that the commitment they made to support both the recreational and sport side of bowling is real. Major projects like bringing back the fabled Petersen Classic Tournament, building leagues, and hosting the 2015 U.S. Open are proof that they are not a company that is only interested in birthday and corporate parties and open play casual bowling. From November 1-8, in partnership with the USBC, Bowlmor AMF Garland Lanes in Garland, TX, brought back the U.S. Open after the prestigious tournament took a hiatus in 2014. When the 276 players walked through the doors, the fans who had come to see some of the most talented bowlers in the world instantly knew that

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this was a big event which took months of planning to put together. “This is definitely a testament that we are trying to support competitive bowling,” said Mike Sledz, director of league development for Bowlmor AMF. “Our staff was totally engaged in presenting this event. We did a lot of neat things promoting the pro am. There were a lot of moving parts, but the moment you walked in the door you had to say ‘wow!’ because this looks and feels like the big event that it is.” The project was a team effort between Bowlmor AMF, USBC and BPAA, the PBA and many others. Jim Welch, director of competitive bowling for Bowlmor AMF in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, spent more than four months working with Garland Lanes general manager Mike Bonoil and his staff, USBC officials Chad


BUSINESS up the center and make sure that it was ready for one of the world’s most prestigious events. Welch was tapped to be one of the key people in presenting the event because of his extensive experience involved in more than two dozen major tournaments. A few of the past events he has worked on were the WTBA World Championships and PBA Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas, Team USA and Junior Gold events in three different locations, and PBA, Senior PBA and PWBA tournaments in Texas and Florida. Weekly meetings and conference calls were held to plan the event and hundreds of tasks had to be completed to make it a success. For example, USBC brought in

experts to perform intensive lane topography mapping for every lane of the center using the state-of-the-art Kegel Lanemapper; and the specially designed 43’ U.S. Open lane oiling pattern was revealed just before the event started on the PBA Xtra Frame channel. “The center has been great to work with,” said Murphy. “When we were here at 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. doing the topography, Mike Bonoil was right there with us. Anything we needed, they were right there for us. They have been great partners.” “This is proof positive that Bowlmor AMF is serious about the competitive side of the game; one of my charges in this job is to emphasize that message,” said Welch. “And I wouldn’t be here if they didn’t have that commitment.” A few of Welch’s other duties were obtaining and installing grandstand spectator seating, setting up a players paddock and VIP Lounge, getting prizes and setting up procedures for the pro-am, creating a tournament and media office, assisting USBC in building the set up for the television show, and much more. Three squads of pro-ams were well attended just prior to the main event starting. One very fun and interesting side show took place in a unique area of the center. It was an indoor horseshoe pit. And Welch brought in a “ringer” who kept getting ringer after ringer. Of course, it was Walter Ray Williams Jr., the pro bowler and world-class horseshoe pitcher. “This is not a professional horseshoe set-up, so it took him three or four pitches before he started getting ringers, and after that, he never missed,” Welch said with a smile. Kudos to Bowlmor AMF for its continued support of bowling in all aspects. ❖

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.

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COVER STORY

Getting the Goods By Jim Goodwin

ike everything else in bowling, the product distribution system that has been serving bowling centers for more than a century has changed. Some say downsized, while others choose streamlined. You can pick the term you like, especially over the past three decades. Thirty years ago, in 1985, there were over 50 product distribution companies, most of them mom-and-pop businesses serving local communities and regions, small and large. Today, there is a much smaller number. What happened? And is smaller better? There is no simple answer. These primarily wholesale businesses, as a group, did what all businesses in America have done. Bowling centers, pro shops and other bowling-related shops have endured some tough economic climates; a rapidly changing culture that has been shaped by the Internet and social media; migrating demographics; and other factors that have caused many once-thriving entrepreneurs to close their doors, sell to a larger competitor, or embrace new technology and techniques and hang on until the environment and conditions swing back in their favor. Everyone in the bowling business has made adjustments based on the evolution of a completely different customer model than the one that existed in the 1980s. For a half-century or more before 1980, Americans lived through a great depression, world wars, an industrial revolution, and a huge transition from rural to suburban lifestyles. When the invention of the automatic pinsetter made bowling one of America’s favorite activities in the 1950s, people could not get enough of it. Millions flocked to a newly reinvented game that catered to families, and millions more joined leagues, making

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the American Bowling Congress and the Women’s International Bowling Congress very powerful membership organizations. More and more serious bowlers meant more and more bowling balls, bags, shoes and accessories; and more capital equipment sales of lanes, pinsetters, and related equipment. Older manufacturing companies like Brunswick, AMF and Ebonite found new life, and new companies like Columbia and a few others were born to share in the wealth when plastic balls hit the market around 1960. The rise of professional bowling also had a major impact on bowling ball sales. When the PBA tour became one of the most popular sports shows on television from the 1960s into the 1990s, fans flocked to pro shops to buy the balls the pros used to win the tournaments. The effect was similar for the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour, which became the Professional Women’s Bowling Association (PWBA) in 1997. In the late 1980s and early 90s, as technology reached new levels, more companies like Storm, Turbo and a few more came on the scene, and the focus shifted from family recreation to high performance sport. But the dark cloud that first appeared around 1980 continued to claim competitive league bowlers. Cable television sports diminished the audience of the pro tours. Many centers that were built to accommodate that competitive bowler business model did not survive. The PBA lost its network television contract, and the PWBA ceased operation in 2003 (but made a muchanticipated return this year). The league bowling membership base dropped from a high mark of almost 10 million in 1980 to less than 1.7 million today. And while bowling still enjoys around 70 million recreational bowlers annually, sales of consumer products like high performance balls have dropped dramatically. The result is a smaller distribution network. Companies that manufacture and distribute those products were in a pickle. Many of them closed their businesses, and even the big guys had to make major changes. Columbia and its related brands sold to Ebonite. AMF merged with Qubica to form QubicaAMF, which combined the bowling centers and the manufacturing for a time. In 2013, AMF bowling centers were sold to Tom Shannon and Bowlmor, and are now called


COVER STORY

Bowling equipment you count on delivered by distributors you trust.

Bowlmor AMF. Today, the AMF manufacturing branch is solely owned by QubicaAMF. Brunswick, an iconic American company born in 1845, decided to divest itself of bowling completely, also selling its centers to Bowlmor in 2014, and its bowling products division to upstart Blue Arc Investments in 2015. How does all of this affect bowling distributors? It changed the entire landscape. Understanding the history helps tremendously to understand the current state of affairs for those who sell and distribute bowling products. Perhaps the most valuable service that distributors provide is the ability to inventory the huge volume of bowling balls on the market today, and it is also one of the industry’s challenges. “New ball releases are a double edged sword,” says Jimmy Land, vice president of operations for Classic Products. “We need the new product introductions to drive sales, but not all new items sell well, if at all. When we gamble wrong on a stocking order for such an item, cash and precious warehouse space are tied up. Managing distribution in our industry has become a very complicated process. Those who are left have had to apply extraordinary judgment and cash management to make it work.” Rather than speculate about the details surrounding the current distributor network, we developed a list of questions to ask a few of them. Some of their answers confirmed what we already knew, and some gave us a better picture of how they operate today and where they are headed tomorrow. What is the biggest reason that there are far fewer distributors today than in the past? Jeff Mraz, Ace Mitchell: We have fewer bowling centers to sell to. Some centers have gone out of business and some centers have sold their businesses because their real estate is worth more than their business. Bowlmor AMF is so big they buy direct from our vendors which makes even less centers to sell to. Steve Cook, Steve Cook’s Bowling Supply Company: A lot of larger distributors have purchased some of the smaller ones and also smaller momand-pop companies just could not keep up with getting the lowest price

to compete with pricing, which is very competitive and low, in my opinion. Paul DiLaura, Dilaura Brothers: I think the biggest reason (and there are many other reasons) is that there is no system of distribution in the U.S.A. There is one in Europe. Because of this, it is literally a ‘survival of the fittest’ business model. In a shrinking market, and the fact that the larger distributors are able to get the biggest discounts, there are some distributors that just can’t keep competing. Ron and Kevin Woods, Hudson Bowling Supply: Everything has changed. We started out 36 years ago when we bought 100 hammers from John Wonders, and it just grew Paul DiLaura from there. Now there are much fewer centers, but we still service about 100 centers and pro shops. There just are not as many bowlers today, but our business is still good. Jimmy Land and Mike Eid, Classic Bowling Products: There is no single, predominant reason. But the most significant is a declining market; less centers, less shops, less bowlers — especially league bowlers — have caused the market to shrink. Twenty-five years ago, there were 57 distributors. Amazon represents a considerable threat to all sorts of distribution channels, including bowling’s. Their often-stated mission is to take over for retail distribution, and eventually, in many cases, production throughout the world. Most of the manufacturers in our industry have resisted working with Amazon directly, presumably because they IBI

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COVER STORY understand that although Amazon initially approaches a market with the promise of moving product in big numbers, the other side of the coin is that they very expressly expect to devour those with whom they initially partner. A few distributors either are not aware of this threat or have chosen to ignore it for short-term gain. Consequently, a significant portion of the flow of consumer products within our industry has been moved by these distributors, from the pro shops and into the Amazon system. Joleen Lawson, LOMAR Bowling Supply: The first thing that comes to mind is that there are not 10 million sanctioned bowlers who bowl [in] leagues anymore. We have lost 90% of the consumers that used to buy equipment. Taxes are too high. Back in the day, families only needed one income to survive. Nowa-days, two incomes are needed to maintain households and pay their taxes. Just imagine if taxes dropped how much families could afford. This is another topic, but what leads me to this is when we (bowling) had tons of bowlers, look at what tax rates and cost of living were. Will the market continue to shrink? Mraz: Some distributors don’t have a contingency plan, and they’re getting older. Some distributors would like to retire, so I feel it will continue to shrink. Cook: It could grow if there were more purchases, but I see a lot of smaller ones [companies] just closing up. DiLaura: Depending on the economy, and the future of league bowling, it is very likely the number will continue to shrink. It should be noted that some distributors have been absorbed by others, so that even though the number declines, the coverage for the buying consumer remains the same. Woods: Yes, because this is a shrinking industry. Land and Eid: Yes it will. There are not enough customers to support as many as we have now. Lawson: I think it will. I think manufacturers want distribution centers that are based in areas so that they get coverage all over the U.S.A. Is there still a need for the mom-and-pop type of distributor? Mraz: I don’t think there are any more of the mom-and-pop distributors. Our industry has forced technology on all distributors, and every successful distributor has to keep moving or they can’t compete. Cook: No. There is just no way for them to compete. DiLaura: No – like in the rest of the business world today, there are hardly any mom-and-pop stores in any business. Woods: Yes, because people still want the personal touch that small companies, like ours, do so well. Land and Eid: All distribution is still very mom-and-pop in style and ownership. There are still lots of deals made with handshakes and promises. If you’re referring to technology, I don’t think the mom-and-pop type will survive the new purchasing habits of 26

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today’s tech savvy customers. We are an instant-information style society now. Everyone has almost any information they need right at their fingertips. If you’re referring to the personal relationships that mom-and-pop style forms, then absolutely yes. People like to purchase from people they like. This is the main reason we continue to have a sales force on the road, while most others have eliminated these positions to help control costs. Having the staff on the road is very expensive. We feel that it is important for us to continue this model, as our staff is key to building stronger relationships. Lawson: You know, I am going to answer this one with yes! Think about it. Think how many new products came out in the last six months. Then, think Jimmy Land about how they [customers] want one from this company and one from that company, think about the warranties, size exchanges, etc. If they had to go through the order process each time with each manufacturer, they couldn’t do it. That’s what distributors do and they are very good at it. Also, they are part of this industry that doesn’t get a lot of credit. It’s not an easy job and there are lots of really good ones that are exceptional at it. How do you work with internet partners? Mraz: Most distributors have pro shop customers that sell on the Internet through their own site, an Ebay store, an Amazon store, etc. You don’t see as many full-time shops as in the past, so consumers tend to go to the Internet for their information and sometimes buy their products there. Some of our shops have become very successful this way. DiLaura: We work with pro shops and bowling centers. They have always been the backbone of our business. Woods: We see some shops buying products on the Internet, but we really don’t worry about it too much. Almost all of them still want personal service. We sell in five states, so there is a bit of business on line. We try to keep up with Jeff Mraz it and stay ahead of it. Land and Eid: This question and the answer are very different than they were as recently as five years ago. At least 50 of our 150 top pro shop customers have adapted and learned to sell on the Internet via retail sites like Ebay or Amazon. We feel an obligation to support their efforts. Often they also maintain their original brick and mortar shop(s). They have found a way to remain viable and profitable by using the Internet to supplement


COVER STORY their sale of regular as well as closeout product. Several have done a great job of connecting their internet efforts to their shops, thereby driving more business into those shops. We are very strong technologically and have used our knowledge and contacts several times to assist our customers in streamlining their efforts. Lawson: We don’t have any partners in this business. We have product in stock, and we ship it to customers who have customers who want to buy it. I know there is talk that a lot of distributors own or are exclusive with a website or Amazon. We are not. I am amazed, however, at how many pro shops and center operators don’t really care that their distributor of choice is the main supplier for these sites. It used to be a big deal; they used to care that their throat was getting cut by the distributor who supplied the Internet. Now it doesn’t seem to bother them. The manufacturers have flooded the market with so much product, the consumer is confused. So the Internet is the answer. Not really to me, but lots of folks think that way. Everyone is scrambling for any sale they can get because there aren’t many sales to be had nowadays. How do ball companies work with distributors and pro shops? Mraz: It would be nice if the ball companies asked for more input from the distributors. I’m a huge fan of new bowling balls, but the industry has to slow down. When new balls come out, the old balls slow down or sometimes sit on our shelves until they are closed out at lower margins. Cook: They all work pretty good now with both. There could be a little more one-on-one contact with pro shops. That’s the key. They are the ones selling the balls. I just supply them, and I don’t favor one company over another. DiLaura: The ball companies make a tremendous effort with both the distributors and the pro shops to increase and encourage sales. However, with fewer balls being purchased by a fewer number of consumers, it creates a problem. The ball companies are trying to keep production numbers healthy with many ball introductions, and we are trying to keep our inventory levels reasonable. Woods: We deal pretty much with every 28

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Classic Products Corp.

Premier Bowling supply

Commerce City, CO

Kent, WA

Jayhawk bowling supply

Lawrence, KS

Steve Cook’s Bowling Supply north

Sacramento, CA

Steve Cook’s Bowling Supply South

Riverside, CA

Western Pacific Bowling Supply

Orange, CA

Newell’s Bowling Supply

Temecula, CA

Lomar Bowling supply

Russell, KS

Classic products corp.

Dallas, TX


COVER STORY

Distributors have you covered

Bob’s business

Red Wing, MN

SBI Schemm Bowling

Mitchell Sales

Farmington Hills, MI

Deerfield, WI

Bob’s business

Chicago, IL

Alley Cat Products

dilaura Brothers

Sterling Heights, MI

Ontario, NY

Ace Mitchell Bowlers Mart

Arkon, OH

Ace Mitchell east

Deer Park, NY

island bowling supply

Lindenhurst, NY

Bowlers’ supply, inc.

York, PA

Mid atlantic bowling services

Newport News, VA

Gran prix bowling supply

Classic products corp.

Ft. Wayne, IN

St. Louis, MO

Premier bowling supply

Houston, TX

Hudson Bowling Supply

Anchorman Sales, inc.

Liberty, MO

Ace Mitchell

Ace Mitchell Bowling Supply

Oviedo, FL

Classic products corp.

Largo, FL

Hudson, FL

Nashville, TN

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COVER STORY manufacturer. You need to because when people place an order they want 20 different items from 20 different companies; and if we don’t have two of them, we might lose the sale, so we try to just carry everything or find a way to get it. Land and Eid: Define the distribution channel and stick to the plan. We have seen an increase in some ball companies selling directly to the end user. This is detrimental to both the distributor Mike Eid and pro shop. There is a service that each of us provides that you don’t get when you change the sales process. The distributor carries deep inventory and has a lot invested in the product lines that the ball companies produce. Distribution is spread out across the nation to provide products in a time frame that customers expect. The pro shop is still the most important piece to this puzzle. Without holes in the ball, it’s just a ball. I would like to see ball companies invest more of their resources into the training and educating pro shop staff on how to make each product perform to its potential. Lawson: There are too many ball manufacturing companies. And don’t get me wrong, I need competition to stay alive as a Joleen Lawson

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distributor. I bet that all the ball manufacturing facilities in the U.S.A. can make what every company in the U.S. market needs by just going to two shifts. Well, we have too many ball manufacturing facilities. So, ball companies have a huge plant that needs to stay busy and they keep pumping out balls. Markets can’t handle that many balls, so the value of products goes down. That hurts us all. What percentage of your business is balls, bags and shoes versus capital equipment? Mraz: Our split is 75% consumer, 25% aftermarket. Cook: 100% balls, bags and shoes. DiLaura: The majority of our business is balls, bags and shoes. Woods: We sell inserts, rosin bags, accessories, balls, bags and shoes. Anything at all for the bowler. We don’t sell lane machines or capital equipment like some do. We just do consumer goods. Land and Eid: That is the kind of information we don’t like to share, and we are not even sure where you would classify what we call aftermarket (pinsetter parts, cleaners and conditioners, house balls and rental shoes). We will say that more than 50% of our sales is consumer products. Lawson: 100% balls, bags and shoes.


COVER STORY How has marketing changed in recent years? Mraz: Personally, I feel we give too much away. When new ‘latest and greatest’ balls come into the market, the tendency is to discount them. It seems like we’re the only industry to sell the newest available products at a discount when they first come out. Cook: It has just gotten more competitive, with everyone trying to get their piece of the pie. DiLaura: Marketing has changed a lot since the Internet and social media have made their way into all our lives. With new technology, we are able to reach hundreds of customers daily for sales information and new products. Woods: Our business is mainly family, and a couple of more people answering the phone. We call everyone back, and we answer all emails. If something Steve Cook goes wrong, we respond quickly and try our best to take care of it. Land and Eid: Marketing has changed in many avenues in recent years. Direct mail, newspapers, flyer and magazines have all seen declining circulation as Generation X is getting most of their news from their phone, tablet, computer, Facebook and Twitter. We have had to adjust our marketing to reach this new audience. E-mail, Facebook status updates, tweets and good old fashioned door-to-door have been our major forms of marketing recently. With the way technology is advancing, who knows what the next way will be? But a progressive, evolving customer changes the way they want to be communicated with, and we will be prepared to adjust our style to meet their demands. Lawson: It really hasn’t changed. We still call customers once a week and ask them what we Kevin and Ron Woods can do for them and what they need. That’s what we have done for over 50 years. We have e-mail and e-blasts and a Facebook presence. You can fax, text, call or use our website to order, but basically we do the same thing we have always done which is provide good service at a fair price to our customers and try to represent the manufacturers. We distribute professionally by being product experts on their lines. A ball company perspective In bowling, like almost all industries where consumer products are involved, the distributer is the middle man. They buy products (balls bags, shoes, etc.) from the manufacturers, sell them to the centers and pro shops at a wholesale price, where they are then sold at retail. Some seem to believe that prices would come down if the middle man were eliminated. But it is never quite that simple for many reasons. Dave Symes is the president of Storm Bowling Products, a world leader in high performance balls and other products. He helps us understand why distributors are so important. “It is true that there are more bowling balls sold online every year, but the distributor network is still a very important part of our strategy,” said Symes. “Having outlets throughout the U.S.A. is a very important channel for retailers. They warehouse products at a convenient location allowing pro 32

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shops to take less risk with inventory. It is vital to us that our products are only one or two days away from a pro shop.” Symes also points out that while Storm and other bowling ball companies sell online and through “e-tailers,” distributor inventories are the backbone of the business. “Online retailers have giant (imaginary) inventories, but they, too, work off of the real inventories of distributors. But a lot of people like the convenience of shopping online, so it is important that we are also properly represented at these virtual stores due to the amount of traffic they generate.” And Symes agrees with distributors in saying that the brick and mortar retailers (pro shops) are the most important part of the system. “A bowling ball is an unfinished product. They must be finished (drilled properly) by a local professional (retailer) no matter where they are purchased. We spend a large amount of our resources working with the retailers to enhance their business and educate them on our products and the latest drilling techniques.” Our hope in presenting the challenges faced by bowling’s middle men (and women) ��� distributors — is that they will continue to be a vital part of the resurgence of bowling. Every person we talked to for this article is passionate about not just the business of bowling but also the sport. The companies not participating in this story have similar success stories – Bowlers Supply Company, Anchorman Sales, Premier Bowling Supply, Gran Prix, Island Bowling Supply, Bob’s Business, and Strike ‘Em Bowling Supply, and perhaps others – and all perform a vital service for bowling. Paul Dilaura mentioned the difference between the American and European system of bowling product distribution. With technology leaning more to the international view, we may see a global system in the not too distant future. But until we find a way to beam bowling balls into bowler’s living rooms or directly to pro shops, America’s distributors will be needed, and pro shops will continue to appreciate the service and education they provide. ❖

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.


PROFILE

t r o h S t n e m e r i t e R

F

An un

set d e t c e p ex

of c

ances t s m u c ir

or someone like Brad Sommer, ‘retirement’ seemed a bit premature. After all, the son of a hall of fame proprietor, former women’s pro tour owner and Illinois prep bowling promoter John Sommer was just 47 years old when his high school bowling coaching days appeared to be over. He had stepped down after 21 years at his alma mater, Rockford (IL) Guilford, after winning the school’s second boys state title in four years. His son Nick would be a freshman at arch-rival Rockton Hononegah just north of town, and David Cliffe was already the coach. Since Sommer was the general manager at his dad’s Don Carter Lanes, he figured he wouldn’t coach any more. “I was resigned to the fact that I’m going to The 2015 Illinois state bowling champs.

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bri

d Som ngs Bra

mer o

By Mark Miller

me e r i t e r f ut o

nt.

just be able to sit back, watch my son bowl and do what I can to help the program,” said Sommer, a USBC Silver Level and Dick Ritger Advanced certified coach. But in September 2014, about 60 days before the start of bowling season, Cliffe resigned so he could watch his son play college football at the University of Northern Iowa. Brad Sommer “When that happened, I just couldn’t stand back and not apply for that because I knew I could help the program with their assistant coaches who were there previously,” Sommer said. Hononegah officials agreed and


PROFILE Sommer’s ‘retirement’ was over. “I took some grief from my former Guilford bowlers for having a purple coaching shirt on instead of a blue one,” Sommer said. “It wasn’t a bad situation. The Guilford kids understood my situation. They knew I was doing it because I couldn’t coach against my own son who was going to a different school. The Guilford students and parents all were understanding and the Hononegah people were very welcoming for who used to be their rivalry coach.” It also helped that many of the athletes who competed against each other in high school matches and tournaments were friends and even teammates away from that competition. While his championship team at Guilford featured one junior and the rest seniors, there were no such expectations in 2015 for Hononegah that had no seniors. “It was kind of neat to go into a season without any expectation and just kind of sneak up on the field a little bit,” Sommer said. “We won’t be able to do that so much this year.” That’s because Hononegah not only exceeded expectations; it won the state title. Which meant Brad Sommer had coached consecutive state champions at different schools. “We knew we had talent but things have to fall into place to win a state championship whether you have a young team or a team of all seniors lots of things have to go right and they did go right for Hononegah this year,” Sommer said. “We had team talent, we had team chemistry, and a great assistant coaching staff (Tony Hall and Dennis Mowry) that was able to step up and help the team. Without the dedication and great talent of these coaches the successes of my teams would not have been possible." While Nick Sommer averaged 227 for the season, he was just the third-best player on the team behind Tanner Schewe (229) and Brandon Mooney (228). Others contributing to the title were Trey Arnold (215), Clay Coogan (214) and Hall’s son Ryan (208). They were part of 26 overall players in Sommer’s first year with Hononegah which practices and hosts home meets at South Beloit’s Viking Lanes, another in John Sommer’s group of centers. They competed on the varsity and three junior varsity teams since Brad Sommer doesn’t believe in cutting high school players since they and their

Direct from Brad As involved in bowling as Brad Sommer is at the coaching and center levels, he’s extremely knowledgeable about the sport beyond his local area. That’s why IBI wanted to get his take on some bigger picture initiatives. IBI: Your dad, USBC/PWBA/BPAA hall of famer John Sommer, has been big in the In-School bowling program. Are you involved, too, and if so, what does the future hold for the program? Brad Sommer: My dad has a passion for that program for sure. Getting schoolaged kids exposed to our sport is imperative for the industry’s growth. My sister, Stacy Lambrecht, is our local In-School bowling director working with over 30 schools. She does a great job getting the teachers excited about the program. IBI: Is the USA Bowling youth program, which aims to treat youth bowling more like a sport and less like a league, growing? Brad Sommer: We have hosted USA Bowling regionals and the concept is solid. Our grade school program (more than 25 teams) models the USA Bowling format. IBI: What do you think of the new PWBA? Brad Sommer: I think it's great and long overdue. Having successful tours on both the men's and women's sides is vital to giving our sport a national platform and providing for our sport’s elite, young athletes a goal to strive for. IBI: Do you look at high school bowling as part of a pipeline to college, Team USA, and the PWBA/PBA tours? Brad Sommer: Yes, it is a pipeline for a segment of the high school bowlers, and even for those who do not go on to collegiate bowling, it provides a great high school experience. Skill development, competition, representing your school in a varsity sport and lifelong friendships are just a few of the positives that come from high school bowling. IBI: How important is it to show parents that bowling is a real sport and there are great things in college and Team USA? Brad Sommer: Promoting all that bowling has to offer is crucial. Sometimes, as bowling insiders, we forget that all the good stuff we have in our sport is not known to the masses. Sharing the great bowling story is vital for our sport. We must promote the bowling message outside the four walls of our centers. IBI: How was the tradition of bowling at Indiana University under Bob Burks in 1987 and 1988 different than coaching high school yourself? Brad Sommer: While collegiate bowling is exciting and very competitive, I find nothing can beat the energy level and team chemistry of a good high school team. IBI: How much more can high school bowling grow in Illinois? Brad Sommer: While the sport is strong at the high school level in Illinois, there is room for much more. The north and south are strong, while most towns and cities in the middle of our state have yet to embrace high school bowling. So we have room for growth.

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PROFILE families are the future of bowling. "In our area we have been fortunate to have been able to develop a strong middle school program to help feed the high school teams,” Sommer said. “And now this past season we were able to create a grade school program that proves to be a good feeder program for the middle school program.” High school bowling didn’t even exist in Rockford when Brad Sommer was growing up in the late ‘70s and into the ‘80s. He bowled in Saturday morning youth leagues at his dad’s center but wrestling was his school sport at Guilford. He bowled for Indiana University, then returned to Rockford to work in the family business before starting his long stint growing the program at his alma mater. “Youth bowling is the key to our industry’s future success,” Sommer said. “You get the youth hooked on bowling then mom and dad The proud coaches of the 2015 champions. will start to realize all great things our industry has to offer from family leagues, scholarship opportunities in college, company parties, couples’ leagues and he said. “They’ll just have to work harder than they did last year so on. It all starts with strong youth bowling programs." if they expect similar results.” With Rockford a hotbed for youth bowling, Sommer expects Since Nick is just a sophomore, Brad Sommer isn’t going his and neighboring high school programs to be very anywhere any time soon. In fact, he’d like to stay with the competitive, if not championship caliber, every year. “Like I told the guys, it will be harder to stay on top then to get to the top,”

The 2015 Illinois state champions from Hononegah.

program after his son leaves. “I’ll stay as long as they’ll have me,” he said. "High school bowling is the best thing going for the bowling industry.” ❖

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 markmywordstexas@gmail.com.

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HISTORY

By Mark Miller

M

idway between the University of Texas campus and that state’s famous capital building, resides the oldest continuing operating business in the bustling city of Austin. Most every night, Scholz Garten is packed with people who have come to eat, drink and be merry. They relish the German heritage and history of a place originally opened in 1866 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Behind the restaurant and beer garden is a separate building that houses a club founded on the love of German music, but later expanded into the centuries-old German outlet for social activity 38

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and competition, bowling. It’s a place so well hidden that many people didn’t know the Austin Saengerrunde even existed, including Milton Lindsey, a club member since 1998 and bowling club operator since 2005. “I lived two blocks away and didn’t know it was here,” said Lindsey. The group’s roots date back to the 1850s when a large number of German immigrants settled in central Texas. In 1852 they formed a chorus, and in 1879 they organized the Saengerrunde, named after a tune found in an old German song book. The club, which currently has 250 members, has celebrated its traditions and heritage ever since, including the men’s and women’s choirs that rehearse every Monday night during the school year. “It’s a singing organization with bowling,” said club


HISTORY

Club president Brian Michalk (left) with bowling club operator Milton Lindsey.

president Brian Michalk. “We have five official performances annually, and [we] also sing at churches at Christmas and other festivals throughout the year. We even sing at member’s funerals, which is very personal. There’s a lot of friendship and camaraderie to go along with food, bowling and song.” Bowling at the site dates back to 1895 when records indicate the club subleased two lanes at Scholz Garten. Leagues for men and women started in 1904, four years before the club purchased the entire complex that included Scholz’s, the bowling lanes and a building called Germania Hall from the Lemp Brewery of St. Louis. Other than upgrading the scoring, flat-screen TVs and paint, the establishment has remained virtually the same, including no heat or air conditioning beyond the approach area. Today, leagues fill all six lanes three nights a week: a five-man on Mondays, mixed doubles on Wednesdays and five-player mixed on Thursdays. There have only been two 300 games and one 800 series rolled in the club’s history. Wayne Roach has both perfect games, the first in 1995, the second two years later. Derron Lax rolled the lone 800, an 819 in 1994. The highest league average has been 208. Roach still remembers the first 300 like it was yesterday. “My knees were knocking,” he said. “I had seven good balls and a couple of lucky ones. The second [game] I had a kidney stone and was taking medicine. They said ‘we can’t allow that one because you are on drugs.’” Behind the lanes are a couple of tables and chairs that sit in front of glass cases containing plenty of league memorabilia. There’s also a small bar area where, like any German social activity, there’s always plenty of beer available. Members donate $1.50 to club funds from which each beer of their choice is purchased.

Many in the Monday Night League have long family ties. That includes Scott Wendlandt, a thirdgeneration Saengerrunde member and league participant. His grandfather Ludwig was the first, followed by his father Fred. Others, like Roach, Arlon Bindseil and Don Ellis, have been bowling on Monday nights for close to 40 years. “I’ve enjoyed it,” Bindseil said. “It’s not quite as serious as some leagues. We have some good bowlers and some not-so-good bowlers. We all feel comfortable here. There’s a lot of good people.” Dean Morrill, a member of the league for 15 years and president since 2010, truly enjoys everything about his weekly visits. “I like the fact it’s membersonly,” he said. “The fact it’s a small venue, everybody knows each other. With only six teams, you’re bowling [against] each other over and over and get to know the guys well. There’s a lot of fellowship. It’s a fun place to bowl. The beer is cheap. It makes for a lot of camaraderie. It’s a good

Enjoying the brotherhood.

way to spend a Monday.” Roach, still a member of the Monday Night League, agreed. “Everyone has been bowling together for so long they know you,” Roach said. “You know everyone so well. It’s a brotherhood thing.” ❖

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 markmywordstexas@gmail.com.

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BPAA SUMMIT PREVIEW

Aloha from Waikiki!

Come see what awaits you in Hawaii at Bowling Summit 2016.

By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

B

PAA’s 2016 Midwinter Summit in Hawaii is “a great opportunity for members, committee members and board members to join together to plan the future year as well as meet with industry partners to see new products and services that can be beneficial to their business,” states Kelly Parker, CMP, director of meetings and events at the BPAA. Mike Michalowicz, author of Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur is the keynote speaker at the Midwinter Summit on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki Beach Resort. He will share the “latest and greatest tips to dramatically grow your business using minor change.” Michalowicz says, “Small tweaks to your business can have the best impact. The key is picking the right tweaks and doing what’s different from the competition.” Parker believes that bowling center proprietors, managers and industry leaders will learn strategies for success. “They will learn how to make their business better, learn how to work with all the different generations in their daily life and in their business, as well as the new culinary trends in the marketplace. Since food and beverage is such a big part of the industry, this will provide great insights as well as being fun to watch Chef Doherty prepare food right in front of the group.” Neil Doherty, corporate chef and senior director of culinary development for Sysco Corporation, will present “Culinary Trends in the Marketplace” on Monday, Jan. 25. Chef Doherty will prepare upscale recipes he has created to complement bowling center menus. The on-trend culinary

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BPAA SUMMIT PREVIEW concepts he demonstrates will inspire attendees with great new menu ideas to implement. At age 14, Chef Doherty began working as a kitchen helper at Belleek Castle in Ballina, Ireland, and on a market gardening farm in England cultivating his love for fresh, locally grown produce. Chef Doherty attended culinary school in Galway, and advanced from commis chef to sous chef to executive chef in Ireland. He cooked his way across the United States from New York City to Texas. He worked as an executive chef in hotels, restaurants and startup kitchens, and now consults with small local restaurants, regional chains, and large international brands for Sysco. Chef Doherty has been featured in trade magazines, newspapers and national media for his creative take on ethnic and traditional cuisines. In addition to a variety of group meetings, bowling proprietors can attend a wide selection of learning labs including “Youth Bowling, An Oceanside Chat,” presented by USBC executive director Chad Murphy and IBC Youth’s director of youth marketing Roger Noordhoek. The Monday morning discussion’s takeaways will include tips on improving existing youth programs and ways to execute a non-traditional development system with the goal of attracting families outside of the current ecosystem. In Hawaii, they do things differently. In the session “Aloha Touch: The Head, Heart and Hands of Customer Service,” Ka’ala Souza will show how embracing the aloha difference is one way to make an impact of excellence through customer service. “It’s not just about what you say and do, but how you say and do it. The Aloha Touch addresses three essential components of customer service success: mindsets, attitudes and skills. Souza calls these the head, heart and hands of customer service. Align all three for The Aloha Touch to achieve happiness in both customers and engaged employees. Souza plans to cover topics such as: • Defining who and what a customer is and what “service with aloha” means. • The “value” of values: Ho’okipa, Mahalo, Aloha, Pono. • Recognizing how our mindsets affect our customer interactions. • External and internal customers. • How expectations and perceptions determine satisfaction • Understanding and exceeding your customers’ expectations. • Utilizing communication principles effectively in our customer relationships. Author Anna Liotta will present “What Makes the

Generations Tick and What Ticks Them Off.” Bowling industry leaders, managers and front-line team members must understand how to manage, sell, and serve in a multigenerational marketplace. In many workplace environments, six generations are collaborating, competing, and often colliding. When they collide, bowling centers lose valuable team members, customers, and money. In a fast-paced, highly-interactive program, Liotta guides attendees to unlock their full potential by discovering why each generation’s diverse perspectives, gifts and talents are essential to creating a high-performance team and how to recognize the generational CODES in action and transform them from an obstacle to an opportunity. In his keynote, “Profit First,” on Tuesday, Jan. 26, author Mike Michalowicz will explain a profoundly simple, yet shockingly effective, accounting plug-in that will transform your business from a cash-eating monster into a money-making machine. Michalowicz will reveal why the GAAP accounting method is contrary to human nature, trapping entrepreneurs in the panicdriven cycle of operating check-to-check and will explain why this new method is the easiest and smartest way to ensure your business becomes wildly (and permanently) profitable from your very next deposit forward. BPAA’s Parker believes that, “BPAA’s Midwinter Summit 2016 is a great networking event, and, with it being in Hawaii, we are hoping that attendees will treat it as a vacation as well and come enjoy the island. The luau will be the closing event, and it is included in registration.” Entertainment by The Waikiki Starlight Luau includes traditional Hawaiian music and Polynesian chants, fire dancers, and hula kahiko performers. Start 2016 off right by learning strategies for success in Hawaii at BPAA’s Midwinter Summit. ❖ 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 Awardwinning 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.

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FEATURE

By

ax tS r e b Ro

Andretti Indoor Karting and Games, along with US Bowling, rev up a racing look for a new FEC.

M

ario Andretti is considered by many to be the greatest racecar driver in the history of the sport. A fierce and versatile competitor, he is the only driver to have won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Formula One World Championship, three of the most prestigious titles in racing. Andretti’s versatility extends to his business ventures, which include a winery, a petroleum company and several FECs centered on indoor kart racing. In October 2015, Andretti Indoor Karting and Games opened its second location in the metro Atlanta area. While there’s lots of karting action, customers may be surprised that just inside the doors the first attraction is new boutique bowling lanes. “Boutique bowling is hot right now. We really wanted to get in on that,” says Randy Schneider, general manager of the new location. Karting is the signature activity, but Schneider says customers often spend the entire day at the FEC and enjoy a variety of experiences. “We had the space available to us and had a great idea of putting a large beautiful bar right at the front door, attached to our bowling area,” says Schneider. Andretti Karting engaged US Bowling to develop the visual concept for the 12-lane installation, which features 10-pin string pinsetters and a Pulse scoring system from US Bowling. “We wanted something custom that you couldn’t walk into another bowling alley and find,” says Schneider. “We wanted something 44

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that was racing-oriented as well.” Mike Conejo, creative director for US Bowling, really put the pedal to the metal and delivered a themed environment with plenty of visual horsepower. First and foremost, he eschewed traditional maple-look laminate and customized the lanes to look like sections of racetrack.

“The custom lanes are pretty cool. It’s more of an asphalt racing environment, with photorealistic asphalt with burnouts in the approach area. The whole design screams ‘Andretti!’” he says. Conejo also designed custom masking units with auto


FEATURE

racing images; under blacklight the car headlights glow as if racing in the night. On the reverse side of the panels is the Atlanta skyline, allowing Andretti management to switch up the visuals whenever they want. The custom look is carried over to the seating areas. “They wanted their Andretti Karting logo on the side of [every] coffee table,” says Conejo. “We used a CNC router to cut the Andretti logo in it, and the whole table will light up with LED lighting.” Schneider, who previously helped launch and run Disney’s ESPN Zone FEC chain, knows the value of a creative themed environment. “People are going to have the wow factor when they are bowling on it,” he says. The new 100,000-square-foot FEC is located in a mall in suburban Marietta, close to the Big Chicken restaurant, a local landmark. Along with bowling, guests can drive electric go-karts, capable of reaching speeds up to 60 mph on two Andrettidesigned multi-level tracks. There will also be laser tag, arcade games, racing simulators, a ropes course and a full bar and restaurant. An additional bar, the domed Sky Bar, will overlook the kart tracks, so guests can follow the action while enjoying their favorite drinks. In addition to its first indoor center in Roswell, GA, the company owns and operates the Andretti Thrill Park in Melbourne, Florida. It features five go-kart tracks, miniature golf, laser tag, rock wall, ropes course, family spinning coaster, batting cages, Andretti Challenge super-karts, paddle boats, kiddie rides and the largest arcade on Florida’s Space Coast. “Since opening the first Andretti entertainment facility in 1999, our primary focus has always been to offer our valued guests the latest state-of-the-art attractions,” said John

Andretti, Mario’s nephew and a winning NASCAR driver. To date, the Andretti facilities have entertained more than 13 million guests. “Be different” is Schneider’s mantra for FEC success, and the custom racing look says “different” and “fun” from the get-go. “We always knew we wanted [the lanes] to be a centerpiece, to be the first thing that people saw,” Schneider says. “It needs to be a custom experience. We give excellent guest service and have an experience the guests can’t get anywhere else and that will bring them back.” Fun lovers, start your engines. ❖

Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.

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SHOWCASE WANT TO GET SHANGHAIED?

Escapology is the premier international attraction company specializing in live escape games. Guests must race against the clock to find clues, solve puzzles and escape within 60 minutes! Escapology offers a turn-key franchise opportunity that fits into an upscale FEC concept. The newest craze for friends, families and corporate groups. For more information, contact Eric Wigginton at 863-521-5191 or email eric.wigginton@esscapology.com, or visit www.escapology.com.

REAL-MONEY BOWLING CONTESTS

Rolltech, the app-based global bowling competition and analytics platform, has announced the launch of a groundbreaking, skill-based network to connect bowlers around the country for daily, real-money bowling contests. Rolltech Action Bowling is not a fantasy-sports competition; players match their own physical bowling skills against other competitors. League

NEW KID-ORIENTED GAMEPLAY

LAI Games, a subsidiary of Helix Leisure, introduced its newest kid-oriented, 2-player game, High Five, at IAAPA 2015, in November. The concept is simple and easy to play. “With High Five, kids get that two-player, energetic gameplay experience tailored to them in a flashy little cabinet, with the addition of rewarding, high-five hitting sound effects with each button press,” describes Shannon Perell, R&D manager. For more information, please visit www.LAIGames.com.

FUN BIRTHDAY SOCKS

Expert Hosiery/Funtime Footwear says, ”Check out our New Birthday Socks. Centers have told us that goodie bags have lower quality items in them. So, why not send them home with high quality ‘so soft’ birthday

bowlers in connected Rolltech Partner Centers can use verified league scores to compete in daily bowling contests. Rolltech is available for download on the App Store or Google Play. For more information, visit rolltechbowling.com.

BOWLING PIN GIFT IDEA

WineOvation offers a novel holiday gift for the bowing enthusiast. No more boring wine openings with this bowling pin powered bottle opener. The Bowling Pin resembles a regulation bowling pin in shape and opens a bottle of wine in seconds with a push of the button. A power adapter is included. Definitely unique, a conversation piece and does the job! The Bowling Pin Powered Bottle Opener is available at www.WINEOVATION.com.

A FOOTBALL FAN’S DREAM GAME

socks, in ages 4 to 10 years?” Funtime Footwear is a better source for socks for bowling, skating and FECs. Mix and match Birthday, Glow and Athletic socks by the dozen. Call 919-7997707; email support1@experthosiery.com; or visit www.funtimefootwear.com.

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Bay Teck Games and new partner Zymo introduced Gridiron Blitz at IAAPA. It uses new technology never seen before in the Bay Tek portfolio. In a play-value, interactive game, players follow football drills on a large 60” monitor. If a player advances through all three levels, they win the jackpot. For more info, contact Holly Hampton at hhampton@baytekgames.com.


REMEMBER WHEN

HO, HO, HO! Here comes Santa Claus, Here comes Santa Claus, Right down Santa Claus Lane…

Y

es, the key word here is ‘lane,’ as in bowling, as in bowling presents. AMF Bowling, in 1964, and Brunswick Corporation, in 1962, knew what kids of all ages wanted to find on Christmas morning. They wanted bowling shoes, bowling bags and bowling balls, a plethora of gifts, textured and stylish, colorful and coordinated, that the two big companies had in abundance. However, not to rely too much on ol’ St. Nick, each company through their ads made sure that everyone knew where to go to get his or her hoped-for gifts. That’s the beauty of advertising!

…Bells are ringin, children singin, All is merry and bright. So hang your stockings and say your prayers, Cause Santa Claus comes tonight. We, at IBI, wish you a sled full of happiness and a New Year full of bowling. ❖

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REMEMBER WHEN

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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 • Fax: (714) 522-0576

EQUIPMENT FOR SALE 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. 24 lanes of used Anvilane Pro (glow) removed from center. LANE ONLY – Foul Line to Pindeck. Does not include approaches, pindecks, or underlayment. Just the lane-only panels. $25,200.00 USD. Located in Dearborn Hts., MI 48125. Ken Smoltz, cell (734) 516-9151. REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751. NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.

WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BOWLINGFAN 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 50

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FOR SALE: Phoenix Lane Machine, $2,500; 30 lanes Mitsubishi Media Mask, $2,000; Brunswick Rock Worx speakers, large & small, call for pricing; Blacklight Bulbs, bulk purchase only, 50 - $12, 100 - $10; Custom Vinyl Couches, bright multi-colors, like new, $1,000/settee, $500/per; refurbished, like new ZOT Lustre King ball polisher, $3,000; 24 B2000 Hood/Rack, $550; Brunswick & AMF powerlifts, rebuilt $850, as is $550; PhotoStrike Reservation Station; 40 Steltronic monitors, granite case, take all, $1,000 OBO; 42’ Steltronic flat screens; 16 lanes complete Qubica Scoring $2,250; 24 lanes complete Excel Scoring $1,500; HPL Panels, spare panels or complete lanes, call for availability; A2 pinsetters, complete or for parts. Or Make Offer. (719) 251-1616

EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.

SERVICES AVAILABLE 46” Inflatable Bowling Pins. Great Birthday Party Gift! Use Code PartyPin and save 20% today (expires 2/16). bowl.gameops.com. Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.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

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CLASSIFIEDS

LOCKER KEYS FAST! All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: huff@inreach.com TOLL FREE

1-800-700-4539

SERVICES AVAILABLE ATTENTION!! AMF 82-30s, 3930/4400 chain drive chassis owners: Converting your chassis to 5850 or 6525 chassis is possible!! Call the Chassis Doctor (330) 314-8951.

CENTERS FOR SALE NW PENNSYLVANIA: 24-lane center in Bradford, PA. Building is 20,000 s/f with lounge, snack bar & pro shop. 90 minutes from Buffalo, NY, and Erie, PA. Owner looking to retire. For video tour and information, go to: www.byllyelanes.net/forsale. 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. CENTRAL OHIO: 16-lane profitable Brunswick center with nightly leagues, lounge and snack bar. In fastest-growing and highest-income county in Ohio. Call Debra (740) 369-3451.

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CLASSIFIEDS

WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/BOWLINGFAN 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

SEL L

BUY

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 - daryl@tuckerbowling.com

www.tuckerbowling.com

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CLASSIFIEDS CENTERS FOR SALE 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. WESTERN WASHINGTON: 32-lane center in urban area with colleges and military nearby. Strong revenue with upside potential. A-2s, HPL, Frameworx scoring. Real estate includes extensive recent upgrades. Large building with generous parking included. Ken Paton, (503) 645-5630. NORTHERN INDIANA: 20-lane center w/ AMF 82-70s, Brunswick FrameworX returns, Steltronic scoring and synthetic lanes. Also, snack bar with beer & wine license. Call Ken (574) 293-1632. EASTERN NORTH DAKOTA: 6-lane Brunswick center, bar & grill, drive-thru liquor store in small college town. Also, 3 apartment buildings with 40 units, good rental history. Call (701) 330-7757 or (701) 430-1490. WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA: One of the top five places to move! Remodeled 32lane center. Good numbers. $3.1m gets it all. Fax qualified inquiries to (828) 253-0362.

CENTERS FOR SALE SOUTHWEST KANSAS: Well-maintained 8lane center, A-2s, full-service restaurant. Includes business and real estate. Nice, smaller community. Owner retiring. $212,000. Leave message (620) 397-5828. OHIO, Archbold: 12-lane Brunswick center on 1.81 acres w/ 13,440 s/f commercial bldg. Plus QubicaAMF scoring system, pro shop with eqpt. & restaurant/bar area with eqpt. & fixtures. Asking 189,900.00. Contact lshirkey@fmbank.com or (800) 451-7843 x 15290.

CENTERS FOR SALE NE MINNESOTA: Food, Liquor & Bowling. Established 8 lanes between Mpls & Duluth w/ large bar, dining room, banquet area. Two large State employment facilities nearby. High six-figure gross. Call Bryan (218) 380-8089. www.majesticpine.com.

CENTRAL ILLINOIS: PRICED TO SELL!! 8-lane center with AMF 82-70s, full-service restaurant, pro shop. Plus pool tables, karaoke machine & DJ system. Asking $125,000.00 with RE. (217) 351-5152 or toms-uvl@sbcglobal.net. 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.

NW KANSAS: 12-lane center, AS-80s, Lane Shield, snack bar, pro shop, game & pool rooms. See pics and info @ www.visitcolby.com or contact Charles (785) 443-3477. NE ARIZONA: 12-lane Brunswick center, new scoring, room to add 4 more lanes. 14,201-square-foot building. 2.41 ac. Food, & #6 liquor license. Growing area: Hdepot, Lowes, & Super Walmart. Appraisal done. 21,780 cars pass by daily. Family owned 21 yrs. Owner retiring. See Pics at Covey Luxury Properties. Call Bryan (928) 521-2681. APPRAISALS: LARRY DOBBS MAI, ASA. (214) 674-8187. Bowlingvaluations@yahoo.com. 16-lane center in Southern Colorado mountains. Great condition. 18,000 s/f building w/ restaurant & lounge. Paved parking 100+ vehicles. Established leagues & tournaments. $950,000 or make offer. Kipp (719) 852-0155.

SELL YOUR CENTER

(818) 789-2695

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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: mike@bowlingscorer.com



Ibi december15 complete issue