8 SHORTS • ZOT’s ColorSplash promotion aids BVL’s fundraising efforts. • Downtown Disney, Anaheim, says hello to Splitsville. • Uphoff Ventures’ Uptown Alley is on the move in the U.S. and China. • David L. Cherry, CEO of U.S. Polychemical Corp. passes at 86.
26 COVER STORY It Takes A Village The combined efforts driving the growth of the youth bowling industry. By Sean Krainert
BEYOND BOWLING 38 Better Than A 42 Should We or
48 Interesting Interview
A Merger US Bowling buys Murrey International.
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57 Classifieds 18 FEATURE Bowling in the Great White North Todd Britton and Bowl Canada are swinging for the fences in hockey’s homeland. By Robert Sax
SUBSCRIPTION RATES: One copy of International Bowling Industry is sent free to every bowling center, independently owned pro shop and collegiate bowling center in the U.S., and every military bowling center and pro shop worldwide. Publisher reserves the right to provide free subscriptions to those individuals who meet publication qualifications. Additional subscriptions may be purchased for delivery in the U.S. for $50 per year. Subscriptions for Canada and Mexico are $65 per year, all other foreign subscriptions are $80 per year. All foreign subscriptions should be paid in U.S. funds using International Money Orders. POSTMASTER: Please send new as well as old address to International Bowling Industry, 12655 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, CA 91604 USA. If possible, please furnish address mailing label. Printed in U.S.A. Copyright 2017, B2B Media, Inc. No part of this magazine may be reprinted without the publisher’s permission.
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ß BITS & PIECES ß ß ß
SEGA turns to Intercard
INTERNATIONAL BITS Funlab is set for growth spurt Australian private equity firm Next Capital is poised to invest in the entertainment group Funlab, the company behind the Strike Bowling chain and indoor trampoline park Sky Zone. Next has bought out Funlab’s minority shareholders and plans to back Funlab chief executive and founder Michael Schreiber’s future growth plans. Funlab makes about $10 million in earnings and was established by Schreiber in 2001. Strike Bowling is Australia’s largest privatelyowned bowling chain. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Get Going Program Staying on the Australian continent, local associations from across Queensland, a northeastern state, are set to receive over $42,000 in funding from the Queensland government’s Get Going program. The funding will assist six local associations in purchasing equipment, including carpets, and educating coaches to deliver Tenpin Bowling Australia’s (TBA) new junior participation program, Bowl Patrol, and the successful Roll ‘N’ Strike program. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Hollywood Bowl stock is on the climb Hollywood Bowl, the UK’s largest operator of tenpin bowling sites, said that sales rose by almost a quarter in its first full-year results as a listed company. It listed on the London stock market in September 2015, and its stock has since risen 15 per cent on the back of the growing popularity of the sport in the UK. Hollywood Bowl has refurbished several of its sites as it seeks to transform traditional bowling centers into modern amusement complexes. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Intercard, Inc. was selected by SEGA Amusements to install Intercard iReader Wave Eclipse, iTellers and iCashier POS systems at SEGA’s first complete center, the Prize Zone, located near London. The Prize Zone is the latest concept, incorporating industry-leading redemption games, encouraging participants to play, win tickets and collect prizes.
ON THE HOME FRONT Special Effects Creative Works partnered with Laserforce to build interactive military props that were featured on Top Gear, a BBC America TV show. Owner Jeff Schilling used his Corvette to figure out how to safely mount the props. The filming was done at the Fallon Naval Air Station in Nevada. Laserforce assisted in the final preparations of affixing the equipment to a Dodge Viper ACR and a Chevy Corvette Z06. The segment was Top Gear, season 23, episode 1. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Go Bowling.com Strike Ten’s Go Bowling will once again be title sponsor of the PWBA Players Championship, the second major tournament of the 2017 PWBA Tour season. In addition, Go Bowling has also partnered with NASCAR to sponsor the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway, the NFL Foundation and NFL Legends Community, as well as events on the PBA tour.
IN REMEMBRANCE David L. Cherry, CEO of U.S. Polychemical Corporation in Chestnut Ridge, NY, died on Dec. 11, 2016 at the age of 86. He founded the company in 1956 and was active until the end. Cherry was also the owner of New City Bowl in New City, NY. A graduate of Michigan State University, Cherry was civically active and a member of Spring Valley Rotary, the Knights of Columbus, and belonged to the Masonic Temple for 60 years. Cherry and his wife, Merelann, have been residing in Frenchmans Creek, Palm Beach Gardens, FL, since 1989. He is survived by his wife of 62 years and three daughters. 8
øøø Craig Doren, founder of CBS Services, Sioux City, IA, died this past December of Leukemia. Doren was well known for his knowledge of AMF Legacy Scoring Systems. Glenn Hartshorn said, “Tough competitor… His customers were loyal to the end. That says a lot.” Robbin Champlin, independent installer and A2 service technician, also died. “Robbin was of that rare breed of mechanics who could listen to a machine and diagnose the problem,” shared Glenn Hartshorn of New Center Consulting, Inc.
AND BVL LIGHT UP LANES AND LIVES
ZOT Pinsetter Parts will donate a percentage of its annual ColorSplash LED Effects Lighting System sales in 2017 to Bowlers to Veterans Link (BVL). “We are excited and proud to have the opportunity to support an organization which does so much to brighten the lives of America’s active duty and veteran service men and women,” said Steve Szabina, sales manager of ZOT. The promotion will run January 1, 2017 through the calendar year. “Thanks to our friends at ZOT, BVL will have another vehicle to add to our 2017 fundraising campaign activities,” shared John LaSpina, BVL board chairman. “ZOT’s offer will provide a unique chance for proprietors to brighten their centers and the lives of our veterans.” Founded in 1942, BVL has raised almost $50 million to date in support of America’s veterans.
PEOPLEWATCHING Brunswick Bowling has made some changes to the U.S. sales team in the Capital Equipment division. Effective immediately, Derek Ransom has been named regional modernization sales manager and Mike DuCharme has been appointed area sales manager/manager of U.S. electronic sales. Ransom will be responsible for the capital equipment sales Mike DuCharme in Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, as well as directing the sales managers for the southeast region. Ransom has been with Brunswick since 2005. DuCharme will take on sales responsibility for Alabama, Florida and Georgia and will aid the U.S. modernization team with Sync technical sales support. DuCharme joined Brunswick Derek Ransom in 2015. Rick Rochetti, director of sales for Bay Tek Games, announced that Mark Lenske has become Bay Tek’s international sales manager. Lenske has been with the company for 14 years as Midwest account manager and 27 years in the amusement industry, along with working for TouchTunes and Shaffer and Moss distributing. Lenske will be focused on worldwide sales, while working closely with Lance Treankler to help grow the Latin American market.
Lots went on at the end of 2016! Here’s just a sample: First created in 2011, the Howard County Bar Association has raised more than $13,000 for the Howard County Police Foundation. This year the event was held at Brunswick Columbia Lanes, Columbia, MD. Funspot, Laconia, NH, was the venue for All Brite Cleaning and Restoration’s annual bowling tournament to benefit the Salvation Army. Strike and Spare Fountain Lanes, Knoxville, TN, threw a Christmas party for low-income families to bring the holiday celebration to those who may not have presents under the tree. The inaugural David Erickson Memorial 9-Pin tournament was held at Larry’s Lucky Strikes in Ironwood, MI, to raise funds to develop youth bowling in the area. $9,000 was raised by the law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl in Charleston, WV, at its annual Friends of Shohl Bowl that benefits selected charities in the area. The event was held at Galaxy Lanes.
A burglary at Victory Lanes in Kankakee, IL, took the $342 in funds held in a jar and earmarked for a woman with breast cancer, who was also a bartender at the center. When the community became aware of the loss, over $1,200 was donated in response. A Help-R-Heroes no-tap bowling tournament was held at LeRoy Legion Lanes in LeRoy, NY, at the American Legion Post #576. The proceeds will benefit the wounded soldiers returning home. A group of Brigham City, UT, third-graders was the driving force behind a fundraiser to help the family of fallen Utah Highway Patrol trooper Eric Ellsworth. The staff at Foothill Elementary School helped plan a two-night bowling fundraiser at Family Fun Center in Brigham City. Best Buddies California held Bowling for Buddies at Pinz Bowling Center, Studio City, CA. Over 200 Best Buddies participants, their families and celebrity supporters joined in. Enjoying the fun were Cindy Crawford, actor Michael Chiklis and Miss California USA, to name a few. What is your center doing? Email Patty Heath at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXPANSIONS, OPENINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
THE WORLD …
Uphoff Ventures has expanded its footprint; the company’s Uptown Alley opened in December in Changzhou, China, with four more bowling and entertainment venues being developed. The $10 million, 58,000-square-foot venue features over 36 Brunswick lanes, billiards, a sports theater with 50 high-definition televisions, a professional sound stage for live entertainment, 60 arcade games and two additional, full-service restaurants, offering casual Western cuisine blended with traditional Chinese dishes. Uphoff is also busy in the U.S. With two facilities in Virginia and Arizona, the company now has two locations in development: Virginia Beach, scheduled for a mid-2017 opening; and another in White Plains, NY, still in the planning stage. *** Hamilton, New Zealand has an old, new destination. Bowlevard bowling center has been refurbished and is now Bowl and Social. With $1.6 million invested, there are 20 refurbished lanes, new bowling balls and shoes, as well as a new kitchen and bar. All the scoring has been updated and there is also a private bar area for corporate functions.
THE MOUSE MEETS SPLITSVILLE Splitsville, known for its upscale bowling and dining/entertainment complexes, will roll into Downtown Disney at the Anaheim Disneyland Resort in late 2017. It will encompass four stories and will replace the House of Blues which closed in 2016. There is a Splitsville complex in Orlando’s Disney Springs, along with six other locations across the country. The Downtown Disney venue will be the first in California and will offer dining, bowling and live entertainment with 600 restaurant seats, a large outdoor patio and two full-service bars, and an additional 20 luxury bowling lanes.
DUCKPIN MIGRATION II In the October 2016 IBI, duckpins were spotted in Wauwatosa, WI. In the December 2016 IBI, Pins Mechanical Company brought duckpins to Columbus, OH. The October 2014 IBI celebrated the Atlanta opening of the Painted Pin. Now, The Painted Duck, a spin-off of The Painted Pin, Justin Amick’s boutique bowling alley in Buckhead, GA, is anticipating a May or June 2017 opening in Atlanta. The new venue will offer 18 lanes for duckpin bowling with food and an arcade. Amick and his business partner William Stallworth are billing the venture as a “distinguished drinkery, duckpin bowling, and gaming parlor,” with cuisine from Chef Thomas Collins described as “backyard bar fare.” I guess we’ll have to go when it opens to find out what backyard bar fare is. These two entrepreneurs are definitely on a roll.
MAIN EVENT: EAT. BOWL. PLAY. Dallas-based Main Event Entertainment is one of the fastest-growing, bowlinganchored restaurant and entertainment brands in America. 2017 will see eight new locations; the most current opening is in Orlando, FL, which included V Play Reality from Australian-based company Zero Latency. This cutting-edge game allows players to walk, run, and work their way through wildly different virtual terrains. Other locations under construction include Suwanee, GA; Indianapolis, IN; Humble, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Gilbert, AZ; Kansas City, KS; and Knoxville, TN. By mid-2017, Main Event projects to have 37 centers across the country.
ALSO HAPPENING Bowlmor’s Bowlero has two new centers to its name, one in Buffalo Grove and one in Naperville, both in Illinois. They were both previously Brunswick Zones. Florida-based GameTime has leased 35,000 square feet for an FEC in a mixed-use entertainment destination, One Daytona, being developed by International Speedway Corporation in Daytona, FL. GameTime has eight Florida locations, two with mini bowling. However, this is its first delve into traditional tenpin bowling. There will be arcade games, prize machines, 60-plus flat-screen televisions, 12 full lanes of bowling, along with a bar and full-service restaurant. Sheffield Lanes in Aliquippa, PA, is no longer a bowling center. Owners Rick and Jeannie D’Agostino have reinvented it. It is now a bowling alley, bar, music venue, pizza shop and cigar club. Rick, who walked away from a lucrative law career, realized that being just a bowling center was no longer viable. While not everything for everyone, it certainly can take care of most. The former Baldwin Bowling Center is now the new and improved Lake Country Lanes in Milledgeville, GA. Owners Bob and Cynthia Binkley have upgraded and remodeled the center, including Strikers Lounge and Sports Bar.
US Bowling buys Murrey International.
By Robert Sax S Bowling Corporation announced in January that it has purchased full ownership of Murrey International Bowling Company in an all-cash deal. The acquisition gives US Bowling access to Murrey's popular product line and vast distributor network. It’s the culmination of US Bowling’s long-running relationship with Murrey International, which has provided it with world class bowling lanes for nearly 15 years. The deal first began to take shape in early 2016, when the Murrey family decided to exit the bowling business and began looking for a buyer. Bowling equipment was just a part of the family holdings, and they wanted to take advantage of a hot Los Angeles commercial real estate market by selling their industrial buildings. Patrick Murrey, president of Murrey International, talked to several potential buyers before moving ahead with Daroll and David Frewing of US Bowling. The decision was strongly influenced by the Murreys’ desire to sell to another successful family-run business. Murrey believes family businesses are superior to public or large companies that may lose the desire to go the extra mile to take care of their customers and provide good service. “Quite frankly, I was concerned about who would take over our contracts, who would take over our warranties and things like that. I wanted somebody that would really do a good job and keep the name going in the same kind of quality fashion that we've been used to,” he says. “Coming from a family business,
I know that Dave and Daroll Frewing, a lot of the values, I think, are the same and their thoughts about running a business and loyalty to their customers.” Assets acquired from Murrey in the deal will be moved from Los Angeles to US Bowling's facility close by in Chino, CA. David Frewing, president of US Bowling, has said that the Murrey brand will live on as "It has great value worldwide.” Several of Murrey’s key personnel, including national sales manager Bill Snoberger, will continue with the enhanced company. "For Murrey customers, it's business as usual,” said Frewing. Founded in 1938 by the late Gordon Murrey, Murrey International has been a leader in the world of bowling for nearly 80 years. It has developed a line of world class products used for modernization or new center construction; thousands of its synthetic lanes are installed in centers around the world. The deal will also bring custom furniture and masking units and new pinspotters to US Bowling, allowing it to offer customers a complete new bowling center package that is competitive with any supplier in the world. While Murrey thinks consolidation among suppliers is inevitable in the current bowling industry, he believes a beefedup US Bowling will be a good thing for proprietors. “It really gives them more of a third choice for a larger and stronger company because now [US Bowling] has more than doubled in size,” says Murrey. “I think they will be a stronger player, more
BUSINESS of a contender in this industry, and I think that's a benefit to everybody in the industry.” Opened in 1994, US Bowling calls itself the largest independent builder of new bowling centers, bowling lounges and mini-bowling attractions in the United States. After 27 years in the bowling industry, founder Daroll Frewing had a vision for a company that would offer proprietors an independent single source for capital equipment and construction that combined the best products from all of the manufacturers under one contract. Daroll’s son David joined him in the company and together they established a reputation for top customer service and great equipment. US Bowling also became known for its expertise in the art of pinsetter re-manufacturing. When analyzing the Murrey deal, the Frewings found that the two companies had different customer bases with minimal overlap. They are confident that they will be able to retain a large percentage of Murrey’s business while expanding their overall business. “We will now be able to compete with anybody in a full-line of new bowling capital equipment,” says David. “That’s going to be huge.” Patrick Murrey and his brothers are looking forward to relaxing, fishing and
From L to R. David Frewing, Patrick Murrey and Daroll Frewing.
enjoying more time with their own families. But he acknowledges that selling a family business is bittersweet. “It's a little bit emotional in a sense because my grandfather started the business... but all good things come to an end,” he says. “I'm third generation. The fourth generation of our children, they're all professional.” Meanwhile US Bowling is a comparatively youthful 22 years old, and David Frewing says its core team consists of “30-40-somethings” who are just hitting their stride. He and Daroll are excited about the many possibilities of their expanded company, from serving Murrey’s many customers in the U.S. military to increasing their international business. “The Murrey purchase solidifies that we are really committed to the bowling business and will be in the bowling business for a long time,” says David. “We are all in.” ❖
Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
Todd Britton and Bowl Canada are swinging for the fences in hockey’s homeland. By Robert Sax rothers Bob and Doug McKenzie were the fictitious Canadian everymen who entertained Canadian and American audiences on Second City TV in the 1980s. In a scene from their 1983 comedy film Strange Brew, Bob McKenzie wanders a barren Canadian landscape in his pajamas and a hockey helmet following a nuclear apocalypse. “There wasn’t much to do,” Bob laments. “All the bowling alleys had been wrecked.” In reality, bowling in the real Great White North is alive and well and doing better today than it has in years. There are an estimated 600 bowling centers, of which 300 belong to Bowl Canada, the country’s counterpart to the BPAA. Bowl Canada has undergone a revival in recent years and Todd Britton, its president, has been leading it. Britton is now in his third year at the top post and is a natural leader who can build consensus, according to Paul Oliveira, the association’s executive director. “He’s led the charge to updating many of our traditional offerings. [He’s] been a crucial influence in modernizing our sport and industry,” says Oliveira. Canadian centers offer several different types of bowling, depending on the region they call home. Five pin bowling, which originated in Ontario, is the most popular and wide-spread game. Ten pin is available in about one-sixth of the centers nationwide, while duck pin rules in Quebec and candle pin is the game in the eastern provinces. With that many games as well as different languages and cultures, Britton notes, “We've got a lot of challenges.” As with many proprietors, Britton has a family connection to bowling. His father, Brian Britton,
owned Winnipeg’s iconic Academy Bowling Center, a converted 1930s movie palace. “Like many kids that grow up in the industry, I hung out with my dad,” says Britton. “I think I started going to work with him when I was 12 doing odd jobs. I was lucky that I felt passionate about the industry at a young age.” Britton, 40, now runs the family’s three bowling centers, all located in Winnipeg. He’s become a major player in the industry, taking advantage of the opportunities to acquire additional centers. “There's a lot of people that are much older, looking to get out. They know that we're reasonably successful Todd Britton, president of Bowl Canada. so they call us first,” says Todd. He also became an industry leader and advocate early on. “Winnipeg had a city [bowling] association and I became president of that quite quickly. I think I was probably about 22 and I led that organization for quite some time. Then just moved up the ranks, became provincial president. Just have always tried to give back to the industry." As a provincial president, Britton attended the general meetings of Bowl Canada as a member of the board, and soon developed a good reputation on the national scene. At the time the Bowl Canada board consisted of 1820 people from across the country. Unfortunately competing regional interests often stymied consensus and stalled innovation that might have helped the industry modernize nationwide. “A lot of great ideas, and a lot of great things that people wanted to accomplish never really made it,” says Britton, “because nobody had a national view when we looked at issues.” That situation improved dramatically when the Canadian government changed the governance rules for non-profit organizations in 2009. “Many organizations didn't take advantage of the new legislation to modernize their associations. They're still stuck with a stagnant governance model that isn't allowing them to grow,” says Britton. “[The Bowl Canada] board of continued on page 22...
FEATURE ...continued from page 18
Paul Oliveira, executive director of Bowl Canada
directors took it as an opportunity and really modernized the way that it did its business.” The transition meant that representatives of provincial associations could advise the national board but could no longer serve on it. That allowed Bowl Canada to create a smaller, more focused board with
a national point of view. Britton says a lot of the credit has to go to those people that said, ‘Hey listen, we're not working. We need to give up some of our power and have people look at this on a national basis.’ “When we made those changes, we made them really for the better and to see our association grow and change,” Britton says. “I think that was really beneficial for us and really hats off to them for being that open to that kind of change.” One big step the board took was to rebrand Bowl Canada with a new logo and a new website, which aided them in creating a new image for the industry. “[The old logo] was stale. It hadn't been changed in 20 years,” says Britton. Although bowling proprietors loved a lot of the things that Bowl Canada did, the sport wasn’t appreciated outside the industry. They needed to create a brand that looked good to corporate Canada, to people that weren't inside the industry." “Now, it looks like we know what we're doing. Before it looked like we were a home office,” says Britton. Although the new branding was controversial among some Bowl Canada members, Britton stuck with it. “We said to them, ‘This wasn't necessarily to make you feel better, it's to sell outside of our industry. To get other people participating with us.’" As a result, an increasing number of companies from inside and outside bowling have inquired about corporate sponsorships. “Even typical industry partners like AMF have sponsored some of the events that are national, where they had never done that in the past,” says Britton. “Other suppliers in Canada are taking notice and becoming The Bowl Canada board, from the left: Paul Oliveira, executive director; Colleen Haider, secretary; Rod Hennessey, treasurer; Todd Britton, president; Ray Brittain, vice president; Lee Hanley, five pin chairperson; Trevor Peters, tenpin chairperson.
FEATURE more involved in our association, and seeing us as a leadership association. [Before] they didn't give us as much attention because they didn't think that we represented their customer base like we do now.” They also reevaluated their programs, many of which had been running for 30 years and were showing their age. One example was the National Classified Bowling Tournament, a grassroots event that was successful in some provinces but a poor performer in others. In those provinces there was resistance to changing the event. The attitude, says Britton, was, ‘"Well, it works in my back yard, so I'm not changing it.’" Now the board is working really hard to make changes, and Britton is proud of the fact that they are continually evolving all of their products. “When we started, our goals were just to make a few changes here and there, but we've really touched pretty much every product and every program that Bowl Canada does,” says Britton. “We've become much more professional. We've become much more conscious of the bottom line. We've also been unafraid to make major changes.” “We created a brand new event called the Bowl Canada Cup, which we looked at it as something we could run without deficits and something that made sense for the changing dynamics of a bowling centre,” says Britton. “We had to make it more relevant for this generation of operator, and also this generation of participant.” Under the new format, the organizers were able to break even after the first year, which bodes well for continued success. Britton feels that bowling will continue to compete well with other forms of family entertainment in Canada. “It really is one of those things that families can enjoy. We're obviously seeing increased numbers in casual bowling in Canada and decreases in leagues,” says Britton, “[but] I think that we still have hundreds of viable bowling centres. I think that is something we should be proud of.” He advises proprietors to remain engaged with their customers and their changing tastes and adapt to what they want rather than doing things the way they always have. “Every other industry is doing that. You have to take the pulse of your neighborhood and understand how you're going to fit its needs and not how they're going to fit yours. I think that that's really what is missing in a lot of bowling businesses,” he says.
ALLEN BOWL ALLEN, TX (24 LANES) We congratulate Jamie Brooks and Butch Warren on their purchase of this fine center and thank Christi Paschall and Danny Bradbury for trusting Ken Mischel to handle the sale. We wish them all the best of luck in the future.
Britton’s latest goals for Bowl Canada include recruiting new people for the board, growing youth participation and getting more Canadian proprietors to join the association. That means “giving
Todd Britton presents his ideas at a conference.
them a good reason to participate with us. We have leadership, we have drive, and we have things to offer bowling centres. Just continually beating the drum and hopefully if we get enough base hits we're going to score some runs.” While Canadians are big baseball fans, hockey is by far the most popular sport in Canada. For Todd Britton to choose a baseball analogy over a hockey one is another strong indicator that he and Bowl Canada are set on shaking up the status quo to create a stronger and more vibrant bowling industry. To which the McKenzie brothers would surely raise a beer and say, “Way to go, eh?” ❖
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Robert Sax is a writer and PR consultant in Los Angeles. He grew up in Toronto, Canada, the home of five-pin bowling.
By Sean Krainert
COVER STORY outh bowling is a perfect example of a proverb, “It takes a village.” Enthusiasts across the sport agree that it takes the consistent focus of diverse personalities, programs, proprietors and organizations to guide a child through a sport that can, in turn, offer a lifetime of enjoyment. Similar to the combined efforts needed from an entire community to give a child the skills to become a healthy adult, the sport of bowling is calling on the heart of the bowling nation to strengthen the sport itself, starting with youth bowlers. The sport of bowling continues to grow by leaps and bounds, but it has become evident that for bowling to not only survive, but thrive, it must be nurtured from every child’s first interaction with the sport and continue all the way through to the level at which they aspire to play. Through organized leagues, competitive arenas and progressive skills training, youth bowlers can become some of the greatest athletes in the world. Most bowlers’ first touchpoint with bowling is through recreation. Without further incentive, many kids come and go from bowling on this level. But organizations, schools, individuals and proprietors are working together to create a network of proper intervention with every interaction within the sport. The end goal is to create an organized system for kids to maneuver through, from that initial experience with bowling to their desired level of the sport.
setting goals that exceed expectations, with the ability to follow through on them. But the NorCal model didn’t develop overnight. For over 50 years they have been breaking boundaries, setting standards, and maintaining the energy as a reputable inspiration for other state associations across the country. "It is a daunting task to start it. And people look at it and say ‘how are we going to do this?’ With 50 years, we have the traditions, we have the tournaments, and so it is just something that we do and is in place. But to start it from scratch is a lot of work," says Mike Hillman, current co-owner of Cloverleaf Family Bowl in Fremont, CA, and previous NorCal youth committee member. One aspect of their program that rises to the top is their commitment to youth bowling off the lanes. NorCal is dedicated to the continuation of education as part of their motivation to foster a lifelong
In order for this cultivation to occur, every facet of the sport must be involved to bring a myriad of unique strengths to the table to form a seamless effort that can fuel the sport from the ground up. Three powerhouses that are taking a lead in the movement agree and are working in sync to create a well-oiled structure for young bowlers. Kids Bowl Free, USA Bowling, and the NorCal YAB are three dedicated and well-known forces with the common belief that youth bowling is the biggest opportunity for the growth of the sport.
NorCal executive director Sandi Thompson clowns around with two YBA bowlers.
With many branded youth programs designed to engage kids in the sport of bowling and increase participation, state associations are driving the power behind local youth bowling. One of the strongest leaders in youth development is the Youth Bowling Association of Northern California. Youth state associations play an integral role in cultivating youth bowling across the nation and NorCal sets the pace by continually
relationship with bowling. NorCal is known for many things: seminars; support of the parents of the youth; the proprietors in their region; and aiding any other state associations across the nation that need a helping hand in building similar programs. “We make center visits when requested at any time. They call; we go,” said NorCal president Sandi Thompson. The NorCal program has also taken the necessary steps to maintain the mission of putting bowlers first. Unlike some other youth associations across the country, NorCal has maintained the rule that all bowlers under the age of 21 are eligible. Their reason behind this has always been to make sure that when youth bowlers transition out of high school, whether they go straight IBI
COVER STORY to college or not, they have the opportunity to continue competing for scholarships through the age of 21. This extended period encourages youth bowlers to continue their relationship with the sport of bowling in an environment that also promotes their continuing education. Outside of their extensive scholarship program and tournament structure, their unparalleled all-star program has put them on the map. This year marks the 50th anniversary of their remarkable all-star program that honors 100 youth bowlers each year. While NorCal is handicapdriven, in order to cater to all ages and abilities, the all-star program is strictly an individual scratch program. The program is run on a points system that awards bowlers with points for league participation, average increases, high games and other measurable achievements, with each category separated by age. “It is the elite of the elite. You cannot buy your way in. You can only earn it,” says Thompson. With traditions in place, and dedicated parents, proprietors, youth bowlers and program directors, NorCal is commited to engaging youth with the sport of bowling from entry level participants to nation-wide competitive players. Their open-door policy to other state associations lends knowledge as well as encouragement to other associations to focus on putting kids first. "If the kids can get confidence, and they start bowling and get hooked on it, they will go out and practice and learn and try to be the best they can be. And NorCal has proven that by the amazing talent that has come through the program over the decades,” says Hillman.
The Kids Bowl Free (KBF) program is now nine years old and has facilitated access to the sport of bowling for over 16 million kids. Bowling centers in every state in the U.S. and across Canada are participating in the program that offers two free games of bowling every day, all summer long, for each registered child. The program started with 90 participating centers; it has grown to over 1,260 bowling centers participating to date, with numbers continually increasing. KBF does much more than extend summer fun bowling to kids. The program facilitates every moving part that is essential in getting kids and their families into bowling centers and keeping them engaged. KBF’s marketing efforts have helped centers build year-round business from their KBF database. The reach of the PR team has 30
spread the word about bowling across hundreds of media outlets. Bruce Davis, president of Kids Bowl Free, highlighted that while KBF is dedicated to bringing bowling to the lives of youth, it has also been developed to help operators build business. “The basics of the program from a business standpoint provides centers with three things up front. It generates traffic in the centers during the summer when proprietors need it; it promotes secondary spending within Bruce Davis, co-founder of Kids the centers; and it gives proprietors Bowl free. access to the data of the families participating in the program, enabling them to reach out and offer other customized promotions throughout the year,” says Davis. KBF conducts surveys of the families involved in the program, which is a key driver in the creation of new leagues for both kids and adults. The program is also grounded in its deep relationships with the schools. To ignite more involvement from the schools in the communities of the registered centers, KBF gives out over $50,000 a year, $350,000 to date, in grants to schools that are nominated by a participating center, developing relationships with schools that can help open the door for promotion of a variety of bowling offers.
The USBC and the USA Bowling program bring their shared attention on youth bowling to the table in a unique way. Their dedicated endeavors revolve around the goal to treat bowling as a sport by adding an aspirational value to it. Similar to other organized youth 2016 USA Bowling Champions - Indiana U12 All Stars.
COVER STORY sports, their design is set up to spark an interest in kids around the age of eight or nine and foster interest to inspire kids to continue with the sport through their entire lives. “The ultimate goal is to create a more mainstream model for bowling. We believe we can grow the sport by teaching the game,” said Chad Murphy, executive director of the USBC. USA Bowling was created with three components to support their mission: skill instruction, league activation, and tournament play. The coaching piece is a grassroots Chad Murphy, executive activation that takes place across the nation. director of the USBC. It starts when centers request a seminar from USA Bowling, who in turn sends an instructor to teach the basic skills of the sport to volunteers, who then pass the knowledge along to the youth. In order to instill the confidence in these new coaches who may not possess advanced bowling skills, the techniques taught begin at the basics, from one-step approaches on up, in order to best prepare them to pass on the skills to the youth. If the coaches are interested in further USBC certification, that information is then provided for them. “It is a
can provide an affinity that lasts a lifetime. “One of the great things about bowling is it is a lifetime sport. So if we teach it in a fun and exciting manner, then kids will play it for a lifetime,” says Murphy.
‘teach the teacher’ program. We are taking parents, or someone who would get engaged in a youth program, and we are teaching them so that they can pass on the skills to the youth,” says Murphy. Once the volunteers are trained, the process of creating leagues begins. Similar to how little league baseball works, each team has a coach and they practice separately. They then compete against each other, and ultimately, in a league championship that could qualify them to move onto tournament play, the third component. USA Bowling provides 16 regional events across the nation whose winners go on to compete in the USA Bowling National Championships. USBC knows that the biggest opportunity for growth within the sport of bowling is youth. Every parent is looking for an activity that builds character. By providing the structure of team building, skill instruction, competition and fun, USA Bowling is confident that the sport of bowling
The common thread between these three distinct forces is their unwavering dedication to fostering youth and their connection to the sport of bowling. It is clear to see that every interaction a youth has with the sport of bowling is important and plays a vital role in a potentially lifelong relationship with the sport. While these are only three examples of powerhouses in youth bowling, we can all agree on one thing, youth bowling is the future of bowling. And in order to engage our youth, we need the support of centers and proprietors across the nation. To weave this seamless structure through the sport of bowling, it takes a village of families, schools, programs, organizations and proprietors. ❖
Sean Krainert is a freelance copywriter living in the San Francisco Bay Area specializing in real estate, hospitality and mental health writing. He is also an alumni of the Wichita State Shocker bowling program.
According to George
Industries Continue to Converge DEFINITION OF CONVERGENCE:
THE MERGING OF DISTINCT TECHNOLOGIES, INDUSTRIES, OR DEVICES INTO A UNIFIED WHOLE.
onvergence as defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary is the reason Beyond Bowling exists. This edition kicks off our fifth year as a quarterly feature of IBI, focusing on the Bowling Entertainment Center (BEC), mirroring the growth of this phenomenon. I was recently comparing notes on arcade performance in BECs with the folks at Shaffer Entertainment, a prominent arcade operator (and, full disclosure, affiliated with our client Shaffer Distributing Company). We were putting our heads together to figure out why some BECs with similar bowling numbers had vastly different arcade performance. We visited several and analyzed others through their sales data and game rankings. An easy answer was found with the outliers that had either strong league business, where leagues remained 70% or more of bowling revenue, and the opposite situation where casual bowling dominated. Arcades don’t fare so well in strong league centers and thrive where casual play dominates. But for the large majority in the middle, the answers weren’t found in the reports. Game mixes were fairly similar. They all had debit card systems. Pricing at the POS and game levels were consistent. So why the disparity? We found the answers when we analyzed how the BECs were managed. Specifically, it was whether center ownership truly embraced the new combination of entertainment and bowling and operated it as an entertainment center with bowling. Where that happened, as opposed to treating the arcade as that other thing in our traditional bowling center, arcades
performed much better, to the tune of 30% to 100% better. That’s the power of convergence! You’ll read some examples of how that can work in this edition. Fred Kaplowitz spent some time with proprietor Jon Perper for his insights into how Jon transformed his traditional center into a BEC at The Big Event, formerly Playdrome Bowling, in Cherry Hill, NJ. Mike Abecassis of Game Time, a Florida game operator, shares his thoughts on managing the game room and focuses on the power of using debit card systems for data mining to enhance arcade performance. In my “Interesting Interview,” I talked with Theo Sanders, CEO of Helix Leisure, for his perspective on the games industry, in general, and the BEC’s place in the greater world of entertainment. So our features really illustrate the convergence theme — from BEC to management technology, and on to our place as an entertainment venue with features connecting centers and their players to social media. Makes me feel good to be part of an industry (industries!) that are relevant and well positioned for success. I hope that goes for you too!
George McAuliffe Principal, Pinnacle Entertainment Group
BUSINESS OPERATIONS Mike Abecassis presenting his Sixth Sense session at IAAPA in 2016.
Better Than A Hunch Using your Sixth Sense for your arcade area.
By Dan McGrath
ike Abecassis knows arcade games. He doesn’t just know games as they’re played and scored. He knows arcade games in an anthropomorphic way. "Your games are like employees," Abecassis says to a nearly full room of about 200 industry people at his 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo learning session, ‘The Sixth Sense - Develop Your Game Room Antenna.’ The audience for his session comprises bowling center and FEC owners, operators and managers, mostly from the U.S. “Games are your cheapest employees, so give them the attention they deserve. Just like employees, your games have needs: fair and ongoing evaluations; pay in the forms of parts and labor; regular attention and care; and from time to time, they need to be replaced.” He adds, “Just because they show up for work doesn’t mean they
Mike Abecassis 38
belong there. You need to let them go when their performance no longer justifies their cost.” Abecassis draws from 26 years of experience in the business when he shares his ideas and recommendations to industry audiences, such as the one gathered in Orlando. He is president and CEO of General Vending, a provider of amusement vending equipment, services and support in Florida. He’s also CEO of GameTime, a seven-venue chain of FECs located throughout South Florida. Prior to his current endeavors, he built and later sold several amusement and entertainment companies. The traditional definition of the sixth sense is extrasensory perception, or ESP, which is the reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses (touch, taste, etc.), but instead sensed with the mind. For his presentation and approach, Abecassis defines the sixth sense as “results derived by applying data from outside the normal fields of data.” He encourages arcade operators to dig deeper – beyond the standard revenue reports – to learn how they can maximize revenue from the resources applied to an arcade area. Critical to implementing many of Abecassis’ practices is data
BUSINESS OPERATIONS collection, and there’s no better way to collect arcade data today than with a stateof-the-art payment system, such as a debit card system. Abecassis makes it clear in his presentation that he doesn’t endorse one system provider over another. “There are a number of good systems out there,” he told his audience. Jason Mitchell, North American sales manager at Intercard Inc., a provider of debit payment systems, applauds the work Jason Mitchell that Abecassis is doing to help educate the industry. “It’s altruism. Mike earnestly wants the industry as a whole to improve. We at Intercard share that philosophy, and I can’t agree more with the specific lessons he’s teaching.” Mitchell has 31 years of direct, operational experience in the amusement industry with companies such as Putt-Putt Golf & Games, Fun Fest, and Main Event Entertainment. He’s been with Intercard since 2011. “If you have a debit payment system and you’re not data mining, you’re throwing money away,” said Mitchell. “Sure, data mining your customer information – frequency of visits, favorite games, spending habits, reactions to LTOs – is part of it. But Mike is stressing the importance of data mining your arcade games, too. A good debit payment system provides all you need to manage your business and maximize your revenue potential.” In recent years, bowling proprietors are realizing that, for example, having 40-plus lanes and 1,500 league bowlers is not enough. The industry is changing. Much higher revenues and ROI are being achieved when traditional bowling centers decide to be more competitive in the marketplace. Remodeling a traditional house and adding arcades, laser tag, new menus, and more attractions is a clear and proven method for staying relevant in today’s market. In many cases, lanes are being removed to accommodate these changes. Many centers have lost up to 80% of their league bowler base, yet still show significant revenue increases year after year because they’re making the necessary investments to change and diversify their business. As stated in a 2016 report by Sandy Hansell & Assoc., “Sixty percent of bowling centers recently surveyed by the Bowling Proprietors Association of America reported that they had completed major capital improvement projects within the last three years.” Data mining alone is not a panacea. Operators must to do it correctly. The Sixth Sense teaches operators the necessity of data mining and provides a clear roadmap for increasing revenues and efficiencies in their arcade business. Depending on the size of an operation, it can be worth the cost of having a full-time employee dedicated only to data collection and analysis. Over time that person will pay for themselves from the increased revenue and efficiency opportunities they discover, as long as the operator implements and experiments with the findings. Taking Abecassis’ anthropomorphic approach a step further, Mitchell says, 40
“Your arcade games need a ‘physician’ – a repair and maintenance technician. Think of the data expert as the games’ ‘psychologist.’” Another thing that Abecassis stresses is the importance of networking within the industry. At his IAAPA learning session, Abecassis was asked by an audience member how he learns if a new game introduced by a manufacturer will produce well. His answer: ask your industry contacts – distributors, debit system providers, third-party repair techs, etc. Mitchell amplifies on that approach for collecting data. “A lot of operators are not comfortable working with all of the available data that a system like ours produces. My first reaction is to tell them to try to learn it.”
Slide from the Sixth Sense presentation. This illustrates how an operator can calculate and compare the performance of their games to the games’ average performances at other comparable (very important!) stores, as provided by your industry contacts.
Beyond that, most good debit payment system providers offer resources for system education. Operators should talk to their contacts. Debit system providers, redemption companies and games distributors all have a stake in the industry’s success, and they understand the data of their respective fields. To view Mike Abecassis’ slide presentation from his 2016 IAAPA learning session, “Arcade-201: The Sixth Sense”, go to www.iaapa.org/iaapa-attractionsexpo-2016-educational-conference-programpresentations. ❖
Dan McGrath is a marketing and communications professional. His high score in bowling is 219, achieved at Casino Lanes in Quincy, Ill. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Newly created Memory Lanes.
Should We or Shouldn’t We? Jon Perper offers 10 steps to consider when transitioning from a bowling center to an entertainment center. By Fred Kaplowitz
s a second generation bowling proprietor and son of a hotel impresario, Jon Perper knows a thing or two about the hospitality business. “One of my first jobs was in my dad’s hotel in Philly as a bellhop. I learned how to get tips at an early age and how to anticipate what customer’s wanted.” The lesson continued as he took over his dad’s bowling center and then, with his partner, grew it into a 13-center chain in South Jersey. “During the 80s, we were really hopping,” said Perper. “I think we might have been the first chain to add a full-service restaurant to three of our centers, based on an Applebee’s model. When we did it, many other chain operators thought we had lost our minds. After 15 years, they were pretty much doing the same thing.” By the early 90s, a recession hit and Perper and his partner began selling off centers. In the end, Perper was left with two centers. Not one to dwell in the past, Jon added management contracts to his to do list and pretty soon he found himself involved with six centers. He also started an LED lighting manufacturing and distributing company, Zled-Lighting, which now does business all over the U.S.A. About five years ago, he sold one of his South Jersey centers because the landlord doubled the rent. Even though the center was doing well, Perper made a decision to concentrate on his main asset, Playdrome Bowl in Cherry Hill, NJ, a 36-lane gem in a highly desirable demographic market. Always ahead of the curve in modernization, marketing and 42
customer service, Perper saw the handwriting on the wall; the league bowler base was starting to atrophy. “At one time, we had over 3,000 league bowlers, and, as I watched that number decline, I knew I had to change the business model. So I began my due diligence. I visited almost a hundred bowling centers that had converted to FECs. I spoke Jon Perper of Big Event with many of the owners, visited manufacturers, attended seminars, and crunched numbers.” Finally, he made his decision. Playdrome Bowling was going to become an entertainment center. To make this change, Perper outlined the 10 key steps vital to any proprietor thinking about becoming an entertainment center: 1 Do your homework Ring every last detail out of the demographics analysis that you can. Understand the market not just from the standpoint of population, median household income and number of kids in the market, but delve into spending habits, indexes of entertainment spending, frequency of take-out meals, eating
BUSINESS out and stay-at-home meals as well as other forms of discretionary spending. Make sure you can offer a better entertainment option than movies or eating out. Fortunately, Playdrome had great numbers. The demographics, the population, the household size, median income and competition were all very favorable to this concept. 2 Decide what is missing in the market What problems does your target market need to solve? In Playdromeâ€™s case, there were three problems to be solved. The first, what entertainment currently existed for parents with children ages 5 to 13? Second, what options were there for company events among the thousands of companies within his market? And third, how could Playdrome
continue to grow open play business including birthday parties, weekend bowling and midweek bowling? Intuitively you have to understand and answer the question, why would someone choose to come here instead of going somewhere else, given the multitude of choices in our market? 3
Understand that a major part of your business will be food and beverage
It is the foundation of the entertainment experience. If your experience only includes running a snack bar, you must get an expert in the food and beverage field, preferably someone who has managed a restaurant or catering facility. We estimated that food and beverage would be about 30% to 40% of our new model, and because of our experience in the restaurant business years before, we were able to draw upon many resources and develop not just a new menu but also a menu for birthday parties and corporate events. We hired the best people we could find to develop this important component and focused on every detail, from the color and logo on the napkins to the menu design and comfort of any new seating. We also tested food products with his customers. Together with my food and beverage manager, we tweaked everything until we got it right. This element of the process is extremely important because if your food, presentation and staff delivery are off, youâ€™re dead and you might not even know it. 4 Build your brand If youâ€™re going to be more than a bowling alley or center, then change the name and de-emphasize or take bowling out of the name completely. In the case of Playdrome, the name changed to The Big Event. We wanted it to sound big. We wanted people to know it was an event space that would appeal to families, teens, Millennials, Boomers, Gen-Xers, companies and nonprofit organizations. We wanted it to 44
BUSINESS be crystal clear. I guess the two words ‘big’ and ‘event’ said it all, so the two words just came together naturally. 5 Adding Attractions In terms of what to add or subtract from your box, there is no perfect answer. We worked with Peter Starker, a noted consultant in the FEC field, to help with this decision. You just don’t put in what’s cool or what you like. Rather, you make the decision on what your market represents and who you want to target. Peter was very helpful in keeping us focused. In the end, The Big Event still Tons of tickets to be had in newly renovated had 36 lanes and eight were converted Game Mania arcade. to a VIP suite called Memory Lanes with new soft seating and a temporary smoked glass wall that could be put up for privacy. We also added a redemption center, Game Mania Arcade, which includes arcade games, a rock wall, sticky wall, laser maze, billiards, Ping Pong and the Big Event Café. Equally important is for you to be flexible. Don’t be afraid to modify your vision if you really believe that some other attraction will be better.
the experience they have had in the hospitality or customer service industry. Make sure that everyone buys into the culture: We are in the entertainment business, not the bowling business. Another key factor in building the team is to start well before you rebrand. I was lucky [that] I had a key support team that had been tops in their field for many years. Combining them with a new director of operations with a fresh approach was the best way to prepare for the big changes. 8 Dedicated event staff Perhaps you now have an outside sales person. Perhaps you don’t. In any case, you are going to need an event staff to include sales people, servers, telemarketers and reservations. That’s not to say that you need an army, but you need an experienced event person, someone who can coordinate the needs of large groups and organizations seamlessly with your operations. This event staff is your front line to profitability, and if you don’t have the expertise to hire and train this kind of staff, hire someone to assist you. I was lucky. I had a long time event person who was the best around so I did not have to start from scratch.
6 Maintain your leagues
9 Keeping staff in the loop
It is important that your league bowlers understand what you are doing; that you are not ignoring them or that you are going to throw them out. If you communicate what you are doing from the get-go, they will be more understanding and not feel like you are neglecting them. This is a crucial step, as rumors are quick to start and cause bowlers to quit or seek out competitors’ leagues. Stay on top of this and nip any rumors in the bud. Leagues are still the base of your business.
During the construction process, center personnel may feel like they have one foot in bowling and one foot in the new concept. It is important to keep them updated every step of the way so they can answer customers’ questions and give appropriate answers. While this can be a trying experience, it is more important than ever that everyone in the building knows what is happening and understands why it is happening.
7 Begin your hiring and training early Some of the people that you have on staff now may be perfectly suitable for a bowling alley but unacceptable for the level of service you must achieve. Screen new recruits based on their aptitude for service and
THE BIG EVENT & INDUSTRY MANUFACTURES Ó Ó Ó Ó
Masking by Allied Bowling Furniture by QubicaAMF Lighting system by Zled-Lighting Arcade swipe card company, Intercard
Top 5 best preforming redemption games 1. Ticket World Crane - by St. Louis Gaming Company 2. Big Bass Wheel - by Bay Tek Games 3. Eclaw - by Elaut 4. Ticket Monster - by Bay Tek Games 5. Fishbowl Frenzy - by Team Play 46
10 Have a sense of humor This is a big project, and it will be trying. Things won’t always go as planned. Construction problems, delivery problems, and a million other things can go wrong. You, as the leader, must show that it can be dealt with and that you have everything under control. If you show panic, the staff will begin to distrust the whole process and begin, either consciously or unconsciously, to bad mouth the whole project, and that is never what you want. ❖ 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.
Powering Out-Of-Home Entertainment A few minutes with Theo Sanders, CEO of Helix Leisure.
By George McAuliffe 1. Tell us about your company, what is Helix Leisure? Helix Leisure supplies the Out-of-Home Entertainment business (OOHE) with products and services which enable operators to deliver great entertainment experiences to their guests. Under the Helix umbrella, our brands include EMBED debit card systems, LAI Games, The Locker Network, and a partnership with ticketing company VGS. While these brands have varied offerings, they are united by our group’s focus on a long-term partnership approach to the OOHE industry, product innovation, and great service.
2. How did you get into the business? I’ve been involved in the broader entertainment business for fifteen years, from video games, to gaming hardware, to music and events. Their common denominator with OOHE is that the end product is families and friends having a good time. At the same time, the truly unique aspects of OOHE fascinated me as well. I personally got involved with OOHE in 2013 when I joined LAI games here in Singapore.
3. You found parallels to other industries compelling, would you expand on that? Arcade game manufacturers are unique in the entertainment world in that as content creators they do very little marketing to generate demand. The chain is: game manufacturer to distributor to operator to player. We leave it entirely up to operators to create that demand. 48
I’m not sure that idiosyncrasy works in our favor. When Beyoncé builds hype for her new album, or when Disney markets a new Star Wars film, they are in a demand-generation partnership with the distribution channels like cinemas. Mobile technology may hold some answers. With the physical nature of our industry, the role mobile can play is an interesting open question. We’ve been experimenting with both of these questions. For our LAI Theo Sanders Games’ Snapshot 2 photo booth, we are curating an end-user community that is building demand for more photos through a mobile app. The results are encouraging with over 100,000 downloads of the app in the past 18 months.
4. What keeps you in this business? I’d guess for the same reasons as for you and a lot of our colleagues. OOHE is about as stable as a business gets. People went to the amphitheater in ancient Greece for the same reason people go bowling today: to get out of the house and have fun with family and friends. The business model for that amphitheater was the same as a visit to Disneyland today: a ticket to enter the show and the concessions and novelty vendors inside. Fortunately we’re not sacrificing people to the lions today, entertainment morés have shifted, but it is a fairly stable model. It’s extremely rewarding for me
INTERESTING INTERVIEW social experiences — the fun of being silly in a booth together — with virtual social experiences, like sharing photos on Instagram.
7. What is your perspective on the BEC in the U.S.? We see a similar trend in BECs as with other sectors in the FEC business. Namely a move away from pure play to mixed entertainment attractions. We see this across the board and around the world. Operators are reacting with much more appealing food and beverage options, microbreweries being one example. Many BEC operators have also been adding or expanding their game rooms to broaden the entertainment mix. It’s exciting, and forces us to rethink the visit dynamics. to be involved with helping to bring people together, to help fulfill that desire to go out and socialize. I love being a part of that. 5. Helix Leisure and its predecessors have been in the business since 2001. (Note: The Steinberg family, Helix Leisure’s principal owners, have been involved in the business since 1957 in game operations, distribution, and manufacturing.) To what do you attribute the longevity and success of your company? I think primarily from not seeing ourselves as a sales company but rather as a partner in our customer’s business. That attitude reflects in how we organize ourselves and deliver value. For example, we have facilities in six countries, allowing us to be close to our customers, to spend time with them, and to really understand their needs. An example on the product side is our Embed insight training platform, which we launched at IAAPA this year. It’s designed to help our customers get the most value from their debit card systems and is reflective of our approach. We’ve invested in creating over 575 videos with tips and tricks, not as an upsell, but as a support feature to our product.
6. How does Helix LAI deliver on that success platform? It’s a little trickier for LAI as there is a distribution layer, so there are two layers between us and the ultimate player/consumer. We are continually strategizing as to how we can add long-term, post-sale value to the operators of our games. The Snapshot 2 app is our first initiative in this direction, bridging OOHE together with mobile, and bridging physical 50
8. What do you see as the next phase for debit card systems? The expectations of the guest are changing very quickly, how they interact with devices and how they expect to pay for things. I believe that the areas of payment, personalized experiences and feedback loops will see substantial changes in the coming five years.
9. Any other wisdom you care to share for our readers? I don’t want to be presumptuous as I’m relatively new to the industry, but I’d encourage us all to look at other industries for inspiration and ideas to challenge our established thinking. Areas like restaurants, hospitality and other entertainment sectors hold lessons and methods that we can adapt to our businesses. Thanks, Theo. We wish you the best for continued success. ❖
George McAuliffe has operated family entertainment centers from 2,000 to 150,000 square feet as a corporate executive and entrepreneur. As a consultant he has helped hundreds of clients add or improve redemption game rooms and FEC attractions. He is currently the principal of Pinnacle Entertainment Group whose clients include Embed, Redemption Plus and Shaffer Distributing Company. He writes for RePlay and International Bowling Industry magazines and speaks at FEC industry conferences.
The Three Amigos, left to right, Rick Iceberg, George Smith, and Ben Jones.
Be In The Room Where It Happens A preview of the 2017 F2FEC Conference. By Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
f you want to know where the FEC industry is headed, and who will take it there, one event will tell you. The third annual F2FEC (an educational conference for family entertainment center operators) is February 21-24, 2017 at Château Élan Winery & Resort in Braselton, Georgia. The F2FEC conference hosts, Ben Jones, a senior lender specializing in entertainment centers at Live Oak Bank; Rick Iceberg, president of CJ Barrymore’s; and George Smith, president of the Family
Entertainment Group, are industry veterans who feel it’s vital to share information to improve business. “This conference is for decision makers,” shares Smith. “The FEC business is unique. We want to create a forum where experienced owners and operators can share best practices and have face to face interaction to keep up with the challenges of the industry.” This year’s theme is ‘Differentiate.’ As Ben Jones, one of the Three Amigos who produces the event, explains, “The themes
Chateau Élan Winery and Resort is the venue for the 2017 F2FEC.
of each conference build on each other. The first theme was ‘Change or Die’ in which attendees discussed the importance of staying relevant and why you have to invest to live–you must spend money to make more money. Last year’s theme
Scott Frager Publisher of IBI, Ben Jones F2FEC co-founder and David Garber Associate Publisher of IBI take moment for a photo opt at Pinz Studio City, CA.
was ‘10X Better’ where attendees discovered the importance of focusing on fewer things and making micro investments with time and money to become better. Now it’s time to discover what makes your business special and unique. What’s the one thing you are known for? What is your reputation built on? What makes you different? You have to find your niche and exploit what you are good at. You must differentiate yourself in the market.” The F2FEC provides plenty of opportunity for networking with industry leaders. The diverse audience of nearly 200 attendees from the U.S. and Canada includes facility owners 54
and decision makers as well as manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. Entertainment sectors include traditional FECs, roller skating centers, trampoline parks, bowling centers, cinemas and multiplexes, themed eateries and restaurants, street operators, golf courses, casinos, arcades, hybrid parks, mobile attractions, and barcades. At the 2016 event, Element5 provided live, on-site audience polling, directly engaging all attendees. Some of the results revealed that operators at F2FEC represented 699 facilities and are directly responsible for nearly 22,000 jobs and more than $1 billion in annual revenues. O. Lee Mincey, a human resources specialist, presented educational psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s theory on stages of group development, and encouraged the operators to develop their teams by: articulating clear values, goals and objectives; being present; acknowledging progress; and rewarding great performance. Rick Barsness, founder and CEO of Incredible Pizza shared that his revenues increased 27% at his Springfield, MO, location after he reinvested and remodeled the store based on information learned at the F2FEC Experience the previous year. The three-day conclave is packed with presentations by industry leaders on relevant topics with leading manufacturers, operators and innovators of the entertainment center industry. Join the best of the best. This conference always sells out. Don’t wait to reserve your space. Rick Iceberg 810-444-2222 | Ben Jones 248-371-0700 | George Smith 630-240-8261 | Amigos@f2conference.com | f2conference.com ❖
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson lives in Idaho. In addition to writing, she is a career coach and scenario role player for peace officer training. Pamela worked as a production manager on the Emmy Award-winning animated series The Simpsons, where she bowled regularly with members of the crew. She speaks on career issues at conferences all over the world. You can reach Pamela at PamRecruit@q.com.
Brunswick’s Center Stage modular furniture consists of a wide variety of components that can be arranged in infinite ways to meet your center’s needs. Any center, no matter the size, can take advantage of this flexibility. It uses a wide variety of fabrics and finishes for endless combinations. With Brunswick’s industry-leading, five-year, limited warranty, the robust construction gives maximum durability even in harsh bowling environments. Every component has been tested and passed BIFMA Plus standards at a certified independent laboratory. With Center Stage, you can give every customer the best seat in the house. www.brunswickbowling.com/products/furniture.
Steltronic has announced that its Focus scoring system is now interfaced with ORACLE, also known as MICROS®. With the popularity of the MICROS® terminals as a POS system for food and beverage, Steltronic has now interfaced with this system, allowing cashiers to process payments to open lanes, rent bowling shoes, pool tables, POS products, and everything within the Focus software. ‘We are YOUR bowing center management specialists.’ For more information: (800) 942-5939 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAI Games has reinvented arcade basketball with HYPERshoot, featuring an innovative, interactive light tunnel, unique hoop and realtime sports commentary. When in game mode, the light tunnel senses the ball to mirror its flight like a comet trail, accompanied by live sports commentary and an illuminated ring making every throw fun and rewarding. As each successive basket is scored, the hoop rim powers up, indicating a player is on a streak and will earn extra points per basket. Scoring hoops in quick succession allows skilled players to pull ahead of the pack. Up to eight units can be linked for a striking light display. Find out more and watch videos of the game in action at laigames.com/hypershoot.
NEW REDEMPTION GAMES
Bay Tek’s latest video redemption game, Pop the Lock, will attract players from across the game room with its brightly lighted cabinet that alternates colors. The game challenges players to time the stop button just right to hit the yellow dots. Great hand-eye coordination will aid players to skillfully hit all 50 dots to win the bonus. Pop the Lock is equipped with a ‘continue’ feature that allows players to coin back up and continue where they left off, enticing repeat play. In production now, Pop the Lock is ready for the spring buying season, along with Quik Drop, Tower of Tickets, and Grand Piano Keys. For more information, go to www.baytekgames.com.
LOANS TO ENHANCE A CENTER
As an owner of a bowling center, you have the special challenge of keeping a classic game fresh and fun. Sometimes that means buying new equipment or remodeling your space. Live Oak Bank’s team of entertainment center lending specialists is uniquely positioned to help you reach new growth. They offer bowling center loans up to $5 million for modernization, expansion, refinance and more. Live Oak has made the loan process transparent, and they will get the funds to you fast. Express loans up to $350,000 are also available for equipment, furniture upgrades, and other working capital needs. Contact liveoakbank.com/bowling-center-loans to learn how they can help you achieve your bowling center dreams.
HONING THE GUEST EXPERIENCE
Redemption Plus is partnering with BECs and FECs to create incredible guest experiences through innovative services and redemption solutions to maximize profitable revenue growth and brand value. This is done in three phases: analyze current and potential performance; develop the foundations for an optimized business model; and educate on efficient inventory maintenance and redemption and game room optimization. Redemption Plus believes that the industry stands for more than just playing games and selling toys. The potential is there to change lives. Connect with Redemption Plus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn or reach out to Tabatha Bender at email@example.com.
Embed’s EMONE is the industry leading, low cost debit card solution for bowling centers with 40 games or less. It’s a system that is self-contained and self-installed with a proven track record for increasing revenues, reliable top-ofthe-line hardware that reduces service calls, automated reports generated when needed, and Embed System Protection (ESP) included. For unattended facilities, EMONE offers great value card deals and suggestive upselling, with support for 3rd party self-service redemption, giving you the ability to offer ticket games. Guests play and tickets are awarded directly to their card, and they can check their balances at the kiosk and redeem their prizes at the self-service redemption station. For more information, visit embedcard.com.
BIRTHDAY PARTY PACKAGE
QubicaAMF’s Birthday Party QuickStart Program includes digital in-center and outside-center marketing material, along with a comprehensive digital manager’s guide full of tips, tools, and ideas. Birthday parties can be BIG money! Families are willing to pay top dollar for a personalized, positive birthday party experience, so make your center their first choice. Great birthday parties provide valuable word-of-mouth advertising and the perfect opportunity to attract new families and kids to your center. The first of its kind, this program has been proven to boost this business segment by 50% or more and attract new open play customers. Learn more at QubicaAMF.com.
Change or Die. 10X Better. Differentiate. These are all tag lines used within the industry to inspire BEC owners to evolve their businesses past the traditional bowling centers of yesteryear. Bob McCracken of Rule 3 bowling center in Pickerington, OH, has taken the next step. Rule 3 will be the first entertainment center in the U.S. to incorporate the game Omni Arena from UNIS and distributed by Shaffer Distributing. McCracken indicated that he feels the need to reinvent the facility and be on the ‘cutting edge’ of technology. Omni Arena offers a virtual reality motion platform where actions are controlled by first-person navigation like running or walking which creates a sense of immersion within the game. More to come. George Speakman (614) 421-6800; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ShafferDistributing.com.
WWW.TEXTBOWLING.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
CLASSIFIEDS MECHANIC WANTED San Diego, CA: A or B mechanic wanted for AMF 82-70s. Send resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MANAGEMENT OPENINGS Seven Ten, 40,000-square-foot entertainment complex in Hagerstown, MD, is seeking an OPERATIONS MANAGER. The facility houses 22 tenpin lanes, arcade, event room, restaurant, bar & lounge. Applicants must have a minimum three (3) years’ experience in restaurant management. Compensation includes: Salary + insurance + housing. Please email email@example.com
EQUIPMENT FOR SALE FOR SALE: 32 lanes Steltronic Super Elex, excellent condition, can separate; we install. 16-lane complete package (or 2 8s), equipment all refurbished and currently in use with Steltronic scoring, A2 pinsetters, HPL lanes-- pick up and move to your location. Gloss Boss Luster King. Brunswick swing/swivel. Wood bowling lanes, 2 ¼”. Four-foot Blacklight bulbs. Glow vending machine. Powerlifts. 30 AMF HPL arrow panels, new, and HPL lanes. 22 Brunswick Anvil, like new. Complete deck and gearbox assemblies. firstname.lastname@example.org. For REDLINE FOUL LIGHTS, call 1 (888) 569-7845 or visit Bowlingtrader.com, your FREE bowling buy and sell site. NEW & USED Pro Shop Equipment. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com. REPAIR & EXCHANGE. Call for details (248) 375-2751.
EQUIPMENT WANTED LANE MACHINES WANTED. We will purchase your KEGEL-built machine, any age or condition. Call (608) 764-1464.
EDUCATION & TRAINING PRO SHOP TRAINING. Classes always forming. Jayhawk Bowling Supply (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
CLASSIFIEDS SERVICES AVAILABLE Looking for an influx of new league bowlers for your center? You need THE BOWLING LEAGUE GUY! Bowlinleagueguy.com or call (757) 390-2129. Drill Bit Sharpening and Measuring Ball Repair. Jayhawk Bowling Supply. (800) 255-6436 or jayhawkbowling.com.
APPRAISALS APPRAISALS: LARRY DOBBS MAI, ASA. (214) 674-8187. Bowlingvaluations@yahoo.com.
CENTERS FOR SALE SW WISCONSIN: 10-lane center, includes bar & grill. New metal roof and paint. Wellestablished leagues. $250,000 OBO. (608) 341-9056. 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.
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
CLASSIFIEDS CENTERS FOR SALE SW WISCONSIN: 12-lane center with Brunswick pinsetters & AMF synthetic lanes; 13 solid leagues; newly remodeled fullservice restaurant and bar; newly remodeled banquet hall w/ full-service kitchen and bar; excellent community support, prime location! Call (563) 451-4759 NORTHERN LOWER MICHIGAN: Clean, modern, 14,000 s/f, 12-lane center with Brunswick Pro Anvil lanes & approaches; brand new Touch 3 auto scoring w/ 42” monitors. Great league base & lucrative annual tournaments. Includes: large, active poker room; lounge & snack bar; small pro shop, plus karaoke, games, pool & air hockey tables. Lots of parking! Call (989) 739-4515 for more information.
LOCKER KEYS FAST! All Keys done by code # Locks and Master Keys E-mail: email@example.com TOLL FREE
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
NORTHERN GULF COAST: 24-lane, split 16/8, FEC. Built in 2006. 2.5 acres and 28,000 s/f building. Brunswick GSX, well maintained. New Brunswick scoring system and Aloha cash register systems in 2014. Fully enclosed bar/restaurant, full kitchen, walk-in freezer/cooler and pizza oven. Kegel lane machine and new ball drilling equipment. Call Pete, (228) 348-6921 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS 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